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The heir to a fortune hidden in five chairs unwittingly sells them.
After changing the terms of his will, bequeathing all of his fortune to his long-lost grandnephew, millionaire Frederick Trumble slips a packet of money inside a chair seat. He is then shot and killed by an unseen assailant. When Trumble's grandnephew, flea circus operator Fred F. Floogle, learns that he is Trumble's heir, he and his family move into the same fancy hotel at which his daughter Marion's fiancé, Perry Parker, lives. They then go on a spending spree, buying expensive items on credit. Feeling cocky, Floogle demands that Marion stop seeing Perry, because Parker, Sr., the "exterminator king," once insinuated that the Floogles were too lowbrow for Perry. At the reading of the will, however, Floogle and his wife Eve learn from Trumble's lawyer, Jefferson T. Pike, and Trumble's former associates, Arnold and Gardner, that because the eccentric Trumble had squandered his wealth, their inheritance has been reduced to five chairs. Now faced with enormous debts, Eve convinces Floogle to make amends with Parker before their poverty is exposed. Unknown to the Floogles, Parker is an ordinary exterminator, who has been given a free room in the hotel in exchange for his services. While pretending to be rich, Parker demonstrates Perry's latest invention, a better mouse trap, and talks Floogle into agreeing to co-invest $25,000 in its development. Later, Trumble's chairs arrive at the Floogles' apartment, and Floogle's young son Homer, a genius with a photographic memory, offers to sell them at an antique store. Moments later, police detective Sully informs Floogle that Trumble's death, which had been made to look like a suicide, has now been ruled a murder and that he is the prime suspect. A bank official then gives Floogle a phonograph record entrusted to him by Trumble. Floogle is stunned to hear Trumble's voice, advising him that he had been swindled, but had placed his remaining $350,000 in one of the five chairs. Floogle immediately telephones the antique shop, but learns that all five chairs already have been sold. Unaware that Pike, Arnold and Gardner are the swindlers and are spying on him, Floogle demands that Finley, the dealer, make a list of the chairs's buyers. As Finley is turning the list over to Homer, however, the shop is set on fire by Pike. Homer is rescued, and although he managed to read the list before it was destroyed, the shock of the fire has caused him to forget all but one name. The one buyer, Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum, however, informs Floogle that she just sold the chair to Jack Benny. Posing as the president of the Nutley, New Jersey Jack Benny fan club, Floogle is invited into Benny's home and, after some haggling, convinces the star to rent him the chair. Floogle quickly discovers that the chair is empty and is nearly run down by thugs in Pike's employ. Later, Floogle and Eve take Homer to a psychiatrist, Dr. Greengrass, who they hope will be able to jog the boy's memory. While waiting for Homer, Floogle and Eve go to a nearby movie theater, where they spot another one of Trumble's chairs. Floogle and Eve trick their way out of the theater with the chair, but once again, find it empty. After the neurotic quack Greengrass moves in with the Floogles, Homer remembers another name--Phil's Naughty Nineties Café. Unable to enter the crowded café as a customer, Floogle poses as a bass singer, so that he can join the establishment's barbershop quartet. While singing with the group, which features "has-been" celebrities Don Ameche, Victor Moore and Rudy Vallee, Floogle sees two Trumble chairs in the audience, but in his zeal to get them, he instigates a brawl. The fight ends when a shot rings out, and Gardner, who was seated with Pike and Arnold, is found dead. As Sully finds Floogle next to the body, he is arrested for murder. Later, Floogle, whose lost fortune has been exposed, is visited in jail by Pike and finally deduces that the lawyer is the murdering swindler. Pike then arranges bail for Floogle, and Homer suddenly remembers the last name--Bill Bendix, the vitamin-popping leader of a gang of crooks. Watched by Sully, Pike, Arnold and Homer, Floogle breaks into Bendix' den and finds the chair, but has to hide under Bendix' desk when his cohorts enter. The thugs discuss their plot to murder Bendix by sending an electric shock through wires planted in the Trumble chair, which they are presenting to him as a birthday gift. While hiding, Floogle finds the money in the chair, but when the thugs shock then shoot Bendix, Floogle's noisy, terrified shaking gives him away. The thugs force Floogle to carry Bendix' body to the river, but on the way there, Bendix awakens, having only been stunned because he was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Just as Bendix admits to Floogle that he hates being a gangster, Arnold sneaks up on Floogle and attacks him. Homer dashes up and knocks out Arnold, and later, Bendix offers to torture Arnold and Pike into confessing. After Bendix gives them both "hot feet," Arnold admits in writing that he killed Gardner, while Pike confesses that he killed Trumble. Homer then reveals to Bendix that his chair is stuffed with money, and although he ends up losing most of his inheritance, Floogle is given enough money to pay his debts and bankroll his daughter's lavish wedding.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1945||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Manhattan Productions, Inc.|
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Good to watch once but no classic
As a huge fan of Fred Allen's classic radio shows, I was somewhat disappointed in this film. Fred's strength on radio was always his sharp...
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Having seen it decades ago, I purchased this a few years ago on VHS and love it. The Jack Benny segment is worth the entire film. I did not grow up...