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The Show-Off

(1934 b 77')

En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a play by George Kelly, a bragging spendthrift gets married and alienates his wife with his foolish lies until two big deals he meddled in come through successfully.

On a boat a drunk walks the rail and falls in the river. Aubrey Piper (Spencer Tracy) throws a life raft, is pushed in, and is credited with helping to save him. When the confident Aubrey tells a man he knows railroad president J. B. Preston (Claude Gillingwater), it turns out to be Preston's brother, and he almost loses his job. After meeting her on the boat, Aubrey looks at houses with Amy (Madge Evans) of Fisher Realty. He returns a fancy car after a demonstration. Ma Fisher (Clara Blandick) and Pa Fisher (Grant Mitchell) complain about the loud talking and laughing of Aubrey; but Amy likes him. Aubrey tells Amy's brother Joe (Henry Wadsworth), an inventor, about how he lost his invention. Aubrey tells Amy he loves her, and they get married.

After six months Amy confronts Aubrey with bills he lied about, and he gets a notice that half his $32-a-week salary has been attached. Amy says they must give up the apartment and move to her parents' home; she will get her old job back. Aubrey promises to do better, gets to work early, and skips lunch. Taking contracts to J. B. Preston's office, Aubrey advises a businessman and gets him to sign the contracts. Preston tells Aubrey he cost them $30,000 on worthless land and fires him. Aubrey flamboyantly resigns. Aubrey comes to Ma and Pa with a bandage on his head from a car accident in which he broke a policeman's arm. Amy's brother-in-law Frank paid his $1,000 bail. Amy learns that Aubrey got fired and says she won't live with him.

Aubrey asks Joe about Amy, and Joe tells Aubrey lawyers are offering him $5,000 for his invention. Aubrey goes to the attorneys and as Joe's manager asks for $100,000 against 50% of the net profits. The lawyer says the deal is off. Aubrey abjectly tells Amy he ruined Joe's deal; but Joe tells Amy and Aubrey he got $50,000 and 20% of the profits. A letter from J. B. Preston arrives, telling Aubrey the land is now worth five times what they paid and offering him a position. With these big breaks, Amy is reconciled with Aubrey.

A definite type is portrayed in this back-slapping extrovert with grandiose ideas and little substance. This first sound version puts a happy ending on what could have been a sad story. The changes of fortune are realistic, though these two successes must be rather rare. The economic concerns of the 20s and 30s are reflected in the young couple's plight.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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