Two of the comedic films of Joe E. Brown were Oscar-nominated. “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956) won the Oscar, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1935) was considered for the coveted trophy.
Throughout my writing life, I’ve considered success to be completing a project. Writers, do, however, desire acknowledgement and publication, as well, for their hours and hours of toil involving filling blank pages. Although my writing is satisfaction of accomplishment itself, I was thrilled to have my short story, Interlock, commercially published in 2017. (See My Writing Life Xposed )
Joe E. Brown’s success as an acrobat, comedian, and film idol came much sooner in his life. By mid-life, he was a hot commodity as a movie star.
Joe E.’s films hit the hot lists in the 1930s. His leading ladies included Ginger Rogers, Jane Wyman, Olivia de Havilland, and Susan Hayward, all Oscar winners later in their careers.
An acrobat-turned-film comedian, Joe E. was known world-wide for his wider than normal mouth which he seemingly rubberized into an astoundingly large grin. In a Hollywood atmosphere dotted with social leniency, he was also known for his honesty and never-failing ability to laugh.
Joe E. Brown Film List:
1928 — Crooks Can’t Win (FBO, 60 minutes); Hit of the Show (FBO, 60 min.); Take Me Home (Paramount, 60 min.); The Circus Kid (FBO, 65 min.)
1929 — Molly and Me (Tiffany-Stahl, 60 min.); My Lady’s Past (T-S, 60 min.); Painted Faces (T-S, 60 min.); Sally (Warner Bros., 1 hr./40 min.)
1930 — Song of the West (W-B, 1 hr./22 min.); Hold Everything (W-B, 1 hr./18 min.); Top Speed (W-B, 1 hr./11 min.); Maybe It’s Love (W-B, 1 hr./11 min.); The Lottery Bride (United Artists, 1 hr./25 min.)
1931 — Going Wild (W-B, 1 hr./10 min.); Sit Tight (W-B, 1 hr./17 min.); Broad Minded (W-B, 1 hr./5 min.); Local Boy Makes Good (W-B, 1 hr./7 min.)
1932 — Fireman, Save My Child (W-B, 1 hr./7 min.); The Tenderfoot (W-B, 1 hr./10 min.); You Said A Mouthful (W-B, 1 hr./15 min.)
1933 — Elmer the Great (W-B, 1 hr./14 min.); Son of a Sailor (W-B, 1 hr./10 min.)
1934 — A Very Honorable Guy (W-B, 1 hr./2 min.); The Circus Clown (W-B, 1 hr./3 min.); 6 Day Bike Rider (W-B, 1 hr./9 min.)
1935 — Alibi Ike (W-B, 1 hr./13 min.); Bright Lights (W-B, 1 hr./22 min.); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (W-B, 1 hr./57 min.)
1936 — Sons o’ Guns (W-B, 1 hr./19 min.); Earthworm Tractors (W-B, 1 hr./9 min.); Polo Joe (W-B, 1 hr./2 min.)
1937 — When’s Your Birthday? (RKO, 1 hr./17 min.); Riding on Air (RKO, 1 hr./10 min.); Fit for a King (RKO, 1 hr./13 min.)
1938 — Wide Open Faces (Columbia, 1 hr./7 min.); The Gladiator (Columbia, 1 hr./10 min.); Flirting with Fate (MGM, 1 hr./7 min.)
1939 — $1,000 a Touchdown (Paramount, 1 hr./11 min.); Beware, Spooks! (Columbia, 1 hr./5 min.)
1940 — So You Won’t Talk (Columbia, 1 hr./8 min.)
1942 — Shut My Big Mouth (Columbia, 1 hr./11 min.); Joan of Ozark (Republic, 1 hr./20 min.)
1943 — Chatterbox (Republic, 1 hr./15 min.)
1944 — Casanova in Burlesque (Republic, 1 hr./14 min.); Pin Up Girl (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1 hr./25 min.); Hollywood Canteen (W-B, 2 hrs./4 min.)
1947 — The Tender Years (Alperson-Twentieth Century-Fox, 1 hr./21 min.)
1951 — Showboat (MGM, 1 hr./47 min.)
1956 — Around the World in 80 Days, (U-A, 2 hrs./55 min.)
1959 — Some Like It Hot (U-A, 2 hrs.)
1963 — It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (U-A, 3 hrs./12 min.); The Comedy of Terror (American-International, 2 hrs./28 min.)
Personally, I own several of Joe E. Brown’s 1930s films, as well as Showboat and Some Like It Hot. There’s no question about Joe E. being a unique talent. His combination of comedic genius and honest portrayals created a lifestyle for him that took him around the world in much more than 80 days.
I never fail to belly-laugh when I watch his movies; even though I know when the punch line, or comedic move, is coming. That was his genius.
Photos are scans of the covers of the DVDs Sit Tight, The Tenderfoot, and Earthworm Tractors from the personal collection of Barbara Anne Helberg