Night and Day: Wednesday, November 12, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Toto and the Wienie King

The famed film critic Pauline Kael once wrote, “If you’ve never seen one of Preston Sturges’ comedies, you may not quite know what hit you.” Indeed, his movies’ manic energy and torrents of brilliant verbal wit are intoxicating, disorienting stuff. Sullivan’s Travels is his most famous movie, The Lady Eve his sexiest, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek his most anarchic, and Hail the Conquering Hero may be his greatest, but Night & Day figures his 1942 entry The Palm Beach Story is his funniest.

It stars Claudette Colbert as Gerry, a woman who makes the hard-headed decision to leave her cash-strapped inventor husband Tom (Joel McCrea — and that’s right, the couple’s names are Tom and Gerry) and marry a rich man so she can fund Tom’s work. She sets off for Florida for a quickie divorce, with Tom chasing her and trying to dissuade her from going through with it. One of the funniest running jokes is the way Gerry uses nothing but her charm to get various men to give her the free stuff she needs for her trip, starting with a tiny old man (John Dudley) in a three-piece suit and a huge cowboy hat, who introduces himself, “I’m the Wienie King! I invented the Texas wienie! Lay off ’em, you’ll live longer!” The misadventures continue with a drunken gun-crazed hunting club, a non-English-speaking gigolo named Toto, and a fussy millionaire (1920s singing star Rudy Vallee, who found a second career playing guys like these), and it all ends with one of the most outrageous plot twists in movie history. After 61 years, this film is still a shot of pure laughing gas.

The Palm Beach Story screens at 7pm Thu in Rm 164S, J.M. Moudy Bldg, 2800 S University Dr, FW. Admission is free. Call 817-257-7630.


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