Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE FULLER BRUSH MAN

Red Skelton succumbs to the charms of Adele Jergens
THE FULLER BRUSH MAN (1948). Director: S. Sylvan Simon.

Red Jones (Red Skelton), who has trouble holding on to a job, to put it mildly, is told by his girlfriend Ann (Janet Blair) that if he doesn't make good at something they're through. He decides to try for a job at the Fuller Brush company where Ann works, but a romantic rival, Mr. Wallick (Don McGuire), who's a top salesman, makes it his business to screw up Red's chances at every turn. Things take a turn for the worse when Red becomes the suspect in the mysterious murder of Commissioner Trist (Nicholas Joy), who fired him from his last assignment. Skelton is in top form in one of his funniest movies, with an inventive script by Frank Tashlin [and Devery Freeman] that is full of so many great sight-gags that the movie is at times a live-action cartoon [typical of Tashlin's work]. A bit in a garden involving bug spray, pruning shears, and legs in weird positions is nearly classic, as is a hilarious sequence wherein Red tries to sell a shower brush to the man-hungry starlet Miss Sharmley (Adele Jergens), who's "brushed off more men than the porter at the Waldorf." In this brief bit sexy Jergens almost walks off with the movie, but there are also very good performances from the rest of the cast, which includes Hillary Brooke as Trist's wife, Sara Franzen as his protege, and Arthur Space as a police lieutenant. Don McGuire scores as the wolfish cad Wallick and Blair is attractive and capable as Skelton's girl.The ending in a factory is also full of clever physical action, all well-handled by director Simon and a variety of stunt people. Verna Felton and Jimmy Hunt [Invaders from Mars] have a funny scene wherein Red tries to sell the former one of his brushes and her not-so-adorable grandson interferes.

Verdict: One of Skelton's best! ***. 


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