Poppy (1936 film)
|Directed by||A. Edward Sutherland|
|Written by||Waldemar Young|
Virginia Van Upp
by Dorothy Donnelly
|Produced by||Paul Jones|
|Starring||W. C. Fields|
|Cinematography||William C. Mellor|
|Edited by||Stuart Heisler|
|Music by||Friedrich Hollaender|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|June 17, 1936|
Poppy is a 1936 comedy film starring W. C. Fields and Rochelle Hudson. The film was based on a 1923 stage revue of the same name starring Fields and Madge Kennedy. This was the second film version of the revue, following Sally of the Sawdust in 1925 with Carol Dempster in the title role and which also starred Fields.
Eustace McGargle (Fields), a con artist, snake oil salesman and exponent of the shell game, tries to escape the sheriff while taking care of his beloved adopted daughter, Poppy (Hudson), who, after pretending to be an heiress to win an inheritance, turns out really to be an heiress.
- W. C. Fields as Professor Eustace McGargle
- Rochelle Hudson as Poppy
- Richard Cromwell as Billy Farnsworth
- Catherine Doucet as Countess Maggi Tubbs DePuizzi
- Lynne Overman as Attorney Whiffen
- Granville Bates as Mayor Farnsworth
- Maude Eburne as Sarah Tucker
- Bill Wolfe as Egmont
- Adrian Morris as Constable Bowman
- Rosalind Keith as Frances Parker
- Ralph Remley as Carnival Manager
At the time of filming, Fields was suffering the effects of his heavy drinking, together with attempts to stop drinking. He injured his back during the making of the film. These factors mean that Fields was not able to give his best performance. Fields was ill during the production, and a fairly obvious double was used in several scenes requiring physical exertion. He still managed a memorable performance, including these well-known lines spoken to his daughter Poppy (Hudson):
- "What a gorgeous day... what effulgent sunshine... effulgent sunshine, yes... 'twas a day of this sort, the McGillicuddy brothers murdered their mother with an axe!"
- "And if we should ever separate, my little plum, I want to give you just one bit of fatherly advice: Never give a sucker an even break!"
On its release, The New York Times called it a "glorious victory" for Fields and comedy, while conceding that the scenes without Fields were "painfully frail" and would provoke some squirming and eye-rolling. Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene gave the film a good review commenting that for this film "Mr Fields has never acted better." Comparing Fields' characterization to that of Charlie Chaplin's characterizations in his own films, Greene notes that Fields "wins our hearts not by a display of Chaplin sentiment, not by class solidarity (he robs the poor as promptly as the rich), but simply by the completeness of his dishonesty".
More recently, The Age of Comedy was unimpressed, finding the film uninteresting and over-serious apart from Fields' presence, and Fields not at his best.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- Prof. Eustace P. McGargle: "Never give a sucker an even break." – Nominated
- Slide, Anthony (2012). The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 178. ISBN 9781617032509.
- Menefee, David W. (2004). The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era. ISBN 9780275982591.
- Bordman, Gerald (2001). American Musical Theater:A Chronicle. Oxford UP. p. 428. ISBN 9780195130744.
- "Poppy". The Age of Comedy. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Nugent, Frank S (June 18, 1936). "Movie Review: Poppy (1936)". New York Times.
- Greene, Graham (17 July 1936). "Poppy/Living Dangerously/Charlie Chan at the Circus". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0192812866.)
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.