Happy Halloween everybody. I am going to be completely honest here and say that I am having a hard time focusing right now. Part of that is that I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. The other part is that I have a lot of things to do today and I am trying to figure out the best way to go about doing all of that. Luckily, today’s movie is a classic bit of W.C. Fields comedy so it isn’t a long movie to watch. Today’s movie is actually based off of a stage revue that Fields starred in,and the second movie version to be made, with Fields also starring in the first version. So here is hoping I can focus in on watching today’s movie, Poppy.
The plot: Professor Eustace P. McGargle and his adopted daughter Poppy are walking down a road when they stop to take a rest. As Poppy comments on their lack of money, a dog comes up to them and McGargle sets off to find the owner. Walking to a nearby bar, he places the bar and orders a drink, then uses ventriloquism to make it seem like the dog talks and when the barkeeper offers to buy it from him, McGargle quickly grabs the money and walks off. Meanwhile, two men are racing their one horse carts and cause Poppy to fall off the bridge she is waiting on. When one of the men stops and goes to help her, she gets angry at him and tells him to leave. Later, McGargle and Poppy hitch a ride into town with a carnival and when the carnival owner sees them, has McGargle thrown off the wagon. McGargle fakes an injury until the owner agrees to give him $10 and a spot where he can perform. For his act, McGargle first has Poppy sing a song, and he then starts peddling snake oil and playing the shell game among the patrons. In the back, Poppy works on filling bottles when she is approached by the man from the bridge, who introduces himself as Billy Farnsworth, the mayor’s son, and he invites her to walk around the carnival with him, which Poppy accepts. When the mayor shows up and starts walking the grounds, McGargle quickly hides the shell game and pretends to be lecturing against gambling. The mayor speaks with McGargle and introduces Countess Maggie Tubbs DePuizzi, who is fascinated with McGargle, and after they leave, McGargle learns some more about the Countess. As McGargle tries to get close to the Countess, Poppy enjoys spending time with Billy but when his parents show up and tell him to leave, they comment on his spending time with a carnival worker. As Poppy tries to figure out what to do for the night, a kind old woman named Sarah Tucker, takes Poppy to her house to eat, saying that her eyes reminded her of something. Later, McGargle is talking with a lawyer named Edward Whiffen, who explains that the Countess’s money comes from the Putnam estate and they decide to make it look like he had married Katherine Putnam, making Poppy the heir. Whiffen brings the mayor, who questions McGargle about Katherine and when McGargle is able to answer the questions, with Whiffen’s help, the mayor declares Poppy the heir. The next day, Poppy is sitting with Billy when the Countess and mayor show up and take her to the Putnam estate, saying it is all hers. That night, a big party is set up on Poppy’s behalf but she is overwhelmed by everything and heads back down to the river. Billy goes looking for her but Poppy ends up pushing him away, which upsets both of them. At the party, Whiffen approaches the Countess and after talking about his undying love for her, offers to help her get the Putnam estate. After McGargle entertains the crowd for a bit, Poppy approaches him and asks to leave, wanting things to go back the way they were. As the mayor goes to introduce Poppy, Whiffen shows up with the sheriff to stop the announcement, showing that the marriage certificate McGargle had was forged. Poppy and Billy help McGargle get away and the sheriff goes to arrest Poppy but Sarah and Billy stop him. When the Countess and another girl make a snide comment about Poppy, Poppy chastises the crowd before Sarah and Billy are able to walk her out. The next day, Sarah is helping Poppy pack up the clothes from the night before when she sees a locket and when she asks Poppy about it, Poppy tells her that her mother gave it to her. Sarah tells Poppy not to leave the house and starts to head outside but runs into Billy and she quickly tells him to get his father. Meanwhile, McGargle returns and asks Poppy to come with him but she tells him she can’t because she gave Sarah her word. McGargle then tells her that he is not her real father but found her in a circus. When the mayor arrives with the posse, McGargle quickly escapes on the mayor’s horse with the posse following after him. Meanwhile, Sarah shows the mayor Poppy’s locket and a locket that she has, each of them containing a picture of a young Sarah and Katherine Putnam, and Sarah explains the story behind the lockets, proving that Poppy is the rightful heir. Meanwhile, Bill talks with Poppy and says he doesn’t care what anyone thinks as he loves her and wants to marry her, and Poppy agrees. As Sarah and the mayor give Poppy the good news, Whiffen and the Countess show up, having just gotten married but when they learn that Poppy really is the heir, the Countess faints. The sheriff shows up with a captured McGargle but the mayor orders him released. Poppy tells her father the good news, saying that they can settle down now, and McGargle offers her some advise, “Never give a sucker an even break”, and then heads out the door.
This is not one of my favorite W.C. Fields’ movies. Fields was really good but, due to illness and an injury, was not in many of the scenes and during the scenes he was not in, several of the other actors seemed pretty terrible. The story was pretty good, with a whole fiction becoming truth aspect making for a nice ending to the movie. The comedy bits with Fields were really good, focusing more on slapstick than word of mouth but they were definitely in shorter supply than some of his other movies. Any W.C. Fields movie is a good movie to watch, but this one will probably be towards the bottom of the list.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5