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Here Comes Cookie / Love in Bloom / Six of a Kind

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Chance that all six dice show the same number, "Six of a Kind"

The gimmick, as it were, of this 1934 Paramount comedy is the six comedy performers, paired off into three man-and-woman teams, who all appear together. W. C. Fields and his frequent screen partner Alsion Skipworth appear in the second half of the film and shine in their roles as a small-town sheriff and innkeeper. Fields seems to have been given the latitude to inject plenty of his own one-of-a-kind brand of misanthropic, surreal comedy into his part, and it works wonderfully, especially where he is allowed to do his famous pool table routine, a digression that is totally welcome since it is hilarious.

At first thought it might have seemed like a mismatch to conceive of a film to be carried by the subtle domestic comedy of Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland next to the broad, jokey Vaudeville patter of the great husband-and-wife comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen, but here it works perfectly because of the parts George and Gracie are given in the script. They are there are freeloaders hitching a ride to California on Ruggles' and Boland's honeymoon trip and consistently find ways to annoy them at every step, including, brilliantly, while they are each holding on to the side of a cliff for dear life.

Making Burns and Allen comic annoyances to two sympathetic characters turns out to be a perfect way to fit their far-out, larger-than-life comedy characters into a real world setting -- the comedy of people reacting to them in a believable way turns out to be as much as a gold-mine as Gracie's famous naive delivery itself.

Charlie Ruggles deserves special mention for his performance as the fussy banker "Pinky" Whinney. He's marvelously subtle and underplayed, and draws laughs from lines that in another actor's hands might not even have been heard.

The script is wonderfully witty all through, and most of the way it's a perfectly extended comedy of frustration in which our sympathies are with the poor Whinneys who can't get a moment alone, and the extra bonus is that what frustrates them is just more first-rate comedy material from Burns and Allen.

For the pre-code watchers out there, there is some rather suggestive material in some of the most amusing scenes, as Whinney tries to get across to George just WHY he and his wife want to be alone for a while.

There are a few signs of a rushed production here -- the occasional jump cut, one of the most obvious drop sets you will ever see in a movie (right up there with W. C. Field's own short "The Golf Specialist"), and the knot in Field's tie is constantly changing in shape. These don't bother me, though, and they shouldn't bother anybody who is enjoying the film.

"Six of a Kind" is a real little-known gem and one of the funniest movies I've seen in a while. If you're thinking about whether to watch it, the answer should be yes.

TCM's records indicate Six of a Kind is not available on DVD, but indeed it has been for some time, as part of the George Burns Triple Feature...

Six Of A Kind, Clockwise, W.c. Fields Photograph

Kardinal Rose - Six of a Kind | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

this is a film clip from the 1934 feature "Six Of A Kind", starring comedy screem legend W. C. Fields. Here, he portrays one of his most well-known and underrated characters, Honest John.

Either because "Six of a Kind" runs only an hour, or to make "Six of a Kind" appear better by contrast, the manufacturer of the DVD has stuck another Burns and Allen movie, onto the DVD. However, the copy of "Here Comes Cookie" is baldly missing several chunks (it lacks, for example, that film's staging of the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" with Gracie as Juliet).