Synopsis by Hal Erickson
W.C. Fields' It's the Old Army Game is an expansion on four Fields stage skits, originally performed in the Broadway revue The Comic Supplement. Described in the opening title as "the epic of the American druggist," the story begins late one night, in the apothecary shop of Elmer Prettywillie (Fields) in Ocala, Florida (where the film was location-shot). Aroused from his slumbers by a frantic customer (Elise Cavanna), Elmer discovers that all the woman wants is a two-cent stamp -- which she doesn't pay for. Attempting to mail her letter, the woman inadvertently sets off a fire alarm, which brings the local fire brigade to Elmer's store. The minute they leave, a real fire breaks out, which Elmer has to extinguish himself. Trying to get back to sleep on the back porch of his store, poor Elmer is continually awakened by the sounds of the neighborhood, ranging from a squalling infant to a steady stream of street vendors. After a hectic and typically profitless day behind the counter of his store, Elmer takes his family on a picnic, during which he ends up on the grounds of a Florida estate which he hopes to purchase. Only after nearly wrecking the grounds does Elmer discover that the property is not for sale. Cult figure Louise Brooks, then the wife of director Eddie Sutherland, plays Elmer's counter assistant Marilyn. It's the Old Army Game was remade as It's a Gift (1934) while certain plot elements and gags resurfaced in Fields' talkie 2-reeler The Pharmacist (1932).
fire, pharmacist, picnic, sleep, customer, stamp