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International House (1933)

Paramount Pictures sold this anarchic musical as “The Grand Hotel of comedy,” a claim supported by its wonderful array of clowns, including W.C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Franklin Pangborn and Stu Erwin. The flimsy plot, about an inventor in a Chinese hotel demonstrating a super-television that can show anything anywhere, is just an excuse for some inspired gags and strange musical numbers. There’s an expertly timed scene in which Burns and Pangborn take turns playing straight man to Allen at her daffiest, and you also get to see her strike sparks with Fields. Because it’s a pre-Code film, it also has some of Fields’ most risqué bits. Musical guests include Rudy Vallee, Baby Rose Marie and Cab Calloway, singing a song about getting high. 

d. A. Edward Sutherland, 68m, 35mm