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The Show-Off (1934)

Approved | | Comedy | 9 March 1934 (USA)
Aubrey cons Amy into thinking he's a railroad bigwig. After they marry Aubrey overspends in setting up their home. When their financial situation gets dire they go back to her parents house... See full summary »

Director:

Charles Reisner (as Charles F. Reisner)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Spencer Tracy ... J. Aubrey Piper
Madge Evans ... Amy Fisher Piper
Henry Wadsworth ... Joe Fisher
Lois Wilson ... Clara Harling
Grant Mitchell ... Mr. 'Pa' Fisher
Clara Blandick ... Mrs. 'Ma' Fisher
Alan Edwards ... Frank Harling
Claude Gillingwater ... J.B. Preston
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Storyline

Aubrey cons Amy into thinking he's a railroad bigwig. After they marry Aubrey overspends in setting up their home. When their financial situation gets dire they go back to her parents house until Aubrey changes his ways and they can get on stable footing. When he loses his job he takes one wearing a sandwich board. After he helps Joe sell his patent for a good price and an old railroad deal comes through, he's back on top and ready to live high on the hog again. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HE WAS THE "TALK" OF THE TOWN - He knew everything --- except when to shut up!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 March 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Conta Prosa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The part of J. Aubrey Piper was originally to be played by Lee Tracy, but his contract was terminated by MGM when, during the production in Mexico of Viva Villa! (1934), he got drunk, urinated off a balcony onto a passing patrol of Mexican soldiers (who almost shot him) and was deported from Mexico. Spencer Tracy got the part with the help of Frank Morgan, and afterwards signed a long-term contract with MGM. See more »

Goofs

The contract that Aubrey signs, with such extraordinary consequences, would not be binding because he had been given no authority by the company to make it. See more »

Connections

Version of The Show-Off (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Days Are Here Again
(uncredited)
Written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen
Whistled by Spencer Tracy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shows Spencer Tracy's range as an actor
3 July 2010 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

This is the kind of role Spencer Tracy played before he became a symbol for honesty and respectability in the movies. He does a great job, but it's strange to see him be the object of a morality tale - albeit a comic one - about how not to succeed in life.

J. Aubrey Piper (Spencer Tracy) is an office clerk working for a railroad and out on an excursion boat when a man falls overboard. Piper jumps in and saves the man, winning the attention and interest of Amy Fisher (Madge Evans), the daughter in a respectable middle-class family. Aubrey is a bag of wind like the biggest hurricane you've ever seen, but Amy oddly seems blinded to all of this blustering. She doesn't seem to notice that although Aubrey always takes her out in the most fashionable of cars that it's always a different one every time - a "demonstration model". This was a custom years ago of letting people with no credit history drive new expensive cars around to see if they liked them enough to buy them. The problem is, the rest of Amy's family knows exactly what Aubrey is and they cringe every time he comes around, always with a big appetite and a tale overblowing his own importance.

Amy and Aubrey get married, and soon the problems begin. Amy's problem is not suddenly discovering that her husband is a liar, because he really isn't. He doesn't lie about his occupation or income, he just blows out of proportion his own importance in every event that occurs. Thus the death of their marriage is slow suffocation from a thousand disappointments - things bought on credit when Amy thought they were paid for, bills unpaid, wage attachments - all because Aubrey really believes his ship is about to come in although he has no plan as to how and why.

This one ends in a way that you wouldn't expect for an MGM movie in the 1930's that seems to be teaching a tale about the need for humility and realism, and maybe that was because in 1934 the last things Americans needed in the Great Depression was humility and realism in what is supposed to be a comedy.

I'd recommend this one as an opportunity to see Spencer Tracy early in his career in a very likable little film. In the hands of a lesser actor you'd probably just want to strangle Piper, but Tracy gives even this shallow fellow enough depth that you'll likely feel at least a little sympathy for him at points. I know I did.


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