|Million Dollar Legs|
|Directed by||Edward F. Cline|
|Written by||Nicholas T. Barrows|
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
|Produced by|| Herman J. Mankiewicz |
B. P. Schulberg
|Starring|| Jack Oakie |
W. C. Fields
|Cinematography||Arthur L. Todd|
|Music by||Rudolph G. Kopp (uncredited)|
John Leipold (uncredited)
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Million Dollar Legs is a 1932 American pre-Code comedy film starring Jack Oakie and W.C. Fields, directed by Edward F. Cline, produced by Herman J. Mankiewicz (co-writer of Citizen Kane ) and B.P. Schulberg, co-written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and released by Paramount Pictures. The film was inspired by the 1932 Summer Olympics, held in Los Angeles, California.
While visiting the mythical country of Klopstokia on business, brush salesman Migg Tweeny (Jack Oakie) collides with a young woman (Susan Fleming) on the street and the two fall instantly in love. Her name is Angela—all the women in Klopstokia are named Angela, and the men are named George—and she is the daughter of Klopstokia's president (W.C. Fields), whose country is bankrupt, and who relies upon his great physical strength to dominate a cabinet that is conspiring to overthrow him. Tweeny, hoping to win the hand of the president's daughter in marriage, presents him with a plan to remedy Klopstokia's financial woes: The president is to enter the 1932 Summer Olympics, win the weightlifting competition, and collect a large cash reward that has been offered to medalists by Tweeny's employer. Tweeny then sets out to find athletes to make up Klopstokia's Olympic team, and quickly discovers that the country abounds in athletes of exceptional abilities. The team, with Tweeny as their trainer, boards a steamship bound for America.
Meanwhile, the rebellious cabinet ministers, who are determined to sabotage Klopstokia's Olympic bid, have enlisted the services of "Mata Machree, the Woman No Man Can Resist" (Lyda Roberti), a Mata Hari-based spy character who sets out to destroy the Klopstokian team's morale by seducing each athlete and then setting them against each other in a collective brawl. Her efforts have the intended effect: When the team arrives in Los Angeles, it is in no condition to compete. After a pep talk from Tweeny fails to inspire them, Angela tracks down Mata, defeats her in an underwater fight, and forces a confession from her before the assembled team, which restores the athletes' fighting spirit. They take to the field and begin winning events.
By the time the weightlifting competition begins, Klopstokia needs only three more points for victory. In the film's final scene, Tweeny excites the president's fierce temper in order to inspire him to a final superhuman effort. The president throws a 1000-lb weight at Tweeny, missing him, but winning both the weightlifting competition and the shot put for Klopstokia.
In 1932, The New York Times ' reviewer described the film as "a hopefully mad sort of picture ... where a series of comedians conducted themselves with a total lack of dignity."
After a June 2010 screening in Tribeca, The New Yorker writer David Denby described the film's odd, fragmented structure as well as its overall surreal tone:
Million Dollar Legs...is about as close as Hollywood (in this case, Paramount) ever came to the spirit of Dada. The movie is so silly that it seems both artless and weirdly avant-garde, a style that the studios never quite explored again. Sequences begin and end abruptly; lovers talk parodistic nonsense to each other; Lyda Roberti, a comic dancer and singer with a delicious pan-European accent and alarmingly active hips (she makes Kim Cattrall look inhibited), turns up as a femme fatale, apparently based on Marlene Dietrich. The film bears some resemblance to the Marx Brothers' manic Duck Soup , which came out the following year and is actually more disciplined.
Critic Pauline Kael named Million Dollar Legs as one of her favorite films, calling it a "lunatic musical satire".
Ben Hecht was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist, and novelist. A successful journalist in his youth, he went on to write 35 books and some of the most enjoyed screenplays and plays in America. He received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films.
The 1932 Summer Olympics were an international multi-sport event held from July 30 to August 14, 1932 in Los Angeles, California, United States. The Games were held during the worldwide Great Depression, with some nations not traveling to Los Angeles; 37 nations competed, compared to the 46 in the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, and then-U.S. President Herbert Hoover did not attend the Games. The organizing committee did not report the financial details of the Games, although contemporary newspapers claimed that the Games had made a profit of US$1,000,000.
Joseph Leo Mankiewicz was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career, and won both the Academy Award for Best Director and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in consecutive years for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950), the latter of which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six.
Herman Jacob Mankiewicz was an American screenwriter who, with Orson Welles, wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane (1941). Both Mankiewicz and Welles would go on to receive the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film. He was previously a Berlin correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily, assistant theater editor at The New York Times, and the first regular drama critic at The New Yorker. Alexander Woollcott said that Mankiewicz was the "funniest man in New York".
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If I Had a Million is a 1932 American pre-Code Paramount Studios anthology film starring Gary Cooper, George Raft, Charles Laughton, W.C. Fields, Jack Oakie, Frances Dee and Charlie Ruggles, among others. There were seven directors: Ernst Lubitsch, Norman Taurog, Stephen Roberts, Norman Z. McLeod, James Cruze, William A. Seiter, and H. Bruce Humberstone. Lubitsch, Cruze, Seiter, and Humberstone were each responsible for a single vignette, Roberts and McLeod directed two each, and Taurog was in charge of the prologue and epilogue. The screenplays were scripted by many different writers, with Joseph L. Mankiewicz making a large contribution. If I Had a Million is based on a novel by Robert Hardy Andrews.
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"Raising Kane" is a 1971 book-length essay by American film critic Pauline Kael, in which she revived controversy over the authorship of the screenplay for the 1941 film Citizen Kane. Kael celebrated screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, first-credited co-author of the screenplay, and denigrated the contributions of Orson Welles, who co-wrote, produced and directed the film, and performed the lead role. The 50,000-word essay was written for The Citizen Kane Book (1971), as an extended introduction to the shooting script by Mankiewicz and Welles. It first appeared in February 1971 in two consecutive issues of The New Yorker magazine. In the ensuing controversy Welles was defended by colleagues, critics, biographers and scholars, but his reputation was damaged by its charges. The essay were later questioned after Welles's contributions to the screenplay were documented.
The authorship of the screenplay for Citizen Kane, the 1941 American motion picture that marked the feature film debut of Orson Welles, has been one of the film's long-standing controversies. With a story spanning 60 years, the quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a fictional character based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick. A rich incorporation of the experiences and knowledge of its authors, the film earned an Academy Award for Best Writing for Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles.