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He Couldn't Say No

(1938 b 59')

En: 5 Ed: 4

A timid man buys a nude statue of his dream girl and refuses to sell it, causing consternation for his girl-friend and a puritanical senator.

Lambert Hunkins (Frank McHugh) takes the subway, cuts out a photo of Iris Mabby (Diana Lewis), and missing his stop, is late for work. His boss Oxnard O. Parsons (Ferris Taylor) raises his salary from $30 to $40 a week and makes Lambert the advertising department. Violet Coney (Jane Wyman) invites Lambert to dinner and tells her mother (Cora Witherspoon) he got a raise. Lambert arrives, and Mrs. Coney says he will be a sensible husband; but Lambert says he has a dream girl. The three go to a furniture auction. Violet and her mother try to get Lambert to bid but can't stop him from bidding on a statue of Courage, and he gets it for $100. Senator Mabby (Berton Churchill) tells Iris he must buy the statue, or his political career will be ruined; but they arrive late. Mabby finds Lambert and offers him $1,000, but Lambert refuses to sell it. Violet and her mother complain. Mabby offers more and threatens to smash it. Violet tells Lambert he can't have both and leaves. Iris calls on Lambert, tells him not to sell, and kisses him.

Parsons reads about Lambert loving a statue and fires him. Julia Becker (Rita Gould) calls on Lambert and says she created the sculpture. She borrows $5 and promises to come back with Ambition and Achievement. Iris visits Lambert and says her father wants to destroy the statue because it is of her, and he is against nudity. Three gangsters plot to steal it but order Lambert to sell it for $150,000. Iris and her father come in as the gangsters hide. Iris says that Lambert is an idealist; but when he asks for $150,000, they leave. The gangster Dimples (Tom Kennedy) stays with Lambert. A telegram from an Iowa museum offers Lambert $5,000. Lambert knocks out Dimples with his cane and takes a company truck. Parsons hears of it and calls the police. Gangsters Slug and Hymie come in, tie up Lambert, and take the wrapped statue in the truck. Parsons and the police untie Lambert, who says they stole Dimples instead. Slug and Hymie are arrested with Dimples. Lambert sells the statue to the museum, and Parsons offers him another raise. Lambert explains to Sen. Mabby and Iris. Mrs. Coney and Violet come in and snatch the check; but Lambert calls Mrs. Coney a battle-ax and says he is not going to marry Violet, because he wants to marry Iris. Two more nude statues are brought in, and Lambert kisses Iris.

This comedy allows the audience to identify with a common man who shows the courage of his inner vision to get what he wants despite efforts by others to try to control him. The senator is satirized for his political prudery.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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