The Cinema Museum, London

Kennington Talkies Presents International House (1933) and It’s a Gift (1934)

Thu 1 Oct 2015 @ 19:30 · Events

International HouseInternational House (1933) 68 mins

Director: Edward Sutherland.
Screenplay: Francis Martin and Walter DeLeon, from a story by Louis E. Heifetz and Neil Brant.
Cast: W.C. Fields, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Rudy Vallee.

The film is an example of the anarchic comedy cycle (epitomized by the Marx Brothers) that flourished during the Depression. The plot is perhaps better described as a situation: a bidding war takes place in a cosmopolitan Chinese hotel for a science-fiction-looking television device. Along the way, beer-quaffing W.C. Fields arrives – on the roof – in his autogyro, then meets scandalous actress and socialite Peggy Hopkins Joyce.

Due menace is provided by Bela Lugosi as Peggy’s husband, a murderous Russian general. Cab Calloway sings the marijuana-themed Reefer Man, Fields delivers a notorious censor-baiting punchline involving a synonym for “cat”, while Gracie Allen steals the show with her non sequiturs as she plays nurse to doctor George Burns.

It’s a GiftIt’s a Gift (1934) 68 mins

Director: Norman Z. McLeod.
Screenplay: Jack Cunningham (from a play by J.P. McEvoy and [uncredited] W.C. Fields), based on a story by Charles Bogle (W.C. Fields).
Cast: W.C. Fields, Baby LeRoy, Kathleen Howard, Jean Rouverol.

Harold Bissonette (W.C. Fields), the owner of a general store, is put-upon by family and customers alike. Using an inheritance to buy an orange ranch by mail order, he drives off with his family to California.

Considered one of Fields’ best films, It’s a Gift is a superior remake of one of his silent features, It’s the Old Army Game (1926), itself based on a 1925 stage play called The Comic Supplement. In common with many comedians, Fields would rework and polish material over decades. Variants on his store-keeper routine can also be found in his short film The Pharmacist and in some of his surviving radio performances.

Doors open at 18.30 for a 19.30 start.

Refreshments will be available in our licenced cafe/bar.


Tickets £6.

Advance tickets may be purchased from Billetto, or direct from the Museum by calling 020 7840 2200 in office hours.