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A Connecticut Yankee

(1931 b 95')

En: 5 Ed: 5

This Will Rogers political satire updates Mark Twain's spoof of Arthurian England to the radio age.

Radio man Hank Martin (Will Rogers) goes to a haunted house to fix the radio with a battery and meets two women and an inventor, who listens to the past. Suddenly Hank finds himself back in King Arthur's court, where he is put in chains as a strange monster. He complains of his treatment to King Arthur (William Farnum) and shows the magic of a cigarette lighter. The king sentences him to be burned at the stake. Discovering the date, Hank predicts a solar eclipse, powerful enough magic not only to win a reprieve but also to make him prime minister. Asked what title he wants, Hank says that, like Mussolini, he just wants to be called boss. So he is dubbed Sir Boss. He sets up armor factories and aims to put it all over with advertising - the art that "makes people spend money they don't have for things they don't need." Challenged by Sir Sagramor, Sir Boss fights in a joust, which he wins by using a lasso.

King Arthur asks Sir Boss to rescue his daughter Alisande (Maureen O'Sullivan). After Sir Boss's democratic speech, Clarence is made a knight even though he is not an aristocrat. Sir Boss asks the king to go along, and he tells him that he plans to arbitrate rather than fight. Both are captured by the men of Arthur's sister Queen Morgan le Fay (Myrna Loy). Arthur is sent to the dungeon while the queen woos Sir Boss. Seeing the king and his daughter in the dungeon, Sir Boss asks that they be released. Then he runs off and shoots soldiers with a pistol until it runs out of bullets. The king, his daughter, and Sir Boss are lined up to be hanged; but just as it is their turn, Clarence brings a battalion of cars, a tank, and an airplane that drops bombs. More guns and rifles win the battle, and then dynamite blows up the castle. Henry finds himself back at the haunted house with the radio of the past. He leaves in a car rescuing the young woman, who is running away with Clarence to marry him.

Although he intended to use arbitration, the bulky and primitive weapons of the age of chivalry are quickly overcome by the devastating war technology of the twentieth century. The mindless manufacture of armor and weapons led directly to a devastating war just as the fascists were doing in the early thirties. Modern wars can destroy so much faster than the long drawn-out wars of the middle ages. Though technology has advanced, humans are still foolishly trying to kill each other and are doing so more efficiently.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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