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A Successful Failure

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Successful Failure
Directed byArthur Lubin
Written byMarion Orth
Based onshort story, "Your Uncle William" by Michael Kane
Produced byGeorge Yohalem
CinematographyJerome Ash
Edited byJack Ogilvie
Music byClifford Vaughan
Distributed byMonogram Pictures
Release date
  • October 15, 1934 (1934-10-15)
Running time
62 minutes
CountryUnited States

A Successful Failure is a 1934 American film directed by Arthur Lubin. It was Lubin's first film as director.[1][2]

There is no connection between the fictional radio personality "Uncle Dudley" in this film, and the 1935 comedy film Your Uncle Dudley, with Edward Everett Horton.[3]

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Ellery Cushing (William Collier Sr.) has trouble at home, and at work. When he's fired from the newspaper where he's worked for fifteen years, his friend Phil (Russell Hopton) quits too, outraged.

Together, they work from their "office", on a park bench, until Phil can get Ellery a try-out, on a radio spot, as "Uncle Dudley". The character is a big hit, with his folksy witticisms.

Meanwhile, at home, Ma, Mrs. Cushing (Lucile Gleason), has her hands full with their daughter, Ruth (Gloria Shea), who has spurned Phil's attentions for an aging Lothario, Jerry (Jameson Thomas). While their oldest son, Robert (William Janney), after turning down a job, has got mixed up with some "Red" rabble-rousers, in the park.

Only their youngest son, Tommy (George P. Breakston), manages to stay out of trouble, doing his homework. Tommy thinks their Dad is alright, even better than "that guy on the radio", who they don't know is their father.

It's only after "Uncle Dudley" gets a concussion, after being hit with a brick, quelling a riot of "Reds", in the park that his family begin to value his worth, and, Phil's, if they all live to appreciate it.



This film is based on the short story "Your Uncle William" by Michael Kane, published in The Saturday Evening Post.[4]

William Collier signed in June 1934.[5] The film marked Lucile Gleason's return to movies after a break. Arthur Lubin became attached to direct in July.[6]

In August 1934 the film was officially put on Monogram's slate.[7]

It was the first film directed by Arthur Lubin who had been an actor and had directed theatre. Lubin says it was shot in five days.[8]


Lubin said "when it was reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter the headline was 'A Successful Failure: Aptly Titled'. I didn't think I'd ever be able to direct again!"[8] However he went on to direct two more films for Monogram, thus launching his career.[8]

Diabolique magazine called it 'a creaky comedy-drama about a doddery old reporter... whose family treats him with contempt; he goes on to earns their respect by interrupting his son's communist rally, becoming a radio star and slut shaming his daughter.' They added, 'these sort of worm-turns family dramas were surprisingly common in the thirties (Frank Capra made a bunch), and could be made watchable by strong actors and direction. However Successful Failure's cast was poor and Lubin's handling uneasy.'[9]


  1. ^ Schallert, E. (May 28, 1935). "Negotiations started for filming of 'petrified forest' with leslie howard". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 163303169.
  2. ^ ""Successful Failure" ...". Picture Show. Vol. 33, no. 842. London. Jun 22, 1935. pp. 5–6, 24.
  3. ^ Your Uncle Dudley at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ "Screenplay Info".
  5. ^ "Talented 3-Year Old Child Discovered as Studios Search for More Shirley Temple". Los Angeles Times. June 21, 1934. p. 11.
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (Jul 19, 1934). "Mitzi green, former child star, gets first grown-up role in edward small feature". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ "HUMAN ADVENTURE". The New York Times. Aug 12, 1934. p. X2.
  8. ^ a b c Flynn, Charles; McCarthy, Todd (1975). "Arthur Lubin". In Flynn, Charles; McCarthy, Todd (eds.). Kings of the Bs : working within the Hollywood system : an anthology of film history and criticism. E. P. Dutton. p. 364.
  9. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 February 2024, at 17:46
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