International House (1933 film)
|Directed by||A. Edward Sutherland|
|Produced by||Emanuel Cohen|
|Written by||Neil Brant|
Peggy Hopkins Joyce
|Music by||Ralph Rainger
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||May 27, 1933|
|Running time||70 minutes|
- Peggy Hopkins Joyce as herself
- W. C. Fields as Prof. Henry R. Quail
- Stuart Erwin - Tommy Nash
- George Burns - Doctor Burns
- Gracie Allen - Nurse Allen
- Sari Maritza - Carol Fortescue
- Lumsden Hare - Sir Mortimer Fortescue
- Bela Lugosi - Gen. Nicholas Petronovich
- Franklin Pangborn - Hotel Manager
- Edmund Breese - Dr. Wong, Chinese inventor
- Stoopnagle and Budd as F. Chase Taylor and Budd Hulick
- Rudy Vallee as himself
- Cab Calloway as himself, with his band
- Rose Marie as herself ("Baby Rose Marie")
- Sterling Holloway - Coffee Mugg
The film is a mix of numerous acts and bits, like a vaudeville variety show, interlaced with a plot line, in the style of the Big Broadcast pictures that were also released by Paramount during the 1930s. In addition to the typical Fieldsian comic lunacy, it also provides a snapshot of some popular stage and radio acts of the era.
The ostensible plot line concerns a Chinese inventor trying to sell a "radioscope", an early version of television. Unlike real television, this imagined mechanism did not need a camera, but its monitor could zoom in on acts around the world.
The setting is a large hotel in Wuhu, China (from the dialogue, "Wuhu" was clearly chosen as a pun on the greeting "Yoo hoo") and the "international" in the title resonates with the real-life International Settlement in Shanghai. It was actually filmed on Paramount's Hollywood back lot.
Fields portrays Dr. Henry R. Quail, who is one of many people—from all over the world—converging on the "International House Hotel" in Wuhu, though he is the only one not hoping to buy (or steal) Dr. Wong's television invention, as he was intending to land in Kansas City but went off-course.
The film ends with minor characters chasing Fields as he drives Peggy Hopkins Joyce in his American Austin (the smallest car sold in America at that time) through the function rooms of the hotel and up and down the stairs, to drive the car into the hold of his autogyro and take off.
- In Cab Calloway's song "Reefer Man," moreover, bass player Al Morgan performs as if in a trance and Calloway sings about him being "high on reefers."
- When Fields lands in Wu Hu, he asks where he is. Hopkins says "Woo Hoo", Fields says "Where?", and Pangborn says "Wooo Hooo!" in an exaggeratedly gay fashion. Fields replies, in a disgusted fashion, "Don't let the posy fool you" as he throws his boutonniere away.
During the filming of International House, on March 10, 1933, a small tremor struck the set while cameras were rolling, and a Paramount News newsreel featured the story. A documentary featurette on W. C. Fields accompanying the film's DVD release, however, reveals that Fields and director Sutherland faked the footage from the set as a publicity stunt. The actual earthquake was centered in nearby Long Beach, California. About 120 people were killed and most of the downtown section was destroyed.
- Sicherman, Barbara; Green, Carol Hurd (1980). Notable American women: the modern period : a biographical dictionary. Harvard University Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-674-62733-8. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- Aberjhani; Sandra L. West (September 2003). Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. Infobase Publishing. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-8160-4539-6. Retrieved 9 March 2011.