Watching W.C. Fields is like eating Chinese food. Even when the food is just so-so, it's still pretty good. This movie was just so-so, but Fields' and Skipworth's performances made up for the shortcomings. Wells and Jones are a young married couple being bilked by attorney Wilson. Wells'
father died and left her an inheritance, but Wilson's legal shenanigans have dissipated the money until all they now own is a riverboat. Wilson also owns a riverboat and would like to get his hands on the couple's vessel so he can control a ferry concession. He tells them that he will erase all
their debts (they really have none) if they will sign over their boat. Wells and Jones would like to keep the boat because they have nothing else to their name. Fields and Skipworth are married but not living together. Ostensibly missionaries, they parted company long ago and have since found
other fish to fry. She has been running a bar and house of ill repute in the Far East while he's been cheating at cards in Alaska. She is in financial trouble, having lost her holdings in a crap game, and he is about to be ridden out of the Alaskan territory on a rail for having too many aces up
his sleeve. They are both notified about the will and make their respective ways to the small town, thinking they might be able to grab some of the inheritance. When they meet at a train station, their first response is to draw guns on each other. Old arguments are soon settled and the two decide
that they'd better keep up their missionary pretense. After a card game on the train with some yokels, they get to town and soon size up Wilson's chicanery. Fields and Skipworth feel for the young couple and arrange a winner-take-all race between the old scow and Wilson's newer and faster
riverboat. Fields pulls some tricks of his own by tying Wilson's boat to the dock. The race begins and the old boat gets a lead, then Wilson's boat pulls away part of the dock and steams after it. Several tricks from both sides occur, including fireworks and various bits of sabotage. The boat with
Fields as captain wins, and this captures a valuable ferry franchise which Wilson wanted. Wilson eventually confesses that he used duplicity to ravage the inheritance and he will return the money. (This is done only after Fields has dunked the man in the water and has him hooked by the neck.)
Wells and Jones are thrilled at regaining some of their lost money and cede part of their booty to Fields and Skipworth. The final scene has Fields and Skipworth happily strolling to the home of the young couple as they sing the traditional "Bringing in the Sheaves."
Although supposedly set partly in Singapore and Alaska, the film was an obvious studio job. The location work was done at Malibu Lake. The director, Martin, was helming his first and only feature film. Baby LeRoy appears in his premiere picture with Fields, and they actually got along fairly well,
a situation which would alter as they worked together. Fields was always a tight man with a buck and deliberately created havoc on a few nights so the shooting went past midnight. Many of the cast and crew couldn't figure out why Fields seemed to be lousing up his lines. They didn't know that his
contract called for an additional payment of $800 every time the shooting went past midnight. Fields was 54 when he made this and Skipworth was 70, although Fields had led such a dissolute life that the difference in their ages hardly showed. She and Fields had already appeared together in a
segment of the episodic IF I HAD A MILLION and would reunite on SIX OF A KIND the following year.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Watching W.C. Fields is like eating Chinese food. Even when the food is just so-so, it's still pretty good. This movie was just so-so, but Fields' and Skipworth's performances made up for the shortcomings. Wells and Jones are a young married couple being b… (more)