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  • During the height of his popularity in the 1930s, comedian Joe E. Brown made a horrible business decision. While he was among Hollywood's most popular actors with Warner Brothers, he decided to accept an offer from David Lowe Productions--a tiny studio that had little to offer Brown. Why he accepted this offer is unknown to me, though what is obvious is that his career took a nosedive. I've seen most of his Lowe films and while none of them are terrible, most are clearly second-rate. "Flirting With Fate" is the last of his Lowe films.

    Joe is an actor and leader of an acting troop. Oddly, they end up in Paraguay--a strange place for American actors! But, despite being very down on their luck, things look promising when they have a try-out with a top theater owner. But, unknown to Brown and his employees, the owner is the same man that Brown had insulted in the previous scene. Now instead of having jobs, they are blackballed and can't find anything in the country. When the troop does get an offer, it's back in the States and Brown thinks the only way he can get the money for plane fare is to kill himself and leave them the insurance money (by the way, folks, don't try this yourself as insurance policies do NOT pay off for suicides). Much of the rest of the film is a dark comedy where Brown tries various methods to do himself in--first with ant poison and then by picking a fight with a lion! There's quite a bit more to it than this--tune and see what happens next.

    For the most part, this is an amiable little film--mostly because Brown's character is a nice fellow--even if he is a clumsy oaf. In many of his Warner Brothers films, his characters are so ego-centric that they are hard to like--but that is not the case here. The film, though, it not without its problems. It rarely is very funny plus the scenes involving him and a new friend dressing up as a bull are just embarrassingly bad. Still, the film is enjoyable and not a bad little time-passer.

    By the way, what is a 'woodpussy'?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Another "B" picture from Joe E. Brown with smiles, not laughs, for the gags tossed out by him as a supposed Broadway comic south of the border. Adolescent boys of the 1930's probably laughed hysterically at the sight of Brown inside a bull suit dancing around with a beehive on his horn while trying to get away from a group of bandits he encountered earlier in the film while on his way to an audition for the greatest producer south of the Rio Grande. Unfortunately, the man whose white suit he splattered with mud turns out to be the producer he's auditioning for, and if he doesn't continue to spill ink on him or dump a flower pot on his head, he'll end up giving him a cigar that you know is destined to explode.

    This film is more about getting away from the bandits and getting rid of the very untalented Spanish singer (Steffi Duna) who thinks she's the best singer since Jeanetter MacDonald. Wait until she breaks into Mozart. Other than Brown, Duna and Leo Carrillo (as the romantic bandit who falls in love with everything about Duna but her voice), the rest of the cast pretty much get nothing to do. As a result, this is an almost one-man show with the rest of the cast as his stooges.