Movie Mirrors Index

International House

(1933 b 68')

En: 7 Ed: 6

Eccentrics gather at a Chinese hotel to bid on newly invented television, resulting in entertainment for all except maybe the Legion of Decency.

At Shanghai Tommy Nash (Stuart Erwin) represents the American Electric company and is cajoled by Peggy Hopkins Joyce to give him a ride to Wu-Hu, where inventor Dr. Wong (Edmund Breese) is demonstrating his radioscope that shows pilot Henry Quail (W. C. Fields) drinking beer. In bizarre repartee nurse Allen (Gracie Allen) responds to questions by the hotel manager (Franklin Pangborn) and Dr. Burns (George Burns). Stuck in the desert with Nash, Peggy tries to fry eggs. At the hotel she requests a double bed and meets her ex-husband Nicholas Petronovich (Bela Lugosi), who hopes to make millions on the invention. Nash runs into his fiancée Carol Fortescue (Sari Maritza); two weddings had been canceled because he got sick. He says he is well and takes her to see Peggy in order to relieve her jealousy; but the seductive Peggy causes the reverse effect. Dr. Burns says Nash has measles and tells his nurse to undress him and put him to bed. Nash is put in quarantine.

The hotel presents fifty dancing girls in revealing costumes. Quail lands in his autogyro, thinking it is Kansas City. He puts his autograph on Allen's dress collar and then rips it off so she can see it. Wong invites Quail to stay in his room; but Quail hopes for an offer from Peggy. He disrupts the hotel registration and opens doors to various rooms. He shares Peggy's room and bath without either seeing the other until in twin beds he snores, and she screams. Inventor Wong shows on his screen Rudy Vallee singing "Thank Heaven for You." Quail disturbs the people stupefied by television. Petronovich, excluded by the quarantine, calls Peggy to say he saw her with Quail.

Quail wakes up with Wong and calls Peggy. Hearing he's a millionaire, she suggests they leave together. Quail does not bid on the invention, and Wong asks for sealed bids. Wong screens Baby Rose Marie singing "My Bluebirds Are Singing the Blues." Petronovich and his men plan to break into the hotel. Wong shows Nash Cab Calloway singing "Reefer Man." A general tells the manager to end the quarantine and open the doors; Petronovich and his men rush in with a battering ram. Quail takes Peggy in his car and drives down the hall and staircases. Quail feels around for the starter, and Peggy discovers she is sitting on a pussy (cat). When she gets out of the car with no skirt, Quail says he entertained her. Quail drives his car back into his autogyro and takes off with Peggy, who finds she is sitting on kittens. She asks about their parents, and Quail says they were careless.

This farce made before the censorship crackdown by the Hayes Commission gives some of the flavor of vaudeville and burlesque and yet looks ahead to the television revolution. Burns and Allen are scintillating.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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