Sog.: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Scen.: Henry Myers, Nicholas Barrows. F.: Arthur L. Todd. Mus.: Rudolph G. Kopp, John Leipold. Int.: Jack Oakie (Migg Tweeney), W.C. Fields (il presidente), Andy Clyde (il maggiordomo), Lyda Roberti (Mata Machree), Susan Fleming (Angela), Ben Turpin (l’uomo misterioso), Hugh Herbert (Segretario del Tesoro), George Barbier (signor Baldwin), Dickie Moore (Willie). Prod.: Herman J. Mankiewicz per Paramount Publix Corp. 35mm. Bn.
Trust a Mankiewicz (Herman or Joe?) to send you off the track right from the get-go with the very title: the million dollar legs belong not to a Ziegfeld Follies blonde or even Betty Grable (who will star in a dog of the same title in 1939), but to a goat herder who runs fast. Very fast. Enough maybe to save cash-strapped Klopstokia from the brink, should its team win enough medals at the Olympics.
Rumour has it that the zany plot idea came from a Moldavian pole vaulter who in the real life prelims wore goatskin shorts with the hair on the outside. Paramount did not care, as long as it had something muscular to put on the screen by the time the 1932 Summer Olympics came to Los Angeles. Hence this insanity, which they completed just in time. Although Eddie Cline was
W.C. Fields’ favorite director, this is not a Fields vehicle. Even if Klopstokia is peopled mostly by goats and nuts, it is a serious nation, where matters of state are decided via strongarm feats. Jack Oakie is the star here, as the visiting representative for Baldwin Brushes (Lubitsch regular George Barbier plays Mr. Baldwin). A spying vamp named Mata Machree is a definite Mankiewicz touch and Irish taunt, as she’s played by Polish circus bombshell Lyda Roberti who undulates throughout, sometimes singing When I’m Hot (“It’s horrific when I get mean / I’m just a woman made of gelatine”). Two years later, once at MGM, Mank will take another poke at Mata (“Mata’s the matter”), and maybe at Josef von Sternberg as well, with Stamboul Quest. With ex-Keystone cop Cline directing, the picture hiccups and sways along, swarming with old slapstickers including Ben Turpin and Andy Clyne (the Goat Man).