Million Dollar Legs


1h 4m 1932
Million Dollar Legs

Brief Synopsis

A small country decides to enter the Olympic Games to raise money for their soon to be bankrupt home.

Film Details

Also Known As
On Your Mark
Genre
Comedy
Sports
Release Date
Jul 8, 1932
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Publix Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Publix Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

In debt-ridden Klopstokia, a faraway country in which all men are named George and all women Angela, and the chief exports, imports and inhabitants are goats and nuts, the President, who has more physical strength than mental agility, struggles to prevent a coup d'├ętat by his cabinet, which would be accomplished if one of them beats him in arm wrestling. The President's daughter Angela falls in love with American brush salesman Migg Tweeney, who advises the President to endow his country in the Los Angeles Olympic Games because his millionaire boss, Mr. Baldwin, has always loved athletics and wants to endow the winning team. The Cabinet, meanwhile, headed by the Secretary of the Treasury, meets secretly to hire Mata Machree, whom no man can resist, to create dissension among the men of the Klopstokian Olympic team. On the boat to America, Mata succeeds in making each athlete believe she loves only him. The team is temporarily diverted when their train is commandeered by Angela's mischievous little brother Willie and arrives in San Francisco, instead of Los Angeles, but, with Migg's help, the Klopstokians soon finds their way to the Olympics. However, the night before the games are to begin, when Mata shows up for her respective rendezvous with the team members, they realize that they are all in love with her and start a huge brawl. The next day, they are too injured and depressed to fight until Angela, who possesses the physical prowess typical of her countrymen, enters the high diving contest with Mata and holds her under water until she confesses her part in the cabinet conspiracy. The re-invigorated men then go on to win their events. In the final weight lifting competition, the President bests his rival, the Secretary of the Treasury, when Miggs steps on his sore foot to goad him into throwing 1,000 pounds, thus making him the winner of medals in both weight lifting and the shot-put. With Klopstokia now the champion Olympic team, Miggs introduces the President to Baldwin, who happily throws the President, making the President delighted to meet his match and save his country.

Film Details

Also Known As
On Your Mark
Genre
Comedy
Sports
Release Date
Jul 8, 1932
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Publix Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Publix Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

Million Dollar Legs (1932)


By l932, W. C. Fields' career was coming to a crossroads of sorts. Under contract to Mack Sennett's studios, Fields was approached by Paramount with a better offer and completed two films for the studio before any of his shorts with Sennett were made. He went on to complete the four shorts ("The Dentist", "The Fatal Glass of Beer", The Pharmacist" and "The Barber Shop") with Sennett though, and the success of those films convinced Paramount to give Fields the latitude he wanted and a freer hand in his features. Moreover, his experience at Sennett gave the old-time comedian a chance to work on his technique and become more comfortable with the microphone.

Still, in l932 Paramount felt that Fields could not carry a feature length film on his own, and routinely put him in supporting roles. His first feature for Paramount was Million Dollar Legs (1932); though the film was clearly a vehicle for comedian Jack Oakie, Fields stole many a scene as the President of Klopstokia in this absurdist comedy.

Klopstokia is a country where the natives all have impossible athletic prowess; the Presidency itself is decided by arm-wrestling contests (where Fields dominates all challengers). Given their inherent strength and endurance, the government decides to enter Klopstokians in the l932 Olympic games, where all sorts of political intrigue and zany hijinks ensue. At a scant 62 minutes, the movie's plot is little more than a skeleton on which to drape all sorts of sight gags, physical comedy and sharp dialogue. Its story and surrealist settings anticipate the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup (1933) by a year or so, replete with chases, slapstick, political satire and oblique references to President Hoover's Depression-era America.

Wisely, director Cline brought in a few old hands from Sennett's studio, such as Ben Turpin, Vernon Dent and Andy Clyde, raising the physical-comedy ante considerably. Cline was confounded, though, by Fields' insistence on ad-libbing and refusal to learn his lines. Fields' stage experience gave him a perfect sense of timing and of how to milk a gag for the maximum amount of laughs; the idea of sticking to a script was anathema to him. After much feuding, the two came to terms with each other and later became good friends; in later films, Cline would be called in when other directors found Fields and his style impossible to deal with. The lovely Susan Fleming, incidentally, was later to become Mrs. Harpo Marx.

Not surprisingly, the film ran afoul of Will Hays' Production Code, partly due to its seemingly risque title and partly because of several specific lines and scenarios (such as Lyda Roberti's performance as the pseudo-Garbo temptress Mata Machree). Hays' objections notwithstanding, Million Dollar Legs went on to be one of Fields' funniest sound films, though it remained relatively obscure for years. To quote Simon Louvish' biography Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W.C. Fields, it was a picture where " 'anything can happen and probably will', in which anarchy triumphed over bureaucracy, the leash was slipped and the dogs of comedy relieved themselves all over the astonished lot".

Producer: Herman J. Mankiewicz
Director: Edward F. Cline
Screenplay: Nicholas T. Barrows, Ben Hecht (uncredited), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (story), Henry Myers
Cinematography: Arthur L. Todd
Original Music: John Leipold (uncredited)
Principal Cast: Jack Oakie (Migg Tweeny), W.C. Fields (The President), Andy Clyde (The Major-Domo), Lyda Roberti (Mata Machree), Susan Fleming (Angela), Ben Turpin (Mysterious Man), Hugh Herbert (Secretary of the Treasury), Dickie Moore (Willie).
BW-64m.

by Jerry Renshaw

Million Dollar Legs (1932)

Million Dollar Legs (1932)

By l932, W. C. Fields' career was coming to a crossroads of sorts. Under contract to Mack Sennett's studios, Fields was approached by Paramount with a better offer and completed two films for the studio before any of his shorts with Sennett were made. He went on to complete the four shorts ("The Dentist", "The Fatal Glass of Beer", The Pharmacist" and "The Barber Shop") with Sennett though, and the success of those films convinced Paramount to give Fields the latitude he wanted and a freer hand in his features. Moreover, his experience at Sennett gave the old-time comedian a chance to work on his technique and become more comfortable with the microphone. Still, in l932 Paramount felt that Fields could not carry a feature length film on his own, and routinely put him in supporting roles. His first feature for Paramount was Million Dollar Legs (1932); though the film was clearly a vehicle for comedian Jack Oakie, Fields stole many a scene as the President of Klopstokia in this absurdist comedy. Klopstokia is a country where the natives all have impossible athletic prowess; the Presidency itself is decided by arm-wrestling contests (where Fields dominates all challengers). Given their inherent strength and endurance, the government decides to enter Klopstokians in the l932 Olympic games, where all sorts of political intrigue and zany hijinks ensue. At a scant 62 minutes, the movie's plot is little more than a skeleton on which to drape all sorts of sight gags, physical comedy and sharp dialogue. Its story and surrealist settings anticipate the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup (1933) by a year or so, replete with chases, slapstick, political satire and oblique references to President Hoover's Depression-era America. Wisely, director Cline brought in a few old hands from Sennett's studio, such as Ben Turpin, Vernon Dent and Andy Clyde, raising the physical-comedy ante considerably. Cline was confounded, though, by Fields' insistence on ad-libbing and refusal to learn his lines. Fields' stage experience gave him a perfect sense of timing and of how to milk a gag for the maximum amount of laughs; the idea of sticking to a script was anathema to him. After much feuding, the two came to terms with each other and later became good friends; in later films, Cline would be called in when other directors found Fields and his style impossible to deal with. The lovely Susan Fleming, incidentally, was later to become Mrs. Harpo Marx. Not surprisingly, the film ran afoul of Will Hays' Production Code, partly due to its seemingly risque title and partly because of several specific lines and scenarios (such as Lyda Roberti's performance as the pseudo-Garbo temptress Mata Machree). Hays' objections notwithstanding, Million Dollar Legs went on to be one of Fields' funniest sound films, though it remained relatively obscure for years. To quote Simon Louvish' biography Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W.C. Fields, it was a picture where " 'anything can happen and probably will', in which anarchy triumphed over bureaucracy, the leash was slipped and the dogs of comedy relieved themselves all over the astonished lot". Producer: Herman J. Mankiewicz Director: Edward F. Cline Screenplay: Nicholas T. Barrows, Ben Hecht (uncredited), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (story), Henry Myers Cinematography: Arthur L. Todd Original Music: John Leipold (uncredited) Principal Cast: Jack Oakie (Migg Tweeny), W.C. Fields (The President), Andy Clyde (The Major-Domo), Lyda Roberti (Mata Machree), Susan Fleming (Angela), Ben Turpin (Mysterious Man), Hugh Herbert (Secretary of the Treasury), Dickie Moore (Willie). BW-64m. by Jerry Renshaw

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title for the film was On Your Mark, the title of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's original story. A news item in Hollywood Reporter on August 27, 1936 stated that the script to this film was under glass in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, and was labelled: "This is a perfect script." Following the opening credits, a title card reads "Kloptokia..a far away country," after which two lines appear below the statement reading "Chief exports...Goats and Nuts//Chief Imports...Goats and Nuts." Portions of the film incorporated newsreel footage of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during 1932 Olympics with a few scenes of the actors shot in and around the stadium.
       Film Daily reported on August 23, 1932 that the film was being screened in Japan as Million Dollar Feet, according to notices in The Gencho Report, a Japanese trade daily. The first script of the film in the Paramount Script Collection at the AMPAS Library listed Herman J. Mankiewicz as associate producer and a modern source credits him as supervisor. Early scripts describe the character of Mata Machree as a "female heavy-burlesque of Greta Garbo."
       The 1939 film Million Dollar Legs (see below), which starred Betty Grable, was not a remake of the 1932 film. Modern sources list the following additional cast members: Ernie Adams (Contestant), Charlie Hall, Bobby Dunn and Billy Engle (Klopstokian athletes), Eddie Dunn (Coachman), Herbert Evans (Butler), Lew Kelly (Conductor), Eddie Baker and (Train official), Don Wilson (Stationmaster) and Tyler Brooke (Olympics announcer).