The Chief (1933)

63 or 66 mins | Comedy | 3 November 1933

Director:

Charles F. Reisner

Cinematographer:

Edward F. Paul

Editor:

William S. Gray

Production Designer:

Stan Rogers

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Fire Chief. Ed Wynn, whose above-the-title credit includes the descriptive phrase "The Perfect Fool," recreated his popular radio character, "The Fire Chief," in the film. The Fire Chief program, which was sponsored by Texaco Oil, was first broadcast on 28 Apr 1932 on the NBC broadcasting network. Graham McNamee, who appears in the film, was the show's band leader and announcer. According to the FD review, the film opens with Wynn introducing his "three-act opera" in a radio broadcast. This opening apparently was cut from the general release prints. The Var review, which describes an early Dec 1933 New York screening, lists the film's running time as 80 minutes, while a DV Sep 1933 review gives the length as 89 minutes, suggesting that at least nine minutes may have been cut from the story. An Aug 1933 HR news item announced that Jack Cummings was to supervise the production, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to an early Sep 1933 DV news item, Edna May Oliver was to replace Jobyna Howland in a role, but neither actress appears in the final film, and it is not known to which role the actresses were assigned. ...

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The working title of this film was The Fire Chief. Ed Wynn, whose above-the-title credit includes the descriptive phrase "The Perfect Fool," recreated his popular radio character, "The Fire Chief," in the film. The Fire Chief program, which was sponsored by Texaco Oil, was first broadcast on 28 Apr 1932 on the NBC broadcasting network. Graham McNamee, who appears in the film, was the show's band leader and announcer. According to the FD review, the film opens with Wynn introducing his "three-act opera" in a radio broadcast. This opening apparently was cut from the general release prints. The Var review, which describes an early Dec 1933 New York screening, lists the film's running time as 80 minutes, while a DV Sep 1933 review gives the length as 89 minutes, suggesting that at least nine minutes may have been cut from the story. An Aug 1933 HR news item announced that Jack Cummings was to supervise the production, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to an early Sep 1933 DV news item, Edna May Oliver was to replace Jobyna Howland in a role, but neither actress appears in the final film, and it is not known to which role the actresses were assigned.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1933
p. 1
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1933
p. 3
Film Daily
2 Sep 1933
p. 2
Film Daily
2 Dec 1933
p. 3
HF
9 Sep 1933
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1933
p. 6
Motion Picture Herald
14 Oct 1933
p. 46
Motion Picture Herald
9 Dec 1933
p. 39
New York Times
2 Dec 1933
p. 9
Variety
5 Dec 1933
p. 17
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Fire Chief
Release Date:
3 November 1933
Production Date:
began 1 Sep 1933
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
30 October 1933
LP4224
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
63 or 66
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

On the Fourth of July, in the Bowery of the 1890's, bumbler Henry Summers attends an outdoor ceremony at which a water-spouting statue of his fire chief father, who died during a heroic fire rescue, is to be unveiled. After he accidentally causes the statue to drench everyone at the ceremony, Henry is fired from his shipping job at Al Morgan's department store, but is made honorary fire chief by the Bowery fire department. During the induction ceremony, a fire breaks out, and Henry is dragged to the scene. Although terrified, Henry finds himself inside a burning building and, through an accident, rescues an unconscious woman from the flames. Henry is declared a hero by the local newspapers and is courted by Morgan, who offers him a new job as the manager of his hat department. Soon after Henry's return to the store, Morgan schemes with racketeer Danny O'Rourke and dancer Dixie Dean to talk Henry into running against Clayton, the crooked alderman of the Bowery. Before Morgan proposes his plan to Henry, however, Clayton offers the clerk a higher paying job as well as an opportunity to expand his fledgling orchestra. Flattered by Clayton's offer, Henry tells Morgan he is quitting and refuses to consider his campaign idea. Dixie eventually persuades the adoring Henry to run against Clayton by telling him that Clayton once had struck her. Before Henry officially announces his candidacy at a banquet, however, Clayton and his gang start a brawl in the banquet room and frighten him into withdrawing from the race. Once again, Dixie changes Henry's mind by telling him that if Clayton is re-elected, he will ...

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On the Fourth of July, in the Bowery of the 1890's, bumbler Henry Summers attends an outdoor ceremony at which a water-spouting statue of his fire chief father, who died during a heroic fire rescue, is to be unveiled. After he accidentally causes the statue to drench everyone at the ceremony, Henry is fired from his shipping job at Al Morgan's department store, but is made honorary fire chief by the Bowery fire department. During the induction ceremony, a fire breaks out, and Henry is dragged to the scene. Although terrified, Henry finds himself inside a burning building and, through an accident, rescues an unconscious woman from the flames. Henry is declared a hero by the local newspapers and is courted by Morgan, who offers him a new job as the manager of his hat department. Soon after Henry's return to the store, Morgan schemes with racketeer Danny O'Rourke and dancer Dixie Dean to talk Henry into running against Clayton, the crooked alderman of the Bowery. Before Morgan proposes his plan to Henry, however, Clayton offers the clerk a higher paying job as well as an opportunity to expand his fledgling orchestra. Flattered by Clayton's offer, Henry tells Morgan he is quitting and refuses to consider his campaign idea. Dixie eventually persuades the adoring Henry to run against Clayton by telling him that Clayton once had struck her. Before Henry officially announces his candidacy at a banquet, however, Clayton and his gang start a brawl in the banquet room and frighten him into withdrawing from the race. Once again, Dixie changes Henry's mind by telling him that if Clayton is re-elected, he will neglect his civic duties and possibly cause her death in a fire. Thus inspired, Henry declares his candidacy and brings a circus to town to kick off his campaign. While Henry is impressing his potential voters by wrestling a circus bear, his doting mother Ma is kidnapped by Clayton's men. Henry then is notified through an anonymous telephone call that if he wants to see his mother alive, he must pull out of the race. To save Ma, Henry prepares to meet the kidnappers' demands and, after a reformed Dixie reveals Morgan's scheme to him, telephones the newspaper to report his withdrawal. The reporters, however, are suspicious of Henry's call and fail to print the story in their next edition. Before Clayton and his men make good on their threats, Henry decides to act crazy in order to turn the voters against him and, wearing a lampshade on his head, runs screaming through the streets. During Henry's run, Clayton is arrested for the kidnapping, and Ma is saved. Henry then appears in a radio studio summing up the "third act" of his fire chief "opera." After revealing that Ma, Dixie and he lived happily ever after, Henry says goodbye to his appreciative radio listeners.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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