A timid man (Ed Wynn) is thrust into the spotlight when his father is honored as a hero. He blunders into a series of adventures because of a woman (Dorothy Mackaill) and becomes a hero ...
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A timid man (Ed Wynn) is thrust into the spotlight when his father is honored as a hero. He blunders into a series of adventures because of a woman (Dorothy Mackaill) and becomes a hero himself. Although two political parties try to use him for their benefit, he unwittingly foils all their plans. This is based on Wynn's famous radio character, and the film ends with Wynn on his own radio show.Written by
This film's first telecast took place in Chicago Wednesday 19 June 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2); it first aired in Portland OR 6 November 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Baltimore 23 December 1957 on WJZ (Channel 13), in Hartford CT 17 May 1958 on WHCT (Channel 18), in New York City 7 July 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Philadelphia 17 July 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Tampa 14 August 1958 on WFLA (Channel 8), in Kalamazoo 8 October 1958 on WKZO (Channel 3), in New Haven 4 November 1958 on WNHC (Channel 8), in Miami 17 December 1958 on WCKT (Channel 7), in Cleveland 31 December 1958 on KYW (Channel 3), and in Indianapolis 23 August 1959 on WLW-I (Channel 13); it finally found its way to Des Moines 22 February 1961 on WHO (Channel 13) and to San Francisco 16 August 1961 on KGO (Channel 7). See more »
The frantic energy of Ed Wynn which went over so well on radio and in vaudeville for some reason did not come over well on the big screen. His son Keenan Wynn would achieve film success as a character actor before his old man did. It would be over 20 years more Ed Wynn would be seen live on film.
What he needed most was decent direction by a director who was versed in comedy who could have dialed down his perfect fool character to make it work. He did not get that in The Chief, his fire engine was going pedal to the metal.
For those who do not know the reason Ed Wynn was cast as the fire chief or in this case son of the fire chief was his well known radio persona. Wynn was for decades on radio sponsored by Texaco and he was known as the Texaco fire chief on the air. Like here on film, for his studio audiences Wynn would come out in a fire chief's hat and tell a lot of awful jokes in rapid succession like he was running to a fire. The jokes were bad, but the delivery was hilarious.
In this film Wynn is the son of a late fire chief on the Bowery back at the turn of the last century. A pair of political rivals try to use him for political purposes when they run and/or oppose his candidacy for alderman. God has a special providence for fools and the perfect fool comes out on top.
Walt Disney utilized him best. He was the voice of The Mad Hatter in his animated Alice In Wonderland film in 1950 and that was perfect casting. Later on if you want to see him with good direction in a live film, try watching his last film, The Gnomemobile. And he was quite the good dramatic actor in his last years, see him in Marjorie Morningstar and his Oscar nominated performance in The Diary Of Anne Frank.
But The Chief is strictly for Wynn's legion of fans and nostalgia lovers.
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