It's a Gift
- Norman Z. McLeod
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, November 03, 2005
Under the pseudonym Charles Bogle, Fields concocted a satirical story that tackles some of the subjects that he finds more annoying: family, salesmen, neighbors, etc. Scripted by Jack Cunningham, the plot has Fields as a family man who inherits some money from a relative and decides to buy an orange ranch in California. His wife (Kathleen Howard) doesn’t quite agree and keeps bothering him about it… and about most everything else. Harold Bissonette (‘Bis-son-ay’, Mrs. Bissonette would correct you) has always followed suit and is at the end of his rope. This time he’ll do as he pleases.
The first segment, at home, is a perfect introduction to a hilarious story, with the most uncomfortable shave any man can get and some action with misplaced skates. The second segment, at the grocery store where he works, is even funnier, with a blind and half-deaf customer (Charles Sellon) crashing around while other customers get impatient and Harold can’t quite deal with them all. The third segment, at the back porch, is also priceless, especially through the appearance of an insurance salesman (T. Roy Barnes) who’s looking for a Carl LaFong, Capital L, small a, capital F, small o, small n, small g…, and keeps bothering Harold about that, while other neighbors and circumstances also make sure that he doesn’t get any rest. Finally there’s the last segment, the road trip, which is a climatic sequence, not necessarily funnier than all the previous ones, but quite an appropriate wrap-up. All in all, the whole experience is a laugh-out-loud trip.
Fields is my kind of comedian. He’s grouchy and misunderstood, but somehow he always makes his way. He’s fatty but pantomime is not a problem for him and he’s got enough ability to pull off every physical gimmick that’s required, or at least most of them. He’s the kind of guy who has everything to be disliked but turns that around to be irresistible. You constantly root for him but you also want him to face obstacles all the time since he does it so hilariously. He’s the star of the show and no one takes that away for a second.
The ensemble around is perfection, from Howard as his wife and Jean Rouverol and Tommy Bupp as his children, to everyone playing neighbors and passers-by. The standouts are Sellon and Barnes, though that’s something of a bold statement since everyone is so good.
A priceless American classic and a fantastic comedy, It’s a Gift is not to be missed.
Buyer: “You’re drunk!”
Harold: “Yeah, and you're crazy. But I'll be sober tomorrow, and you'll be crazy for the rest of your life!”
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