22 March 2010 | jacksflicks
A moment of history
1932. The snappy opening music. The Dilbert with his Big Idea, laughed out of the office. Goes to L.A. to get an inheritance. Thanks to a shyster lawyer, ends up with only 5 dollars and a pickaninny. Destitiute, As it happened, our hero and ward were bound for Catalina for a $6 day job, when fate stepped in. Mistaken for a marathon swimmer and ends up in the Catalina race for $25,000, though he can't swim. Plug Joe E. Brown into this farce, and you have an early talkie classic. Of course, much of this will offend the politically correct, and much of the humor will escape current audiences. But there are so many fun moments -- the mock-cerebral inner dialogs of the half-wit hero, the amazing costumes (were they serious back then?), the vintage shots of Catalina Island, Ginger Rogers' fresh plump face, the wonderful "I found my heart in Avalon" soundtrack....
In real life, Wrigley had offered a $25,000 prize for swimming first from Catalina to the mainland. And some actually entered who couldn't swim. But 1932 was the Depression, and people would do anything for a windfall, even if they couldn't.
Of course, much of this seems corny and dated, but watch it more than once, and I think the rustic charm will grow on you. There will never be another Joe E. Brown. After all, "Nobody's perfect."