Today was definitely not a good work day for me. Nothing bad happened, I was just ridiculously busy and did not get nearly as much work done as I intended. So, I am a little bit stressed out and could use a good laugh or five. Luckily, I have a classic W.C. Fields movie on tap for today to help me with that. Now this particular movie is my favorite one out of this DVD set that I own, not just because of W.C. Fields, but because of the supporting cast, who offer just as much comedy, if not more in some cases, as Fields himself. So let me present to you all today’s movie, International House.
The plot: Tommy Nash, a representative of the American Electric Company, is attempting to get from Shanghai, China to Wuhu, China in an attempt to bid on the rights to a new invention by Doctor Wong. When he learns that the bridge is washed out, preventing the trains from travelling, he decides to make the trip by car and ends up taking along the famous actress Peggy Hopkins Joyce. At the International House Hotel in Wuhu, several representatives from various companies are arriving in order to bid on the rights to Dr. Wong’s invention. When the hotel manager delivers a telegram from the American Electric Co. to Dr. Wong, Dr. Wong tells the manager that he will not see anyone until the representative from American Electric Co. arrives, then offers the manager a preview of his invention, the “radioscope”. As they briefly flash from one clip to the next, they come across a news story about Professor Henry Quail, who is travelling from Juarez, Mexico to Kansas City in his autogyro. Meanwhile, Tommy and Peggy arrive in Wuhu and while Peggy checks in to her room, Tommy sees his girlfriend Carol, who is excited to see him at first but then gets mad as she remembers that Tommy has left her at the alter twice due to getting sick. During their conversation, Carol gets jealous when she finds out that Tommy had traveled to Wuhu with a girl but after Peggy explains what happens, she forgives Tommy. Tommy declares that they should get married but after Carol says his cheek feels hot, the hotel doctor examines him and claims that he has measles and should be placed in bed. General Petronovich, a competing bidder and Peggy’s ex-husband, decides to go to the health inspector and claim that Tommy has a contagious disease and should be quarantined. That night, during a dinner theater show, Professor Quail winds up landing his autogyro on the rooftop garden. At the same time, the health inspector arrives and informs everyone that the hotel is under quarantine so Dr. Wong, mistakenly believing that Professor Quail is the American representative, offers to let him stay in his room. While trying to find Dr. Wong’s room, Professor Quail ends up in Peggy’s room by mistake and goes to sleep but when Peggy hears his snoring, she kicks him out of her room. Professor Quail finally finds Dr. Wong’s room but the next morning, when Dr. Wong asks for his bid on his invention, Professor Quail informs him that he is not the American representative, so Dr. Wong opens up bidding to the other representatives. Tommy manages to get out of quarantine and goes to see Dr. Wong, who accepts his bid since he really wanted to sell his invention to the Americans. Meanwhile, the health inspector lifts the quarantine on the hotel and allows the hotel doors to open, just as General Petronovich, who had been locked out of the hotel due to the quarantine, has his men try and break down the door. General Petronovich goes after Professor Quail, thinking that he has both slept with his ex-wife and bought the rights to the radioscope, but Tommy, along with Carol and Peggy, manages to help the professor escape and the four fly off in Professor Quail’s autogyro.
This is an incredibly funny movie. All of the main characters were great, either as a funny man or a straight man. My personal favorites were W.C. Fields, Gracie Allen, George Burns, and Franklin Pangborn. The story itself was ok but the writing was truly fantastic. The writing, along with the timing of the various comics, really help make this movie an almost non-stop laugh. The scene with Gracie, George, and Frank in the doctor’s office really showcased this. I also liked the various clips and acts that were shown when Dr. Wong was using his invention. In a way, it was like a brief intermission between all of the humorous scenes. All in all, if you are ever in need of a good laugh, then you should definitely give this movie a try.
Rating: 5 out of 5