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Tillie and Gus

(1933 b 58')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Two gambling missionaries help a young couple save their ferry boat in a race for the franchise.

Phineas Pratt (Clarence Wilson) tells Mary Sheridan (Julie Bishop) and Tom Sheridan (Phillip Trent) that the estate only has left a ferry boat. The house was mortgaged, and Pratt bought it. Tom loaned money for the funeral but refuses to sell the boat. Missionary Augustus Winterbottom (W. C. Fields) is on trial for shooting a man six times. The Judge (Edgar Kennedy) gives him one hour to escape. Augustus gets a letter from Pratt. Gambler Tillie Winterbottom (Alison Skipworth) gets a letter too and loses her gambling hall. Augustus and Tille meet at the train station. Augustus pretends to be ignorant and plays poker with help from Tillie, who takes his share for alimony.

Augustus and Tillie call on Pratt, and he offers $1,000 for Mary's boat. Augustus breaks his $3,000 vase. Mary, Tom, and their little son King (Baby LeRoy) welcome Augustus and Tillie. King gets a bath from Tillie while Augustus learns how to mix paint from a radio; but King changes channels. Pratt brings Commissioner McLennan (Barton MacLane) to cancel Mary's ferry franchise; but Augustus tears up the form. McLennan inspects the boat with Augustus. Pratt has a new boat and proposes a race for the franchise. Augustus in a diving suit ties Pratt's boat to the dock and disrupts it while Tillie pumps air. Captain Fogg (George Barbier) puts his smoking pipe by the air intake, and Augustus cries for air; but Tillie gets Fogg to leave so that smoking Augustus can come up.

In the race neither boat takes on passengers. Pratt learns that his boat is tied to the dock, and then it goes in circles. Tom asks Augustus for more wood; but Augustus lets most of it roll overboard. King is in a tub that goes overboard. Augustus in a lifeboat sinks. Tillie falls in and swims to Augustus, and they paddle. King pulls the plug, but Augustus rescues him. Tom burns fireworks. Pratt catches fire and jumps in the water. Tom tells Mary that they won. Pratt swims to Augustus's raft. Augustus calls him a rat and a crook. Wet Pratt confesses that he took Mary's money. In the final scene Tom, Mary, Augustus, and Tillie celebrate.

In this short comedy the W. C. Fields character uses various questionable methods to triumph over other even more reprehensible characters, allowing the audience to fulfill their socially unacceptable wishes to cheat and win in devious ways, because they are being used to help the innocent get what they deserve.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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