Cast: Red Skelton, Janet Blair, Don McGuire, Adele Jergens, Donald Curtis, Arthur Space, Hillary Brooke, Ross Ford, Trudy Marshall, Nicholas Joy, Selmer Jackson, Jimmy Hunt (the Mean Widdle Kid).
Based on The Saturday Evening Post short story "Appointment with Fear" (28 September 1946) by Roy Huggins.
Columbia. 1948. 93 mins.
For sale HERE.
Before he can finally clear himself, Red and Janet Blair almost get rubbed out in a war surplus warehouse filled with explosives. Congratulations are due the stunt people, who definitely earned their paychecks on this picture.
Ray Faiola, on the Internet Movie Database, has nice things to say about the film with which we concur:
THE FULLER BRUSH MAN is, hands-down, Red Skelton's best film. The script is tight and packed solid with one liners. The supporting cast, especially Janet Blair and Don McGuire, are very personable (McGuire in a greasy sort of way, of course!). The scenario is perfectly balanced between the first half wherein Red tries to make something of himself and the second half after which a murder is committed in the home of the sanitation commissioner who fired Skelton. Like Sylvan Simon's WHISTLING pictures, there is an extended set-piece—this time in Red's apartment. But unlike the MGM comedies (poor MGM, they tried at comedy) the cutting, camera-work and staging are more fluid. And funnier. BUT all this is but a build-up to one of the great chase finales in pictures. And here is where co-scenarist Frank Tashlin really shows his stuff. The chase is a raucous knockabout affair with the gangsters, all played by top stunt players such as Dave Sharpe and Bud Wolfe, bounce and tumble like the Keystone Kops. And what really sells the chase is Heinz Roemheld's dizzy, pizzicato scoring. It is perfectly punctuated and wraps the entire finale up into a three-ring circus act. It is very interesting to compare the chase finale in FULLER BRUSH MAN to the chase finale in THE YELLOW CAB MAN. The latter sequence was scored by MGM cartoon music maestro Scott Bradley. But for some unconscionable reason, Bradley's music was completely dropped from the finale. Talk about a scotched opportunity. Never mind. See THE FULLER BRUSH MAN. It's Red's best.At one point Red refers to himself as "Philo Jones," a reference to society sleuth Philo Vance.
For you trivia hounds, the original story featured P. I. Stu(art) Bailey, played on TV a decade later by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., in the 77 Sunset Strip series. At almost the same time as The Fuller Brush Man was being filmed, a more serious movie featuring the Stu Bailey character (I Love Trouble with Franchot Tone in the lead) was also being lensed; it even had a few actors from the Skelton film (Janet Blair, Adele Jergens, Donald Curtis). Coincidence? We don't think so.
Category: Comic crime films