A $50,000 life-insurance sale puts mild-mannered Henry Twinkle on the fast track at Ajax Insurance Company. Now he can marry his girl and climb the corporate ladder -- just as long as the ...
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A $50,000 life-insurance sale puts mild-mannered Henry Twinkle on the fast track at Ajax Insurance Company. Now he can marry his girl and climb the corporate ladder -- just as long as the insured party, Gus Fender, enjoys a long life. Unfortunately, it turns out Gus is a racketeer with an army of gat-carrying rivals. So Henry gets an order from his apoplectic boss: keep Gus alive! Lew Ayres, the popular star of the Dr. Kildare films, hones his comedy skills as hapless Henry, plunged into a world of gangsters and molls. Lloyd Nolan, who enjoyed a 50-year career in film and television, portrays Gus with appropriate menace. Olympic wrestler-turned-actor Nat Pendleton (The Thin Man) stands out as one of Gus's dimwitted henchmen. And among the screenwriters is renowned American humorist S.J. Perelman (Monkey Business, Horse Feathers). "Sprightly little screwball yarn" (Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide). Written by
This film's television premiere took place in Los Angeles Wednesday 12 June 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11); it was first aired in Philadelphia Tuesday 22 October 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), and in New York City 29 April 1963 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »
... in a role that seems like it would be a better fit for Red Skelton.
Ayres plays Henry Twinkle, and there is an extended bit at the very beginning of the film that shows that Twinkle does not know how to assert himself as he has to brave a herd of pedestrians as well as cars almost hitting him as he runs down the street. He's in a hurry to get a client to sign a 50K life insurance policy, and he easily seals the deal as the client is in the elevator on his way out of town. Unfortunately, the client is Gus Fender, a mobster, who is about to be arrested on a slew of charges. He is wanted dead or alive for 25000 dollars as far as bounty hunters are concerned, and the other mobsters he is in league with figure he will talk to get a deal, so they want to get to him first and kill him.
But Twinkle knows none of this and runs back to his insurance agency to show the check to the boss and ask for a raise so he can marry the boss' secretary. But then his boss sees the newspapers talking about Fender and is furious that their chances of having to pay off on that policy in the next 24 hours is about 100%.
But Fender is in trouble too, as he has to get enough money to raise bail so he can turn himself in and then skip the country. He has half of the money he needs - 25K. Fender is holed up in the rural jail of a corrupt town the heads of which he has over a barrel for all of their misdeeds.
Eventually Twinkle and Fender meet again and find a way for them to solve each others problems, but of course it is not going to be that easy. Between misunderstandings, freak occurrences in the stock market, and the naivete of Twinkle, nothing goes according to plans.
This one is great fun and deserves to be better remembered. Virginia Bruce is practically unrecognizable as Fender's girlfriend. Nat Pendleton is quite believable as one of Fender's tough guys. And Leon Errol adds to the zaniness of the proceedings as the uncle of Twinkle's fiancée who hasn't had a real job in years (maybe never?) but is always trying new compositions on his oversized xylophone. Extra kudos to Lew Ayres as Twinkle, who is playing a part about 180 degrees out of what he normally plays - the thoughtful serious guy, usually a physician.
I'd recommend this one for the fun of it all.
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