|Jack Benny and Fred Allen in “It’s in the Bag!”|
Time for a movie review, and here’s a great film I discovered a few weeks ago, starring Fred Allen called “It’s in the Bag!”. For those of you who don’t know who Fred Allen was, he was a very popular comedian on the radio in the 40’s and 50’s. Like many other radio comedians in the 50’s, he took his show to television. He didn’t have the kind of career in feature films that Jack Benny did, and when “It’s in the Bag!” came out it unfortunately wasn’t very successful. Which is a shame really, because it is a very funny film. Benny tried to help Fred out by making a cameo appearance in possibly the films best and funniest moment. There was a joke between Jack Benny and Fred Allen that the two of them had this ongoing rivalry and distain for each other on their shows. Of course, it was all pretend, and the two of them would always appear on each others shows to make jokes at the expense of the other.
The story the film was based on was later remade by Mel Brooks called “The Twelve Chairs”, and the basic story is Fred Floogle inherits $12 million from a wealthy old relative is murdered. Of course, once Fred finds out about the inheritance, all that money goes to his head, but when the millionaires fortune becomes dissipated, Fred is left with 5 chairs that he winds up selling off. What he didn’t know was that the millionaire stuffed one of the chairs with hundreds of thousands of dollars right before he died, and after Fred finds this out, he goes on a search through out the city to find out who bought the chairs and get the fortune. And of course, one of those people who bought a chair was Jack Benny!
But aside from Benny, there’s just an enormous list of guest stars and supporting players, including Don Ameche, William Bendix (radio’s Riley on Life of Riley), Rudy Valee who all play themselves. And then the incredible list of supporting actors including Jerry Colonna (animation fans know him as The March Hare in Alice in Wonderland), John Carradine, and Robert Benchley. It’s really fun watching all these great actors get into it. I enjoyed Dickie Tylers performance as Homer Floogle, Fred’s 12 year old wannabe psychiatrist son. I’d say the only issue was the kid playing the part seemed to have a little trouble pulling off an accent and in some of his scenes its a little hard to understand him.
But if you’ve never seen or heard and Fred Allan or Jack Benny shows, by all means watch some before you watch this film! Especially in the scene with Benny and Allen, which is so much funnier if you’ve actually watched their shows and know about their rivalry. This film is a hidden gem, and is worth your time just to see so many great actors at work. “It’s in the Bag!” is available on Netflix instant streaming. Check it out!
|Fred Allen with the great John Carradine|