Free for All (1949)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A pleasant comedy with serious undertones, Free for All stars Robert Cummings as erstwhile inventor Christopher Parker. Hoping to secure a patent on his latest invention--a formula that turns water into gasoline--Parker is flummoxed by yards and yards of governmental and bureaucratic red tape. He also faces formidable opposition in the form of avaricious oil-company executive Blair (Ray Collins). Thankfully, Peterson can occasionally seek comfort in the arms of Alva (Ann Blyth), fortuitously the daughter of sympathetic patent-office employe Mr. Abbott (Percy Kilbride). Within a few years, the heat generated by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee would preclude the on-screen depiction of a villainous oil executive (this particular stereotype would, however, stage a comeback during the energy crises of the 1970s). Outside of its satirical jibes, Free for All scores its biggest laughs when concentrating on the various eccentrics (Percy Helton, Harry Antrim et. al.) dwelling in Mr Abbott's gadget-laden boarding house.

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Keywords

bureaucracy, executive, gasoline, inventor, oil-company, oil-industry, patent