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  Million Dollar Legs Olympian Glory
Year: 1932
Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Jack Oakie, W.C. Fields, Andy Clyde, Lyda Roberti, Susan Fleming, Ben Turpin, Hugh Herbert, George Barbier, Dickie Moore, Billy Gilbert, Bruce Bennett
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Migg Tweeny (Jack Oakie) has been selling brushes in the small country of Klopstokia, and doing very well at it but now it is time to go home to America, and his boss is waiting at the docks for him to arrive and board the ship. However, Migg is late and in his rush he blunders into a woman (Susan Fleming) walking the other way, and they knock each other over. He makes to apologise, then is struck by the woman's good looks: it is love at first sight and he tells her so. The feeling is mutual, and although her young brother (Dickie Moore) prefers to fire arrows at him, Migg believes he has found happiness...

But as the woman's father is the President, and he is played by W.C. Fields, then the course of true love will not run smoothly. Million Dollar Legs was a film designed to cash in on the then-current Olympic Games in Los Angeles that year, but it was far from respectful, transforming the noble event into a series of ridiculous gags that might have been better suited to a contemporary cartoon. It was conceived of by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and directed by a veteran of Hollywood comedy, Edward F. Cline, but it is Fields who really made this film stick in the film buffs' consciousness.

In fact, you'll be wishing there was more of Fields and less of Jack Oakie, even though he is the star of this. Not that Oakie is bad, it's just that he never quite matches the lunacy of the rest of the film, and even at around an hour in length, the film could have done with a little more pep. But when the jokes are on form, they are very funny indeed, especially when the President is showing off his office-winning tremendous strength in a running gag: the Secretary of the Treasury (Hugh Herbert) is forever trying to stage a coup, but as he is always beaten at arm wrestling by his leader he feels vanquished.

Some of Fields' business is a little overfamiliar, see the routines with his top hat that is reluctant to stay on his head, but for a change he is not playing a heavy drinker, supposedly being a fitness fanatic and carrying out exercises at every opportunity, which is absurd in itself, of course. Whether he's breaking a window to call for Migg, using the name "Sweetheart" because that's what his daughter calls him, or getting into a tug of war with his Cabinet behind a wall that he is exerting himself with, the comedian illustrates why he was one of the best around.

The plot has a passing similarity to the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup released about the same time with its irreverent view of government, but here it's sport and not war that concerns the characters. Migg persuades the President that Klopstokia should join the Olympics to improve the economy, as there is a host of possible candidates for the team due to all that goat's milk they drink, the countrymen being prime physical specimens, or they are until the Secretary decides to sabotage things by getting a femme fatale (Lyda Roberti) to seduce them all and make them unsuitable for the Games due to lovesickness and jealousy. Though there are quieter patches, Million Dollar Legs features enough laughs to be worth your while, and star-spotters will be intrigued by the presence of cross-eyed, silent movie star Ben Turpin in an unexplained role - naturally, he never speaks.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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