18 user 13 critic

You're Telling Me! (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 18 May 1934 (France)
A hard-drinking, socially-awkward inventor wrecks his daughter's chances of marriage into a rich family and bungles his own chances of success by selling one of his more practical inventions.


Erle C. Kenton


Walter DeLeon (screen play), Paul M. Jones (screen play) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
W.C. Fields ... Sam Bisbee
Joan Marsh ... Pauline Bisbee
Buster Crabbe ... Bob Murchison (as Larry 'Buster' Crabbe)
Adrienne Ames ... Princess Lescaboura
Louise Carter ... Mrs. Bessie Bisbee
Kathleen Howard ... Mrs. Murchison
Tammany Young ... Caddy
Dell Henderson ... Mayor (as Del Henderson)
James B. 'Pop' Kenton James B. 'Pop' Kenton ... Doc Beebe
Robert McKenzie ... Charlie Bogle (as Robert Mc Kenzie)
Nora Cecil ... Mrs. Price
George Irving ... President of Tire Co.


Sam Bisbee is an inventor whose works (e.g., a keyhole finder for drunks) have brought him only poverty. His daughter is in love with the son of the town snob. Events conspire to ruin his bullet-proof tire just as success seems near. Another of his inventions prohibits him from committing suicide, so Sam decides to go on living.. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He will make you laugh all day- while he invents gags and gadgets IT'S A SCREAM! (Print Ad- Youngstown Vindicator, ((Youngstown, Ohio)) 7 May 1934)




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 May 1934 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Apesar dos Pesares See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. However, because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and was not televised until many years afterward. It was released on DVD 20 March 2007 as one of 5 titles in the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Volume 2, and again 4 June 2013 as one of 10 titles in Universal's W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection and has also enjoyed an occasional airing on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


Rosita is brushing Princess Lescaboura's nails and after Rosita says, "But you must.", the Princess' hands are under the table. See more »


[repeated line]
Sam Bisbee: Drat!
See more »


References The Golf Specialist (1930) See more »


Funeral March of a Marionette
Music by Charles Gounod (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Bisbee's Punctured Romance
15 May 2004 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

YOU'RE TELLING ME? (Paramount, 1934), directed by Erle C. Kenton, adapted from the story "Mr. Bisbee's Princess" by Julian Street, stars W.C Fields in his first domestic comedy since his silent comedy days of the late 1920s, reprising the character he originated from SO'S YOUR OLD MAN (Paramount, 1926). In spite of some script alterations, ranging from the invention of unbreakable glass to punctured proof tires, the basic premise remains the same. As in most comedies displaying Fields the family man, he's a lovable father worshiped by an offspring, in many instances, his daughter, looked upon by his spouse as a miserable failure, until success comes his way for his wife to have a new outlook on him. While she may still appear to have lost interest in him, she hasn't lost her pride by elevating herself to the level of her husband's rewarded success.

For the basic plot: Samuel Bisbee (WC Fields) lives in a small town of Crystal Springs. He supports his wife, Abigail, (Louise Carter), formerly Abigail Warren of the acclaimed Warrens of Virginia, and daughter, Pauline (Joan Marsh). Sam is an optometrist who spends most of his time working on several inventions at the shop. In between his intervals, he gets together with the neighboring husbands enjoying themselves drinking liquor. Aside from domestic problems involving Pauline's love for Bob Murchinson (Larry "Buster" Crabbe), son of society snob, Mrs. Edward Quimby Murchinson (Kathleen Howard), who disapproves of their relationship, especially after meeting her father. As everything seems to fail, Bisbee gets a registered letter from the National Tire Company asking for a demonstration of his latest invention, a punctured-proof tire. Things go wrong when his automobile, equipped with the punctured proof tires, parked in a non-parking zone to be towed during Bisbee's absence and substituted by the same make and model police car. Bisbee demonstrates the puncture proof tire to Mr. Robbins (George Irving) by shooting at them, only to witness tires going flat one at a time. Foiled again, Sam takes the next train home. Depressed, he decides to commit suicide, leaving his wife a note before swallowing some iodine, but instead, mistakes a woman passenger (Adrienne Ames) with a bottle of iodine with intentions of doing the same thing, thus "saving her life." Unaware that she's the famed Princess Lescaboura traveling incognito, he befriends her in her cabin, telling her his life story. Seen together by town gossips, rumor spreads about Bisbee's secret rendezvous on the train with an attractive woman. Finding Bisbee in need of encouragement, the princess helps him by coming to Crystal Springs, surprising, in fact, shocking the people of her sole purpose being to visit her "good friend," Samuel Bisbee, the one who "saved her life in the war."

A domestic comedy with its ups and downs, is definitely a WC Fields showcase from his unsuccessful to successful inventions; attempt to make up with his wife a giant Ostrich as a gift; to his climatic golf game lifted from one of Fields' many comic supplements originated on the stage, and duplicated in his comedy short, THE GOLF SPECIALIST (1930), this time with Tammany Young as the caddy stooge.

Kathleen Howard, famous for pairing as Fields' shrewish wife in both IT'S A GIFT (1934) and THE MAN OF THE FLYING TRAPEZE (1935), makes her initial appearance with him here. Louise Carter, a physically fragile looking woman, as the domineering wife, shows her lack of love for her husband when in one instant, is told by the visiting Princess, "I think you're the luckiest woman in the world." Mrs. Bisbee asks, "Is my husband dead?" "Buster" Crabbe, the famed swimming champion who scored success as Kaspa, the lion man, in KING OF THE JUNGLE (Paramount, 1933), and the chaptered serial, TARZAN THE FEARLESS (1933), ranks one of the stronger supporting names ever credited in a Fields comedy, yet his secondary role, gives him little to do, especially during the climatic golf game sequence where all he does is look on approvingly and smile. Joan Marsh as Bisbee's daughter, with hairstyle and features resembling Mary Carlisle, another Paramount starlet, has her limitations as well. Adrienne Ames as the princess, addressed as "Marie" by Bisbee, comes off better, as the sympathetic character who helps Sam Bisbee regain his confidence and respect from his family and townspeople. She's the one who uses the titled catch phrase, "You're telling me?"

YOU'RE TELLING ME? is a sort after Fields comedy. Once unavailable for viewing, it finally surfaced on commercial television in the late 1970s, which, by then, was a totally unfamiliar Fields comedy. Prior to that, when TV Guide had the title "You're Telling Me" listed, it turned out to be not the Fields edition but a Universal 1942 comedy bearing the same title starring Hugh Herbert. The Fields edition gained its recognition when presented, along with other Fields/ Paramount comedies, on American Movie Classics (1992-93). Out of circulation for nearly a decade, YOU'RE TELLING ME?, which has since been distributed on video cassette, received some further exposure on Turner Classic Movies (2001-2002).

As with themes to many Frank Capra comedies about the common man, "No man is a failure ... when he has friends," this goes for Samuel Bisbee who finds the true friendship with Princess Lescaboura, proving to him that he, in true essence, is not a failure at all. YOU'RE TELLING ME? is an enjoyable 66 minutes,not only displaying Fields' comedic talents as inventor who's no Thomas Edison, but a family man with a sympathetic nature, even when sneaking in drink or two. You're telling me? (**1/2)

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