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

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Eddie Albert and Lucille Ball
THE FULLER BRUSH GIRL (1950). Director: Lloyd Bacon. Written by Frank Tashlin.

Sally Elliott (Lucille Ball) is engaged to co-worker Humphrey Briggs (Eddie Albert), and the two have their eye on a home they can't afford. After a spectacular accident at work involving an exploding switchboard, Sally is fired and tries her hand at selling cosmetics as a Fuller Brush girl (she hasn't actually got the job yet, but is kind of "auditioning"). She and Humphrey wind up in the midst of a murder mystery, on the run both from police and from the real killer, winding up on a ship at sea with a bomb aboard! Red Skelton's The Fuller Brush Man was a success, so it was only natural for there to be a Fuller Brush Girl, and Lucy was an inspired choice as star, as she's wonderful in this. Franklin Tashlin's funny script (he also co-wrote Fuller Brush Man), has lots of thrills and laughs, and is full of his trademark inventive "cartoon-style" comedy, such as a great scene when Lucy, wearing several round life preservers, goes rapidly rolling around the deck of the ship and almost goes kerplunk into the ocean. Albert [On Your Toes] provides fine support for Lucy, and there are good performances from Jerome Cowan [Have Rocket, Will Travel] as her boss; Lee Patrick as his wife; Gail Robbins as dancer Ruby Rawlings; Arthur Space as Inspector Rogers; and Jeff Donnell [Night Editor] as Sally's friend, Jane. Red Skelton has a cameo playing himself and a potential customer -- he sells some items to Lucy instead of the other way around! There's a lot of clever stuff in this and the two parrots on the ship (voiced by Mel Blanc) are a scream.

Verdict: Cute picture with lots of laughs and a resplendent Lucy! ***.


Neil A Russell said...

One of those odd films that I've never been able to catch. Seems like I only think of it when someone brings it up, which is pretty rare, or when "Miss Grant Takes Richmond" gets an airing and I think of this movie as well.
I'm going to have to seek it out, now mostly based on your positive recommendation. I'd almost relegated it to the status I have for "It's in the Bag" with Fred Allen, which I would only recommend to Jack Benny completists.
I think I would have credited Jerome Cowan with "Maltese Falcon" even if he only was in it for a minute instead of "Have Rocket". Sorry, couldn't resist that one.

angelman66 said...

I love this one too--Lucille had really perfected her "Lucy" persona by this film (and in Miss Grant Takes Richmond, mentioned by Neil above), that took her from the radio hit My Favorite Husband to I Love Lucy.

Has been a while since I have seen this one, but I have definitely seen it four or five times, and look forward to viewing #6 after this review!

William said...

Neil, you'll enjoy "Fuller Brush Girl" if you like the kind of cartoon comedy that Frank Tashlin specialized in, and of course if you're a Lucy fan. If not ... I've seen "Maltese Falcon" more than once but I don't think I've reviewed it on this blog yet, hence the link to definitely-not-a-classic "Have Rocket." I tend to link to more obscure movies anyway, ha!

Chris, I'm glad you enjoyed this one, too. I didn't have particularly good memories about it when i first saw it on TV as a kid, probably because with all the commercials and sequences dropped to make room for them it didn't come off as well as it does when you see the whole thing without interruption. Thank goodness we've got DVDs and not those TV versions that are all chopped up!

Neil A Russell said...

I was just messing with you on that one, but wait, you haven't reviewed "Falcon"?

He also found his way into those "Blondie" movies too, so Mr Cowan wasn't trapped in any one genre it seems.

I'll definitely be watching out for this one next time it comes around on Turner Classics.

William said...

Yeah, check it out if it comes on TCM, you may get a kick out of it.

Cowan was an excellent actor at home, as you say, in virtually every genre.