We learn plenty about Egbert Sousé — from the upstanding neighbor lady who misreads the accent in his last name and thinks him a “souse” to his daughters, wife and mother-in-law who think he’s not only a souse, but also lazy, also deceptive and especially an embarrassment. The comedy is broad and sometimes physical in this slight, hijinks stuffed picture, but the comic timing of W.C. Fields is so spectacular; the outrageousness of every bit of the ridiculous plot is so engaging; the many characters are such delightful (and yet recognizable!) parodies of times that continue to populate our lives — that the experience of watching it offers much more reward than many of the films on the “A List” — many of which require an appreciation for context, genre and historical development.
Egbert Sousé is a racist a misogynist, lazy, a sous, a fabricator and stupidly self-interested, and yet at the end of the film his foolishness, misapprehended by everyone as courage, brilliance, wisdom, experience and wit — are rewarded beyond measure. The delight of this contrivance is that the audience both gets what they want (a happy ending), but also is forced to acknowledge that the reward of society is not always legitimate and may, in fact be quite mistaken.