Earthworm Tractors (1936)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jul 24, 1936 (USA)  |   Run Time - 68 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Joe E. Brown, the irreplaceable star of the oddly-titled Earthworm Tractors, is an odd figure who seems to have been cobbled together from many different materials. His face, for example, is quite clearly made of rubber, and rubber which has only just barely been allowed to set. But his feet are not rubber, but something that is somewhat lighter than helium. Then there are his hands, which can flutter like a bird at times and are attached to what can only be springs. This strangely made creature was clearly designed for comedy, and it's good for Earthworm that this is the case, for the film needs a unique comic presence at its center to work. With Brown around, that is clearly the case, and he makes what could have been a too-cute or too-forced film into an extremely pleasant and very agreeable laughfest. He has a perfect foil in Guy Kibbee, whose stubbornness and temper provide perfect fodder for Brown. The screenplay is very silly, nothing more than a set-up for some gags, but director Ray Enright makes sure those gags land with very solid punches. Several sequences, such as the exploding bridge and the house transportation sequence, are guaranteed to provoke gales of laughter. Earthworm may not be a classic, but it's a lot of fun.