Cast & Crew
A. Edward Sutherland
W. C. Fields
In 1883, circus performer Professor Eustace McGargle, a master at legerdemain, and his daughter Poppy arrive in Green Meadows, where Poppy is noticed by Billy Farnsworth, the mayor's son. In town, Eustace purloins as much money out of the locals as he can by peddling the mock panacea "Purple Frog Sarsaparilla," and promoting gambling at his circus concession, until the mayor arrives, whereupon Eustace denounces gambling. Eustace wins the favor of the Countess DePuizzi, formerly local girl Maggi Tubbs, who married a count and inherited the town's wealthy Putnam estate. Although Billy is enamored of the actress Poppy, she is snubbed by Billy's girl friend and his parents as a vagabond. Eustace learns that Katie Putnam ran away to the circus twenty years before and gave birth to a daughter, who, if found, would be the rightful heir to the Putnam fortune. Hoping to win the estate for Poppy, Eustace forges a marriage certificate between himself and Katie and presents it to the mayor. As Billy proposes to Poppy, Sarah Tucker, who has befriended Poppy, informs her that the estate is hers, and a public reception is given in Poppy's honor. After she is insulted by the countess' haughty society friends, however, Poppy breaks her engagement with Billy. Meanwhile, crooked attorney E. G. Whiffen, who had promised to help Eustace win the Putnam fortune, proposes to the countess, assuring her that Poppy is a fraud. As the mayor announces Poppy's inheritance and marriage, unaware that Poppy broke her engagement, Whiffen accuses Eustace of forgery, and he is run out of town. While Poppy hides in Sarah's house, Billy tells Poppy he still wants to marry her. Sarah then finds a miniature of herself in Poppy's wardrobe and remembers exchanging pictures with Katie Putnam and becomes convinced that Poppy is the real heir. As Whiffen and the countess announce their marriage, the mayor awards the estate to Poppy. Eustace then tells Poppy he found her when she was three years old, an orphan of the circus. Planning to resume his circus tour without his "daughter," Eustace steals the house cigars and exits, leaving Poppy to marry Billy.
A. Edward Sutherland
W. C. Fields
Ada Mae Moore
Jessie Virginia Lee
A. E. Freudeman
Paul M. Jones
William C. Mellor
Virginia Van Upp
Ah, what a charming little lean-to!- Professor Eustace McGargle
And if we should ever separate, my little plum, I want to give you one little piece of fatherly advice.- Professor Eustace McGargle
Yes Pop.- Poppy
Never give a sucker an even break.- Professor Eustace McGargle
W.C. Fields broke a vertebra during the filming and was in such pain that he fainted after walking out of camera range after filming the final scene.
On 21 April 1936, Daily Variety reported that W. C. Fields had resumed work in this film the previous day, following a week-long lay off to battle a "severe head and throat cold." On July 1, 1936, Film Daily reported that Fields, who had been ill with pneumonia in a hospital, was pronounced out of danger that week. In a modern biography of his grandfather, however, Ron Fields claims that Fields's "booze-related maladies" proliferated after Poppy was finished and caused him to be hospitalized. New York Times reports Fields knew all the tricks he performed as McGargle and insisted the carnival (not himself) was the hero of the film. According to New York Times, the film's set was built in a hangar the size of a wing in Madison Square Garden. Early Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Frederick Hazlitt Brennan as screenwriter and list Elizabeth Patterson in the cast; however, no additional information has been found concerning their involvement in the film. Tammany Young died of a heart attack on April 26, 1936, near the end of this film's shooting. W. C. Fields and John Payne appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Poppy on March 7, 1938. Actress Helen Holmes was identified in a production still from the film but her appearance in the released film has not been confimed. A modern source lists Johnny Sinclair as W. C. Fields's double. This film is a remake of the 1925 D. W. Griffith-United Artists film Sally of the Sawdust, directed by Griffiths and starring W. C. Fields and Carol Dempster (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4778).