My first feature-length W.C. Fields film was a pleasant surprise (I’d been bored silly by his short The Dentist), even if It’s a Gift wasn’t really a laugh-out-loud experience for me. In Fields’ Harold Bissonette, we have a man who just wants to break free from his stuffy, run-of-the-mill, existence and follow his dreams (i.e. buying an orange grove) for once in his life, and here he is getting lambasted by all forces imagineable—his wife Amelia (Kathleen Howard), whose indignant facial expressions recall Mary Boland’s Effie Floud in Ruggles of Red Gap; random strangers; acquaintances (such as the little boy who spills molasses all over the floor of Harold’s shop), and even inanimate objects such as a porch bench and his car! It’s impossible not to root for the resolute Fields as he gives common wisdom the finger,  and bumbles & stumbles towards fulfilling his fantasy. Towards the end, when it looks like Harold’s finally going to have some luck go his way, you’re just sure he’ll find some way to blow it, but you hope & pray that he doesn’t…and that’s the sign of an endearing protagonist! As mentioned, I didn’t actually guffaw much at It’s a Gift, but your mileage may vary: I guess I’m more of a Chaplin humor sort of fellow. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here, and little to dislike.

68/100