Sunday, March 24, 2002


This is a light comedy-fantasy that might have benefitted from the Capra touch. Lee Tracy plays a man in his 30's who owns a small cigar store and is apparently barely making ends meet for himself and his wife (Mae Clarke). In the shop one day, he runs into an old friend (Otto Kruger) who has become rich and successful as a bank president. He offers to invest Tracy's savings to make him some quick money, but Clarke doesn't want to risk it. Drunk and pissed off, Tracy is hit by a car and he slips into a coma and dreams of what his life might have been like if he had taken the right path and become rich and famous, essentially trading life situations with Kruger with the knowledge of coming historical events, like WWI and the Depression . Of course, like in WIZARD OF OZ, he learns: 1) be careful what you wish for; you might get it!, 2) there's no place like home (above a cigar store with Mae Clarke).

The dream life is realistically portrayed until toward the end when it becomes a nightmarish fantasy sequence. One touch that seems right out of a Capra movie involves the rich Tracy pledging a million dollars for WWI servicemen to draw on when they return home from the front. I don't usually like Tracy, but his character is much more likeable here than in most of the other movies of his that I've seen. My one complaint about him is that he's really too old, even with makeup, to look right in the scenes where he's supposed to be 20 again. One other minor OZ connection: Clara Blandick (Aunt Em) and Charley Grapewin (Uncle Henry) both have small parts in the movie.

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