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  Six of a Kind Vacation All We Ever Wanted
Year: 1934
Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Charles Ruggles, Mary Boland, W.C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Alison Skipworth, Bradley Page, Grace Bradley, William J. Kelly, Phil Tead
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: J. Pinkham Whinney (Charles Ruggles) and his wife of twenty years, Flora (Mary Boland), have not been away on a holiday together since their honeymoon at Niagara Falls all that time ago, so now have made up their minds to set off for California and a relaxing vacation. However, Flora may have made a mistake in placing an advertisement in the newspaper seeking a couple to share their journey to alleviate the burden of expenses, especially when she sees the eccentric couple - George (George Burns) and Gracie (Gracie Allen) - who answer it...

Six of a Kind was essentially an excuse for Paramount to bring together a selection of their comedy talent and gather them all in the one place with the hopes that the box office tills would be set a-ringing. They put one of their most seasoned directors, Leo McCarey, in charge - his previous film had been the all-time classic Duck Soup, although it had not been raised to that stature yet - and felt confident that he would whip the cast into some kind of chucklesome shape. As it turned out, the film was not the work that any of them were best remembered for, but it has provided a welcome entertainment for those willing to give it a chance down the decades.

Ruggles and Boland are the straight men here to the mayhem that erupts around them, although they do get some funny bits of business of their own. The trouble with putting this variety of talent in one movie was that no one star really stood out as they don't get enough opportunities to dominate the screen, so there's often a sense of wheeling them on, getting them to do their skit, then wheeling them off again, although there is a proper story to all this. It features a bank robbery of an unusual kind where Whinney's suitcase is stuffed with thousands of dollars by a crooked colleague who hopes to pick it up later.

That colleague, Ferguson (Bradley Page), plans to intercept the case later on, framing Whinney for the crime and making off with the loot himself, but with George and Gracie on board things do not work out quite the way anybody intended, least of all the Whinneys. For a start, they have brought along their massive hound which insists on sitting in the front seat and growling menacingly at the driver if he doesn't take up George and Gracie's suggestions about the correct route to take, which leads them on an out of the way journey that includes what might as well be the Old West. Fortunately for comedy purposes, that also brings in the presence of W.C. Fields.

He plays the Sheriff, known as Honest John for dubious reasons, and gets to perform his highly amusing pool room routine where he has great trouble in hitting the ball with the cue, again, a piece which has no bearing on the plot but does fill up the time adequately. After surviving a fall of a cliff thanks to Gracie doing the old "I'll take your picture, just back away a bit... a bit more..." gag, and being robbed when Gracie insists on waking a couple of bandits to ask directions in spite of a huge sign telling them the correct way to go right next to the road, the Whinneys make it to the small town little knowing the police are on their trail. It's all very silly, and as an early example of the screwball comedy that would grow in popularity over the next few years, Six of a Kind may be shapeless but does display its style of humour with some flair.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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