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It's A Gift

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  • It's A Gift

    The 400ft Super 8 release of Universal's W.C. Fields' "It's A Gift" is a combination of two earlier 200ft Castle releases, "The Big Thumb" and "California Bound". It was great pity that Universal used lower grade 16mm prints as a source material unlike Castle who used prime 35mm source material.

    My copy of the Universal release has a picture quality that is not too good, something like we used to refer to as "soot and whitewash". There are no real grey tones.

    I would like to ask anyone who has a copy of the 200ft "The Big Thumb" a question. At the end, W.C. fixes a notice on his shop door. Unfortunately my film is so bad that the notice is unreadable. So the question is:- what does the notice say?


  • #2
    Hi Maurice,
    The notice W C posts on the store front door is "Closed on account of molasses." This is even mentioned in the synopsis from the Universal 8 1978 catalog: "The Big Thumb (from It's a gift - 1934) WC. is a grocer with the nuttiest collection of customers ever assembled in one place - from a man who demands his kumquats to the helplessly destructive Mr. Muckle. Finally a bratty youngster causes Fields to close the store "on account of molasses."
    I had to find this scene on DVD in order to be able to read the sign. As you suggest, U8 second (or third) generation prints left something to be desired!!


    • #3
      Thank you, Carter,

      It now makes sense. The naughty little boy had turned on the tap of a large container marked "Molasses", the contents spread rapidly over the floor and over the boys shoes. When his mother returned to the store she berated W.C. with the words (or something similar) "How dare you let molasses cover my boy's new shoes, I'll never shop in this store again."

      The sequence with the deaf & blind man (a house detective in the hotel opposite, so says W.C.) crossing the road with police and fire trucks zooming in front and behind him as he makes his way over the road, completely unawares of the danger, is a great hoot and still puzzles me how it was all done.