The Fuller Brush Man (1948), starring Red Skelton, Janet Blair
In a nutshell, The Fuller Brush Man is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Red Skelton is at his finest, both in verbal comedy as well as in physical slapstick galore. The basic plot has Red Skelton playing the part of Red Jones, a well-meaning young man … Who keeps getting fired from every job he’s ever held within three weeks. The girl he loves, Ann Elliot (played by Janet Blair) refuses his marriage proposal. Until he matures enough to be able to provide for a family. Red decides to emulate his rival for Ann’s love by becoming a door-to-door salesman for the Fuller Brush company. Unfortunately, this leads him to be the witness to a murder, with the police and gangsters following
The comedy comes fast and furious, and gives Red Skelton ample opportunity to work his magic. Slapstick, verbal comedy, and comedic action scenes that come straight out the Looney Tunes cartoons. Which isn’t surprising, since Frank Tashlin (former Looney Tunes artist and director) wrote the screenplay.
There are truly too many comedy highlights to list
- Red accidentally setting fire to a park as a sanitation worker
- A series of vignettes attempting to be a Fuller Brush man … Where he runs into one of his radio characters, the Mean Little Kid.
- Hiding in the garden of the crooked Commissioner of Sanitation who fired Red earlier in the day
- Rred’s interrogation
- A truly hilarious scene in his apartment, where one set of characters come in after another, with Red hiding a half-dozen assorted villains in his too-small kitchen, the entire finale of the movie that would fit in a cartoon, etc.
I laughed long, loud, hard and often, as did my children who were watching it with me. I recommend it highly, and I rate it a (very rare) perfect 5 clowns. Be sure to read the funny movie quotes from The Fuller Brush Man as well!
Cast of characters
- Red Skelton (Whistling in the Dark) … Red Jones
- Janet Blair (My Sister Eileen) … Ann Elliot
- Don McGuire (Congo Bill) … Keenan Wallick
- Hillary Brooke (Sherlock Holmes: The Woman In Green; Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd) … Mildred Trist
- Adele Jergens (Beware of Blondie; Day The World Ended) … Miss Sharmley
- Ross Ford (Project Moonbase; Blondie’s Reward) … Freddie Trist
- Trudy Marshall (The Dancing Masters) … Sara Franzen
- Nicholas Joy (Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff) … Commissioner Gordon Trist
- Donald Curtis (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers) … Gregory Cruckston
- Arthur Space (The Big Noise; 20 Million Miles to Earth) … Police Lt. Quint
- Verna Felton (Sleeping Beauty) … Junior’s Grandmother
Trivia about The Fuller Brush Man
- A major part of the movie involves a murder and a disappearing dagger. Red Skelton’s character discovers someone has made the dagger by soaking the handle of one of his brushes in hot water and reshaping it. When the handle is put back into hot water it returns to its original shape. After trying numerous ways to make this look realistic with special effects the producers finally went to a plastics company. And had them actually develop a “memory plastic”. It was such a big story that it was in an article covered in “Life” magazine.
- The Fuller Brush Man was a successful enough to launch a sequel. The Fuller Brush Girl, starring Lucille Ball and Eddie Albert. With a cameo appearance by Red Skelton