AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Show-Off
Alternate Title: Carnation Charlie
Director: Harry Beaumont (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1946
Production Date:   13 Feb--late Mar 1946; retakes 11 Jun--14 Jun 1946
Duration (in mins):   83-84
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Red Skelton (Aubrey Piper)  
    Marilyn Maxwell (Amy [Fisher Piper])  
    Marjorie Main (Mrs. Fisher)  
    Virginia O'Brien (Hortense)  
    Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (Eddie)  
    George Cleveland (Pop Fisher)  
    Leon Ames (Frank Harlin)  
    Marshall Thompson (Joe Fisher)  
    Jacqueline White (Clara Harlin)  
    Wilson Wood (Horace Adems)  
    Lila Leeds (Flo)  
    Emory Parnell (Appelton)  
    Grady Sutton (Mr. Hotchkiss)  
    Charles Lane (Quizmaster)  
    Frank Orth (Kopec)  
    Francis Pierlot (Judge Ederman)  
    Russell Hicks (Thorbison)  
    Lee Tung Foo (Chinese waiter)  
    Luke Chan (Chinese boss)  
    Al Hill (Driver)  
    Alice Wallace (Secretary)  
    Ida Moore (Mrs. Ascot)  
    John Tyers (Producer)  
    Kitty Murray (Rochester's girl friend)  
    Robert Williams (Officer)  
    Pat McVey (Officer)  
    Robert Emmet O'Connor (Motorman)  
    Byron Foulger (Jenkins)  
    Howard Mitchell (Court attendant)  
    Tim Hawkins (Little boy)  
    Billy Newell (Clerk)  
    Jean Wong (Chinese cashier)  
    Carol Nugent (Little girl)  
    Bert Davidson (Sharper)  
    Paul Barrett (Sailor)  
    Harold Piper (Radio technician)  
    William Roberts (Radio technician)  
    Wheaton Chambers    
    Jody Gilbert    

Summary: Amy Fisher is anxious about a blind date arranged by her friend Hortense's fiancĂ©, Horace Adems. Horace has fixed Amy up with his colleague, Aubrey Piper, a pipe dreamer who spins tall tales about his mundane life. At dinner, Aubrey, who is really a lowly clerk at a freight office, brags to Amy that he is the manager of his department and tries to impress her with stories about his extensive travels, although he has never been out of Philadelphia. At the end of the evening, Aubrey borrows money from Horace and then pretends to pay the entire bill himself. Smitten by the smooth-talking Aubrey, Amy invites him to dinner at her parents' house, and there he meets Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, her brother Joe, an amateur inventor, and her sister Clara Harlin and her husband Frank, a successful businessman. After boasting about his accomplishments the entire evening, Aubrey tries to demonstrate his vast knowledge of chemistry and sets Joe's lab on fire, causing Mrs. Fisher to dub Aubrey the "big wind." When Mrs. Fisher discovers that Aubrey is only a clerk, her suspicions about his being a phony are confirmed. Pop Fisher is so repulsed by the loquacious Aubrey that he turns off his hearing aid whenever Aubrey enters the house. Although Amy knows that her family finds Aubrey repugnant, she recognizes his devotion to her and marries him anyway. Aubrey's reckless expenditures throw the newlyweds into debt, and when he buys a large dog to protect his wife, his landlord evicts the couple and their canine. As Horace guaranteed Aubrey's purchase of Amy's engagement ring, the jeweler threatens repossession when Aubrey fails to make his payments. To raise money, Aubrey appears on a radio show contest but loses all his winnings when he insults the show's sponsor. Soon after, Joe makes the mistake of telling Aubrey that he has been offered $30,000 by the Appleton paint company for his rust prevention formula. On Saturday, Horace picks Aubrey up in his new car to drive him to the jeweler to make restitution. Along the way, Aubrey, who has no driver's license, insists on taking the wheel and promptly causes a multi-car accident in which a policeman is injured. Aubrey is arrested for reckless driving, and Frank posts his bail. After their landlord moves their belongings into the street, Aubrey, Amy and their dog move in with the Fishers. Throughout Aubrey's tribulations, Amy never loses faith in her husband, however. Thinking that he is helping Joe, Aubrey visits Appleton and, representing himself as Joe's business manager, demands $100,000 for the formula, causing a furious Appleton to cancel the deal. Later, when he is brought to trial for his car accident, Aubrey insults the judge and pontificates on traffic conditions, prompting the judge to fine him $1,000. Mrs. Fisher is disgusted by Aubrey's antics, but Clara defends Aubrey and Amy's love and confides that she has a loveless marriage. Aubrey's troubles continue to mount when Horace presents him a bill for his car repair. Upon learning that Frank has paid Aubrey's fine, Mrs. Fisher, unable to contain herself any longer, tells Aubrey off. Humbled, Aubrey is about to admit that he bungled Joe's business deal when Appleton comes to the house and offers Joe $75,000 plus 25% of the profits. Declaring that Aubrey provided him with the inspiration for the formula, Joe insists that he accept a sixth of his share, and all ends happily when Amy announces she is pregnant. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Harry Beaumont (Dir)
  Bert Spurlin (Asst dir)
Producer: Albert Lewis (Prod)
Writer: George Wells (Scr)
Photography: Robert Planck (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Preston Ames (Art dir)
Film Editor: Douglass Biggs (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Ralph S. Hurst (Assoc)
Costumes: Irene (Cost supv)
  Howard Shoup (Assoc)
Music: David Snell (Mus score)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play The Show-Off by George Kelly (New York, 5 Feb 1924).
Authors: George Kelly

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 6/8/1946 dd/mm/yyyy LP494 Yes

PCA NO: 11625
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Braggarts
  Bumblers
  Clerks
  Debt
  Family life
  Inventors
 
Subjects (Minor): Automobile accidents
  Blind dates
  Businessmen
  Contests
  Dogs
  Eviction
  In-laws
  Judges
  Landlords
  Marriage
  Philadelphia (PA)
  Radio broadcasting
  Rings
  Trials

Note: The working title of this film was Carnation Charlie . The film opens with the image of a statue of William Penn overlooking the city of Philadelphia. A voice-over narrator proclaims "This is the city of Philadelphia, guarded day and night by the kindly old William Penn, founder and father of the great metropolis. With fond pride he gazes down at his foster children, now 2,000,000 strong. A happy and industrious family, brothers and sisters in the city of brotherly love." The camera then pans down to street level. George Kelly directed the initial Broadway run of his play, which starred Louis John Bartels and Helen Lowell. Kelly's play was first filmed by Paramount in 1926 as The Show Off , with Malcolm St. Clair directing and Ford Sterling and Lois Wilson starring. Paramount filmed the play again in 1930, as Men Are Like That , with Frank Tuttle directing and Hal Skelly and Doris Hill starring (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.5025 and F2.3552). In 1934, M-G-M filmed a version of the play directed by Charles F. Riesner and starring Spencer Tracy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4047). The CBS television network aired a version of the play on its Best of Broadway series on 2 Feb 1955. The CBS television comedy was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Jackie Gleason and Thelma Ritter. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   17 Aug 1946.   
Daily Variety   15 Feb 46   p. 15.
Daily Variety   22 Mar 46   p. 15
Daily Variety   13 Aug 46   p. 3.
Film Daily   14 Aug 46   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jun 46   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 46   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Aug 46   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   20 Apr 46   p. 2951.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   17 Aug 46   p. 3149.
New York Times   20 Mar 47   p. 38.
Variety   14 Aug 46   p. 10.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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