Joe Holt (Joe E. Brown) works at the Armstrong Rubber Goods and Swimming Wear Company. He’s a small-time employee of the company, but he has big aspirations. He’s invented a new bathing suit material which is unsinkable, and it may finally be the thing that sends him up the corporate ladder.
Joe’s aspirations for success don’t make him very popular with his coworkers, who are constantly playing practical jokes on him. Their latest includes convincing him that Mr. Armstrong is interested in his invention when really, Mr. Armstrong has no interest in Joe.
Joe soon finds out that he has inherited a fortune from his aunt. He quits his job and heads to California to collect… only to find that there is no fortune. Instead, there’s just some useless stock and Sam Wellington (Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins), the orphaned son of one of his aunt’s servants, who Joe must now care for.
Joe and Sam are struggling, absolutely broke and looking for work. A local socialite, Alice Brandon (Ginger Rogers), invites the two to stay at her father’s house. But there’s trouble: Alice has mistaken Joe for a marathon swimmer (Guinn Williams) with the same name, who is scheduled to compete in a major race.
Lloyd Bacon directs 1932’s You Said a Mouthful, a comedy from First National and Vitaphone Pictures.
This film ran on TCM back in July for Ginger’s birthday and I was very excited to give it a watch, since I’m a huge fan of both Ginger and Joe E. Brown. Both are very good here — Joe with his ultra-expressive face, Ginger with her quick wit and magnetic screen presence.
There are a couple of brilliant scenes in which we get a bit of Joe’s internal dialogue through narration. Brown puts on an over-the-top, contemplative expression, and these scenes are a highlight of the film.
Ginger isn’t given quite enough to do, instead serving as a simple love interest for Joe, but she does a great job with what she’s given and the two stars work well together.
More so than the Joe Holt/Alice Brandon relationship, I really loved the friendship that was built between Joe and the young boy he suddenly has to adopt, Sam. Sam is very smart and much more clever than the often-sheepish Joe. Rather than finding a way for them to sneak out of the mistaken-identity mess, Sam proposes that Joe actually learn how to swim and compete in the race, promising that he can teach Joe everything he needs to know! This was Allen Hoskins’ first feature-length film, after appearing in over 100 Our Gang shorts, and he’s a nice addition to the cast.
You Said a Mouthful is quite a funny film which improves greatly in its lengthy swim-race scene, which includes multiple emotional breakdowns on part of Joe Holt. Overall, this flick’s a quick and fun watch that I’d recommend to fellow fans of Joe E. Brown. The score: 3/5