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Man on the Flying Trapeze

USA 1935
produced by
William LeBaron for Paramount
directed by Clyde Bruckman, W.C. Fields (uncredited)
starring W.C. Fields, Mary Brian, Kathleen Howard, Grady Sutton, Vera Lewis, Lucien Littlefield, Oscar Apfel, Lew Kelly, Tammany Young, Walter Brennan, Edward Gargan, James Burke, Carlotta Monti, Eddy Chandler, Michael Visaroff, Tor Johnson, Harry Ekezian, David Clyde, Mickey McMasters, Lorin Raker, Helen Dickson, Arthur Aylesworth, James Flavin
story by W.C. Fields (as Charles Bogle), Sam Hardy, screenplay by Ray Harris, Sam Hardy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Hen-pecked husband Ambrose Wolfinger (W.C. Fields) is forced to go down into the basement by his wife (Kathleen Howard) one night to check for some funny noises - and he finds a couple of burglars (Tammany Young, Walter Brennan) and a policeman in his cellar, drinking his moonshine and singing. Naturally, Ambrose joins in until his wife forces him to bring the burglars to the police - but in the end he gets arrested himself for illegally distilling brandy.

His wife and her mother (Vera Lewis) are shocked and ashamed by this change of events and refuse to help him, but his daughter from his first marriage Hope (Mary Brian) bails Ambrose out.

Ambrose wants to go to a wrestling match that day, and thus he invents an elaborate lie to get the afternoon off, a lie that his mother-in-law has died - but then his ticket for the event was stolen from his good-for-nothing brother-in-law Claude (Grady Sutton), and he arrives too late on the scene to get another one - but he still gets a wrestler (Tor Johnson) thrown onto him ...

When the wife and mother-in-law learn that he has told everyone that the mother-in-law has died (which had been blown out of proportion by his employer) just to get drunk at the wrestling match (which he didn't, but Claude told it that way), Ambrose gets thrown out of his home, and he loses his job for lying to get the afternoon off - but when it's found out how indispensable he is for his company, he gets his job back at a much higher pay, and living without him opens his wife's yes to the fact that her mother and brother are nothing but parasites who have been living off him while never stopping to complain about him, which has put a major strain about their relationship ...


Apart from being very funny, this is an early example of situation comedy, and how it should be handled: There is no narrative setup in this film, and it doesn't need one, in stead it starts on a gag that is not only pretty hilarious, it also introduces the main characters in a very unintrusive way. Following this, extended gags and funny sequences are just lined up next to one another, scenes that at first sight have extremely little to do with one another, but taken as a whole, they tell the story nevertheless. And while the film's direction might best be described functional, it also doesn't gloss over the often enjoyably raw jokes and shows expert timing nevertheless.

And all of this makes this film above everything great fun.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD