A Fool's Advice (1932) Poster

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Is This How Frank Fay Played Elwood P. Dowd On Broadway?
alonzoiii-128 December 2011
Frank Fay, a nice guy who spends his life solving everyone else's problems by providing A FOOL'S ADVICE, saves his indifferent cozy community from corrupt politicians, and earns said community's somewhat unfocused gratitude. Will Fay at least get the girl, or make some money, or have something nice happen to him?

This is an oddly melancholy picture, where Frank Fay, the author of the story and producer of the picture, rather badly serves Frank Fay, the actor, who is just not funny in something that is supposed to be gentle comedy (in the manner of a Will Rogers picture). Fay is playing a nice guy who, it is implied, really is too nice for his own good, even though he has the smarts to rise to any occasion, and mechanical skills that let him "help" in the invention of a new, superduper recording device. Problem is, that the intended comedy highlight, where Fay falls victim to stage fright while delivering a campaign speech, completely undercuts his character, while pointedly making it obvious that Fay is a lesser comedian than Robert Benchley.

Nonetheless, there is something curious and somewhat haunting in Fay's performance that sticks with one -- indicating that this genial, good-tempered character will never really succeed, even on his own terms -- and that he knows it, even if he is not about to change. It's an odd star persona, and one can see why this movie is not well-known.

But this character does seem to be a cousin to Elwood P. Dowd, the genial drinking man who sees a giant rabbit named Harvey, and dropped out of the rat race. And Fay's performance of that role on Broadway was famous, even if it was Jimmy Stewart who did the part in the movies. So maybe this film was the prototype for a legendary performance that is now gone.
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Up and Down with Frank Fay
wes-connors6 July 2010
Likable elevator operator Frank Fay (as Spencer Brown) falls for pretty co-worker Ruth Hall (as Norma Baker), but doesn't know she's falling in love with his young inventor pal, George Meeker (as Harry Bayliss). To help win Ms. Hall's heart, Mr. Fay uses his popularity with hotel residents to back the re-election campaign of Hall's uncle, Benton Churchill (as Martin Sloan). If the incumbent mayor loses, dastardly George Diamond (as George Diamond) plans to tear down Fay's hotel for a railroad...

Re-titled "Meet the Mayor" for late 1930s reissue and later TV showing, "A Fool's Advise" finds once famous Fay's star dimmed. The popular vaudeville entertainer was reportedly the male model for "A Star Is Born" (1937) - if so, he wasn't the first or last man to look the part. In real life, Fay was destined to become "Mr. Barbara Stanwyck" - but, herein, he is still a surprisingly affable, effective leading man. In hindsight, the first signs of a downslide are here, but his assets are also prominently displayed.

**** A Fool's Advice (2/20/32) Ralph Ceder ~ Frank Fay, Ruth Hall, George Meeker, Benton Churchill
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An Interesting Performance
boblipton25 December 2018
Frank Fay is the helpful elevator operator at a small town hotel. He has good advice for everyone, whether it's mayor Berton Churchill who's facing a tough re-election campaign, or Eddie Nugent who needs help with his newest invention, and with asking Ruth Hall to be his girl. Frank will give them good advice, even when he thinks Ruth will be his girl when he asks her.

It's a slow-paced and very odd comedy that Mr. Fay stars in. You can see a persona completely different from any of the standard screen comics; in fact, the only role this reminds me of is Elwood P. Dowd in HARVEY. Mr. Fay would originate the role on stage.

It's not really a movie, but actually a stage play sized for the screen, written by Walter DeLeon and Charles Belden. This was his character -- on stage anyway, if not in real life.Fay shares screenwriting credit with them, but I suspect he did his own dialogue. This was his character, after all, on stage, if not in real life, and he knew what the character would say: kind, easy-going, smart and persuasive.

Anyway, it's worth seeing for Mr. Fay's performance.
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MartinHafer22 February 2016
The major Vaudeville and Broadway star like Frank Fay only has 16 credits on IMDb. So, if you want to see this famous guy in a film, this is one of your only chances to see him in a leading role. However, I wasn't particularly impressed...and much of it may have to do with the story...which was also from Fay.

The story is about a guy running for mayor. When he (Fay) makes speeches, they are unintelligible gibberish but eventually he gets the upper hand by bugging the mayor's office and getting the dirt. There's more to the story than that...but none of it really seemed interesting--especially the attempt at pathos at the end. This didn't work because the audience wasn't connected to Fay's character. He wasn't necessarily that nice a guy and his sad ending just didn't resonate.

Overall, a film that is watchable but nothing more. It was very low energy and curiously uninvolving. I think a score of 4 is fair.
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Mayor today, Saint tomorrow?
mark.waltz11 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is a totally unbelievable political comedy/drama with Frank Fay as a hotel elevator operator well known by everybody around who becomes town hero by aiding aging mayor Berton Churchill against the big political machine with a ruthless businessman (Hale Hamilton) out to stop Fay with the help of thug Nat Pendleton. He aids the inventor of a phonograph machine and finds out they both love the same girl. Fay has an absurd confrontation scene with Hamilton where all of a sudden he starts acting like a big city tough guy that totally goes out of character. Pendleton adds a few laughs as the typical dumb lug who just wants one sock at Fay. Instead of his fist meeting Fay's face, it meets an elevator door in one scene instead.

Then married to rising star Barbara Stanwyck, Fay was seeing his career hit the skids, and weak screenplays like this helped do him in, proving the rumors that the original story of "A Star is Born" (titled "What Price Hollywood?") was based on their relationship. This far fetched script has Fay striving to be younger than he really was, and he looks even sillier than Franklin Pangborn does in his ridiculous looking toupee. The fact that thus gives me impression that Day is the one who will end up running for mayor makes it completely deceptive. As Stanwyck said about Fay when asked if she would see him in his big comeback of "Harvey" on Broadway, "I've seen all the invisible rabbits of his that I want to see."
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