It's a Gift

73 minutes 2013

W.C. Fields is a small-town grocer who inherits a fortune, buys an orange grove in California, and piles his wife and kids into their ramshackle car for a journey west. The plot isn't much more than a clothesline on which director Norman Z. McLeod hangs an assortment of the star's tried-and-true vaudeville routines, but they're solid gold; the high point is an extended sequence in which Fields, trying to catch a nap on his apartment building's back porch, is thwarted by everything from a delivery boy's clanking bottles to a coconut bouncing down the stairs to Baby Leroy, on the porch above, dropping an icepick through a hole in the floor. McLeod's middling reputation doesn't quite square with his track record of classic comedies—the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business and Horse Feathers, Bob Hope's Road to Rio and The Paleface, Cary Grant's Topper, Danny Kaye's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty—and this 1934 feature ranks among Fields's best.

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