"It's A Gift" Is Released
It's a Gift is a 1934 comedy film starring W. C. Fields.
Considered by many to be Fields' best and funniest film, it concerns the trials and tribulations of a grocery store owner as he battles a shrewish wife, an incompetent assistant, and assorted annoying children, customers, and salesmen.
Lesser known than some of Fields' later works such as The Bank Dick, the film is perhaps the best example of the recurring theme of the Everyman battling against his domestic entrapment. Film buffs, historians, and critics have often cited its numerous memorable comic moments. It is one of several Paramount Pictures in which Fields contended with child actor Baby LeRoy.
W.C. Fields is in fine fettle as small-town grocer Harold Bissonette (pronounced Biss-o-NAY). Harold dreams of becoming a California orange farmer, but his gorgon wife (Kathleen Howard) will have none of it. After a grueling day at the store, during which his electric light stock is destroyed by a cane-wielding blind man (Charles Sellon), and his floor is flooded with molasses by the impish Baby LeRoy, Harold announces that he's sold the store and bought an orange grove. Seeking to escape his wife's nagging, Harold tries to sleep on his porch, which proves impossible thanks to innumerable interruptions--not least of which is an insurance salesman (T. Roy Barnes) loudly asking for Karl LaFong ("capital L, small A, capital F, small O, small N, small G!") The next day, Harold packs his family into the car and heads off for California. Once there, the little band of pilgrims drives onto the property of a wealthy man, assuming that it's a public park. They make a shambles of the grounds while trying to have a picnic, whereupon they are chased off the land by the scowling owner (Guy Usher). Finally, Harold arrives at his "vast" orange grove--consisting of a tumbledown shack and one scrawny tree. Harold sits silently ruminating over his bad luck until his new neighbor informs him that a wealthy land developer wishes to buy Harold's property to build a stadium. "Don't let them bluff you," advises the neighbor. "You can get any price." The potential buyer turns out to be the same fellow whose property had been invaded by Bissonette the day before, but business is business. The buyer offers several insulting sums, but Harold, fortified by a flask of gin, holds firm. "You're drunk!" the buyer shouts. "And you're crazy," responds Harold. "But tomorrow I'll be sober, and you'll always be crazy." Harold's stubbornness saves the day, and we fade on the satisfying sight of the Bissonette family living in luxury on the huge orange grove of Harold's dreams. A remake of Fields' silent It's the Old Army Game, It's a Gift was written by J.P. McEvoy and one Charles Bogle--and there isn't a Fields fancier alive who doesn't know who Charles Bogle really is. Downplayed by detractors as being merely three two-reelers strung together, It's a Gift has survived such piddling criticism to emerge as one of W.C. Fields' funniest efforts, as well as a comedy classic by any standards. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide