With W. C. Fields, Alison Skipworth, Baby Leroy, Julie Bishop, Philip Trent, Clarence Wilson, George Barbier, Barton Maclane
Directed by Francis Martin
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     Having had some comic success in teaming Fields with actress Alison Skipworth in a segment of IF I HAD A MILLION, Paramount once again paired them up in TILLIE AND GUS.  It was the first film for Paramount in which Fields took center stage for most of the film, rather than act as part of an ensemble team or all-star cast. 

     The film itself is no Fields classic, and those approaching TILLIE AND GUS expecting IT'S A GIFT or THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE are bound to be disappointed.  Paramount had yet to realize that Fields needed to be his own man and make his own films, rather than merely be a player in a story he did not have a hand in himself.  Still, TILLIE AND GUS is a film with undeniable charm, most prominently the chemistry between Fields and his co-lead Alison Skipworth.  Visually they were perfect together, and were perfectly suited to play a divorced couple brought together by familial financial troubles.  Fields peppers the film with a few classic lines, such as his answer to the question "Do you like children" ("I do if they're properly cooked.") but often the comedy seems written for anybody else but Fields.  It's one thing to have such an iconoclastic figure as Fields perform a standard routine in which one do-it-yourself radio lesson is interrupted by another without the comedian in question knowing.  It is quite another thing to have the great comedian utter a generic line like "Is there a doctor in the house?", straight into the camera, no less.  A good film, but not a great W. C. Fields film.

W. C. Fields     The Age of Comedy


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