Cast & Crew
In the small California town of Caldwell, ineffectual Freddie Frisby is employed as an orange sorter by The Golden Drip Packing Company. Freddie is in love with Judy Sears, daughter of long-time plant foreman Bob Sears, but company owner J. B. Caldwell would like Judy to marry his nephew Ralph, who someday will inherit the business. Bob, too, would like Judy to marry Ralph and strongly disapproves of Freddie, of whom Judy is fonder. One night, Freddie becomes confused while watching for pre-arranged signals from Judy's house, indicating the presence or absence of her father, and is surprised to find Bob at home. Bob runs Freddie off, then wholeheartedly welcomes Ralph. Freddie hides in the trunk of Ralph's car when the couple go to the local drive-in theater. Because Freddie does not know where they are, he mistakenly believes that the mild seduction he hears on the film's soundtrack is being spoken by Ralph to Judy. Freddie rushes to defend her honor and attacks Ralph, then is thrown out for creating a disturbance. The next day, when Judy ignores him, Freddie sends her a note down the orange sorting belt but it falls into Bob's hands, and he fires him. Later, however, Judy tells Freddie that she wants to marry him, and he vows to make good. As he drives away from the plant, Freddie is stopped by theatrical agent Sam Phillips, who tells him that he has been left the entire estate of his uncle, magician Frederick the Great. Sam promises to handle the legalities, and Judy informs her father that Freddie has inherited a fortune. The next evening, at the boardinghouse where Freddie lives, Sam delivers the fortune. After the lawyer has paid all his uncle's debts, Freddie receives $168 plus all the equipment his uncle used in his act. Sam suggests to Freddie that he take over the act and promises to get him bookings which will earn him $200 a week, more than he made in a month sorting oranges. Sam allows him four weeks to get the act in shape and gives him his uncle's instruction manual and his raven Jimmy, who is featured in the show. Later, when Ralph calls for Judy, she refuses to go out with him, but invites him to watch some magic tricks which Freddie is going to try out on Bob. All three tricks fail disastrously, and Ralph leaves minus his tie and Panama hat, which Freddie has destroyed. While Freddie, Judy and Bob wash the supper dishes, Jimmy gets loose and attacks a stuffed pheasant, formerly a family pet, and pulls out many of its feathers. Although Bob still thinks Freddie has inherited a lot of money, he grabs his gun and chases him out of the house. As he drives away, Freddie almost collides with a car containing three gangsters, "Crabs" Freeley, "Pick" Reedley and "Lunk" Boxwell, who have come to town to rob the packing plant of its payroll later in the week. The next day, at a nearby lake, after Judy tells Freddie that she still wants to marry him, Freddie falls into the lake and is pulled out by Judy and Crabs, who is fishing nearby. Later, Freddie arranges to use one of Mr. Caldwell's storage rooms as a rehearsal space, and Judy "borrows" her father's key to the warehouse so that they can get in after hours. While Freddie and Judy, who is now part of the act, rehearse, Pick and Crabs open the nearby office safe and stuff their pockets with cash, while Lunk, their none-too-bright associate, eavesdrops on the rehearsal. When Crabs and Pick find Lunk and reveal themselves to Freddie and Judy, Crabs realizes that they can identify them so they take the couple with them. After the local newspaper reports that $12,000 has been stolen from the plant and that Freddie and Judy are missing, many assume that they have committed the robbery. At the gang's farm hideout, Crabs propositions Judy and, to save Freddie, she agrees to leave with him, and asks Crabs to get rid of Freddie. Crabs misunderstands her and has Freddie write and sign a suicide note confessing to the robbery. Upon discovering that Jimmy has followed them, Freddie and Judy send him back to town with a note detailing their whereabouts. Jimmy delivers it to Judy's father, who does not discover it until several hours have elapsed. Meanwhile, Crabs instructs Pick and Lunk to take Freddie into the nearby woods, kill him and plant the suicide note on him. However, Freddie outwits them and gains possession of their gun. Crabs goes after him with a wrench, but Freddie pushes him down a well. Having been alerted by Bob, the police then arrrive and arrest the crooks. Later, Mr. Caldwell offers Freddie a new job at the plant, but he decides to continue preparations for his magic tour and marries Judy. As they begin their honeymoon, however, Judy is trapped inside the act's mummy case, until a knowing hotel clerk presents Freddie with a fireman's axe.
William "bill" Phillips
Robert B. Williams
The film's working title was Freddie the Great.