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So's Your Old Man (1926)

So's Your Old Man (1926) Famous Players-Lasky. Distributor: Paramount Pictures. Presenters: Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky. Director: Gregory La Cava. Screenplay: J. Clarkson Miller. Production editor: Ralph Block. Titles: Julian Johnson. Adaptation: Howard Emmett Rogers. Photography: George Webber. Art Titles: John Held, Jr. Film Editor: Julian Johnson. Cast: W.C. Fields, Alice Joyce, Charles Rogers, Kitten Reichert, Marcia Harris, Julia Ralph, Frank Montgomery, Jerry Sinclaire. 7 reels, 6,347 ft.

A copy of this film is preserved at the Library of Congress (16 mm viewing print). This film was remade by Fields as You're Telling Me (1934) with Adrienne Ames in the Joyce role.

The neglected Princess has an unfriendly meeting with her husband while Fields attempts some pleasantries.
(Thanks to Derek Boothroyd for these pictures)
So's your old man
So's your old man Isn't that a great hat?
The unhappy royal family again. So's your old man
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Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World
Viewing Comments

Review from Variety, November 3, 1926


Gregory La Cava Production presented by Famous Players-Lasky, starring W.C. Fields with Alice Joyce and Charles Rogers featured. At the Rivoli, New York, week Oct. 30. Running time, 67 min.

Samuel Bisbee W. C. Fields
Princess Lescaboura Alice Joyce
Kenneth Murchison Charles Rogers
Alice Bisbee Kittens Reichert
Mrs. Bisbee Marcia Harris
Mrs. Murchison Julia Ralph
Jeff Frank Montgomery
Al Jerry Sinclair

Boys, here is a combination that for laughs and gags would be hard to beat. W.C. Fields in "So's Your Old Man" is in the funniest picture he has made to date. He is one end of the combination; the other is Gregory La Cava (otherwise Mr. McAlpin), the same who directed a string of Richard Dix pictures that were such outstanding hits.

In "So's Your Old Man" no great outstanding comedy wallop, but it is a series of humorous situations and laugh compelling bits that follow along in an endless train from the beginning to the end.

The story looks as though it might have had the benefit of the fine Italian hand of one Tom Gerahty, leads up to a point where Fields can logically introduce his famous golf game. That piece of business proves funnier on the screen than on the stage, and that means a whole lot.

But don't believe the golf bit is the funniest kick in the picture. There are others and lots. Fields' souse bit with a trick pony will be a wow to any audience, and his pantomime in the stateroom of a Pullman, where he is relating to the Spanish princess the events leading up to his present state of dejection, is as clever a piece of film acting and direction as have been seen in a long while.

Fields is Sam Bisbee, a glazier in a small New Jersey town. He lives in a tumbled down sort of a house with his wife and daughter, the latter a pretty girl courted by the son of the wealthy Murchisons. The day the story opens young Murchison calls to inform the girl that his mother is going to visit her that afternoon.

Mother arrives and all goes well until Pa Bisbee comes in from the shop, which is back of the house and where he has been celebrating with a couple of cronies.

He gums the works but tells the haughty Mrs. Murchison that in a couple of days he is going to be as much of the social elect as she is. He has invented an unbreakable glass for automobiles and has been asked to demonstrate it before a convention of automobile men in Washington. He goes there, having his flivver equipped with the glass, parks it in front of the hotel while he goes in to see the committee, and then comes a piece of business. His car is moved while he is in the hotel. When he returns armed with bricks and a hammer to go through with the test he picks another flivver, smashes the glass, then selects another with the same fate and, to escape arrest, must beat it without getting his own car.

Returning home on the train he decides to end it all by the poison route, but his battle [sic] is smashed. A few minutes later, when the train gives a lurch, he is thrown into the stateroom of the Spanish princess. Noting a bottle of iodine on the table before her, he believes she is ready to take the same route and startes [sic] to dissuade her.

As he relates his story her sympathy is aroused and she registers a mental reservation to help the disappointed man out. She does not inform him who she is, but tells him he may call her "Marie."

On the train with him were a couple of the village's old women gossips. They spread the story of his ride with a woman in a stateroom. It is around the home town like wildfire before he is back five minutes. To get up courage to go home he seeks out his serious drinking pals and the trio stage a bat that lasts three days. Meantime the princess has announced her intention to visit the little town and the social elect arrange a reception but are flabbergasted when she asks for "Old Sam." The party starts for his home and runs across the old boy headed that way himself, having purchased a pony to present to the wife as a peace offering.

From that point on the story tells of the acceptance by society of the Bisbees, for the princess remains at their home, and Sam is selected to tee off the first ball at the opening of the new Country Club. That heads into the golf game. Atop of that there arrives the chairman of the auto men's convention, who discovered the real car and tested the glass for himself, found it was as claimed and is ready to hand over a million-dollar contract.

Fields is great and one doesn't have to say more. Charles Rogers looks as though he is going to be a better and better bet as he develops, and Kittens Reichert is a girl that will bear watching. Alice Joyce is looking a little as though she were going in too strenuously for reduction and it is showing in her face, although she gives a corking performance.

But it is Fields and the funny bits well directed that will send this one over. Right now it might be claimed as a wow of a burlesque on the visit of Queen Marie and all the more appreciated because of this.

Review from Moving Picture World, November 20, 1926

"So's Your Old Man"
W.C. Fields Displays a Ripening Technique in His Third feature Comedy for Paramount
Reviewed by Epes W. Sargent.

[Omitted--picture of Fields and two women--can't see clearly enough to identify]

W.C. FIELDS, in his third starring vehicle, shows a ripening picture technique. Still clinging to some of his stage "sure fires," he is evidently finding that the purely picture gags get over better, and he is changing his style slightly to meet the changed condition. In "So's Your Old Man" he is seen in a coherent, if rather sketchy, story of the inventor of an unbreakable windshield glass who unfortunately makes his public test of the wrong cars, proving it is a wise fliverist who knows his own Ford.

His disappointment is somewhat assuaged by the efforts of the Princess Lescaboura to reinstate him in the confidence of his fellow townsmen, and she makes him the local hero. One or two ideas are held too long, but there is plenty of movement and many laughs. Fields would be wise to discard the tramp juggler idea for the cleaner make-up he uses in the latter scenes. He can be funny with a clean face.

Alice Joyce displays real comedy finesse as the Princess and "Kittens" Reichert and Charles Murchison [sic!] make a pleasant pair of sweethearts. Marcia Harris, as the wife and Julia Ralph, as the fashionable leader, contribute excellent character bits, adding materially to the story interest.

"So's Your Old Man" should prove acceptable entertainment.

Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky Present
W.C. Fields in
"So's Your Old Man"
Based on Julian Street's story, "Mr. Bisbee's Princess
Directed by Gregory LaCava

Samuel Bisbee W. C. Fields
Princess Lescaboura Alice Joyce
Kenneth Charles Rogers
Alice Bisbee Kittens Reichert
Mrs. Bisbee Marcia Harris
Kenneth's Mother Julia Ralph
Jeff Frank Montgomery
Al Jerry Sinclair

Length--6,347 feet.
Small town inventor gets into all sorts of complications trying to market his unbreakable windshield, including a flirtation with a visiting Princess, but is taken up by society, his daughter marries a rich chap and he sells his invention. Rapid-fire farce comedy.

Viewing comments

This film is very similar to its remake, You're Telling Me, with a few minor, mostly irrelevant, changes in detail. Fields has invented an unbreakable windshield rather than a puncture-proof tire, and he brings home a fractious pony to placate his wife. Alice Joyce's character, the Princess Lescaboura, is married in this version, and the husband brings the famous golf routine to an end by appearing with a gun ready to shoot. The automobile executive still appears at this point, but Fields treats him to some rough physical comedy instead of having the Princess bid up the contract--an improvement in the remake. Otherwise the golf sequence is nearly identical to Field's other film renditions of it--one can even remember his verbal asides. Though it's hard to imagine an odder combination than Alice Joyce and W.C. Fields, in this story it works. She is a perfect choice for the dignified but kindly princess on whom the plot hinges, and she appears to be having fun with the role, smiling and winking at Fields, and even getting a belly laugh as literally the butt of a joke when Fields nearly whacks her with a golf club. Though one misses Field's voice, it is still a very funny film and certainly the best Field's silent that I have seen.
Print viewed: 16 mm print at the Library of Congress.

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Last revised December 23, 2008