International House

International House

DVD - 2004
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A zany scientist in China invents a radio you can see: television. Every country wants to buy the rights, so characters from around the world converge on China and collide into a free-wheeling double-dealing variety show.


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May 02, 2015

When Professor Wong announces his latest invention, the “radioscope”, will revolutionize broadcasting, industry representatives from around the world descend upon Shanghai’s International House Hotel in the hopes of acquiring the copyright. Sight gags, slapstick, and double entendres ensue as competing CEO’s wreak mayhem from the lobby clear up to the top floor. With cameos from the likes of George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bela Lugosi, and W.C. Fields, this one-hour gag reel is little more than a vehicle for showcasing big name radio and movie stars of the time. Burns plays it straight as the house physician with Allen as his ditzy nurse, Lugosi is the crazy Russian aristocrat, and Fields plays the eccentric lush smitten with blonde bombshell Peggy Hopkins Joyce. The rest of the cast have now sunken into obscurity with the exception of Cab Calloway adding a bit of jazz and “Baby” Rose Marie belting out a torch song atop a pair of grand pianos. And then there’s the nightclub floor show whose deadpan campiness is laugh-out-loud hilarious! Definitely dated and amusingly racist (“Me washy clothes!”) but still fun to watch—and since it was released before the draconian Hays Code took effect the sly references to drugs and sex are unexpectedly ribald: “Oh, it’s a pussy…” says Fields staring between Joyce’s legs before reaching down and rescuing the cat she accidentally sat upon. Oh my!


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