INTERNATIONAL HOUSE (A. Edward Sutherland, 1933)

In Wu-Hu, China, scientist Dr. Wong has invented a “radioscope”—visual radio, which will come to be known as television. He is to demonstrate his invention at the International House Hotel, upon which an assortment of characters have descended (Professor Quail, literally, in his private plane), including those eager to purchase rights to the invention.
     Excelling at both verbal comedy and slapstick, all of it robust and (in the best sense) vulgar, International House is screamingly funny; it left me helpless with steady laughter. W.C. Fields, as the high-flying Quail, and Gracie Allen, as nurse to George Burns’s hotel doctor, are hilarious, but Stu Erwin, as lovesick and quarantined-sick Tommy Nash of the American Electric Company, is the most hilarious, and even Bela Lugosi, as Petronovich, who once commanded the tsarist guard, is very funny.
     Morons—those with the bug polititis correctivitis up their asses—needn’t apply. (Cab Calloway sings “Reefer Man,” about someone who finds a way to fly high without a plane.) All others, especially cat lovers, rush to International House for the time of your life.
     Superficial, well, yes; silly, I suppose; but sssooooooo funny.

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