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It's a Gift

(1934 b 68')

En: 6 Ed: 5

A hen-pecked grocer uses an inheritance to buy an orange grove in California; but it turns out to be a miserable place he sells for a fine grove.

Harold Bissonette (W. C. Fields) tries to shave while his daughter Mildred Bissonette (Jean Rouverol) brushes her hair and her teeth. His boy Norman Bissonette (Tommy Bupp) says Harold's uncle is dying and hopes they are going to California. Harold's wife Amelia Bissonette (Kathleen Howard) argues against it. Mildred cries, because she doesn't want to leave her boyfriend. Harold runs the corner grocery store. He hurries to open the door; but the blind Mr. Muckle (Charles Sellon) puts his cane through the glass and upsets a table full of light bulbs. John Durston (Julian Madison) tells Mildred he sold her father an orange grove that is no good. Amelia tells Harold that his uncle has died. John tries to explain to Harold, but he won't listen. Baby Dunk (Baby LeRoy) opens the molasses tap, and so Harold closes the store.

Harold paid $5,000 for the orange grove and sold the grocery store. He gets out of bed to answer the phone; someone wanted the maternity ward. Amelia thinks a maternity ward was calling him, and she nags him. Harold goes out on the porch to sleep on a swinging couch; but the chain comes out of the roof. The milkman rattles bottles, and a coconut rolls down stairs. A man looking for Carl LaFong tries to sell Harold insurance. Baby Dunk drops grapes on Harold and narrowly misses him with an ice pick. Mrs. Dunk from the third floor tells her daughter on the street what to buy; but they can't decide, irritating Harold and making Amelia jealous.

Mildred says good-bye to John, and Harold finally gets their packed car going. They camp in a tent. Amelia tells Harold not to drink and to sleep on the lounge chair by the fire. Harold can't get the chair to work and throws it on the fire. He sings to his neighbors, and a cow moos. In California Harold drives into private property, where they have a picnic on the lawn. A dog bites a pillow, and Harold scatters feathers. He eats crackers and sandwiches. Norman turns on the sprinklers, and a policeman tells them to leave. Amelia likes the orange trees; but their place is desolate with a broken-down shack. Amelia walks off with Mildred and Norman. A neighbor tells Harold that they want his land for their race-track grandstand. Harold turns down increasing offers, as Amelia pleads, and finally gets a $44,000 orange grove. In the final scene at the plush grove he squeezes orange juice, while the family goes off in a new car.

Fields fans will find this satire of a hen-pecked husband seeking a California paradise hilarious. The story reflects the movement west for new opportunity.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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