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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

It's In the Bag (1945)

(aka: The Fifth Chair)



Reviews and Comments

Radio star Fred Allen, friendly rival of Jack Benny, only made one feature film, and it was a good one. Allen is perfect for this sort of role -- in which the whole world seems to conspire against him, and all he's got to fight back with are sharp quips. The story is inspired by the Russian play of the twelve chairs, filmed faithfully and loosely many times, including Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs from 1970. There are only five chairs here, but the idea is the same: treasure is hidden in one of them, but they've all been sold to different parties, and it's a mad race to track them all down.

The device works well as a way to get Fred Allen in and out of otherwise disjointed sketches. They're all funny, but film and radio historians will find the most significance and delight in Allen's scene with Jack Benny. Imagine trying to get a chair back from him!

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