15 February 2008 | MartinHafer
Dust off those cobwebs!
Will Rogers plays the ambassador from the US to the tiny nation of Sylvania. Instead of being another dull bureaucrat, Bill is very down-to-earth and simple--and approaches the young king and his mother like they are just normal folks as well. This quickly wins over the young king, as he's longing to act like other boys his age.
AMBASSADOR BILL is one of the films of the 1930s that probably did quite well at the time but today seems to have aged very poorly. Now I certainly DON'T think that films this old are bad--in fact, I adore Classic Hollywood. However, the folksy style of this film is something that audiences of the day loved but people today will most likely find very hokey. As for me, I was able to stick with the film but my wife loudly complained that the film was "dull and ridiculous" and soon left the room!
While this film is very short on laughs, it is interesting because the effect this film had on future films, such as the Marx Brothers' DUCK SOUP, is immense. DUCK SOUP is sort of like AMBASSADOR BILL on drugs--as well as being very funny. Heck, even the name of the nation of "Sylvania" was used in both films!
Don't give up on Will Rogers films because AMBASSADOR BILL isn't that great. DOCTOR BULL is a wonderful Rogers film. It's not so much a comedy, but it's a heck of a drama. Rogers could definitely act--but obviously some of his films were hits and some were duds. If seen today, AMBASSADOR BILL is a small but watchable dud.