W.C. Fields, Hugh Herbert, George Barbier, Andy Clyde, Jack Oakie, and Ben Turpin in Million Dollar Legs (1932)


(director: Edward F. Cline; screenwriter: from the story by Joseph L. Mankiewicz/Ben Hecht/Nicholas T. Barrows/Henry Myers; cinematographer: Arthur L. Todd; music: John Leipold; cast: Jack Oakie (Migg Tweeny), W.C. Fields (The President), Andy Clyde (The Major-Domo), Lyda Roberti (Mata Machree), Susan Fleming (Angela), Ben Turpin (Mysterious Man), Hugh Herbert (Secretary of the Treasury), Dickie Moore (Willie), George Barbier (Mr. Baldwin, President Baldwin Brush Co.); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Herman J. Mankiewicz; Paramount; 1932)
“It’s loaded with sight gags, slapstick and physical humor.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Edward F. Cline (“Swingtime Johnny”/”Hook, Line and Sinker”/”Never Give a Sucker an Even Break”) directs this zany comedy. It’s loaded with sight gags, slapstick and physical humor by Henry Myers and based on one silly story by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It’s about a debt-ridden mythical country named Klopstokia, importer of goats and nuts, in which all men are named George and all women Angela. The country’s president (W.C. Fields) is a mental midget but a physical giant, who prevents a coup d’état from his cabinet head, the Secretary of the Treasury (Hugh Herbert), by beating him daily in arm wrestling. Needing money immediately for his country to survive, the President recruits a visiting salesman from Baldwin Brush (aka: Fuller Brush), Migg Tweeney (Jack Oakie), to raise the money. The lad fell in love with the President’s daughter (Susan Fleming, soon to become Mrs. Harpo Marx) when he accidentally banged into her in the street and remains here to woo her. If successful the President will approve the marriage, but if he fails he’ll be executed. Since everyone in Klopstokia has outstanding athletic ability, Tweeney decides to enter them in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. He assures the Prez that his wealthy boss, Mr. Baldwin (George Barbier), loves jocks and will endow the winning team as part of his advertising promotion. The title comes from all those great runners from Klopstokia; especially the Major-Domo (Andy Clyde), who can outrun a speeding train.

Lyda Roberti has the part of Mata Machree, a sexy spy who works for the cabinet and tries to sabotage the entire Olympic team of Klopstokia by seducing them to chase after her instead of train. Ben Turpin plays a spy dressed in black who pops up all over the place. Dickie Moore plays the kid brother of Tweeney’s girlfriend, who likes to shoot arrows in the American visitor’s rear ends because he thinks they are Indians.

It comes a year before the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup and anticipates that kind of anarchy humor (in its satire it equates physical strength with political power), but it just is too thin a story and its length too short to completely match wits with Duck Soup.