Year: 1936

Director: Mervyn LeRoy

Cast: Frank McHugh, Sam Levene, Joan Blondell, Alan Jenkins

Warner Brothers made series of gangster comedies in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Best known are A Slight Case of Murder and Larceny Inc. both starring Edward G. Robinson. Three Men on a Horse falls into this same sub-genre. Originally a play co-written by George Abbott that ran on Broadway for close to two years with Frank McHugh and Sam Levene originating the same roles they perform in the movie.

Erwin Trowbridge (Frank McHugh) is a loser. A henpecked husband who writes greeting cards sayings for a living, works for a company where he is grossly underpaid and treated like dirt. His home life is not much better, a ditz for a wife and brother in law who constantly berates him for not making money. You see Erwin bets on the ponies, and he always wins. Only he doesn’t bet for money. Never for money, that would be cheating. According to Patsy (Sam Levene) a Damon Runyon type gambler, Erwin is a poet. Patsy also sees Erwin as the goldmine he and his pals have been waiting for. Along with Levene, Allen Jenkins and Teddy Hart are the gamblers who kidnap Erwin with a plan to make them a fortune. Joan Blondell, using her Brooklyn accent to its best advantage, is Mabel, Patsy’s girlfriend. Eddie Rochester Anderson and Alan Hale are also on board as employees at the hotel where the gamblers are keeping Erwin while he comes up with the winning horses. The film was directed by Mervlyn LeRoy though there is no director’s credit given in the film. Three Men on a Horse is a pleasant humorous film filled enough laughs to satisfy even though it is somewhat dated at times. Nice performances by everyone in the cast.

It looks like Warner’s took their “B” team and gave them their own game to play and they came away a winner.

By John Greco

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