Films of Emil Sitka: WIFE TO SPARE (1947)
by Saxon E. Sitka
WIFE TO SPARE, Emil's second film with Andy Clyde, has him playing a role similar to his last one in both appearance and character: an eccentric but dignified, well-dressed gentleman whose decorum is shattered by the film's star.
In this film, Emil is "Mr. Pratt," a family attorney hired by Andy's mother-in-law. And a good lawyer he is too, for he soon has "the evidence" in possession. But he allows it to fall into the wrong hands and it ends up in flames. Hence the fire-extinguisher referred to in Emil's diary for Tuesday, January 21, 1947:
Tick-tock, tick-tock -- damn that merciless clock!
Waiting, waiting, almost painfully waiting for that "call" from Columbia studios all day! At least it seemed all day, for by the time it finally came at about 2 P. M. I was highly anxious. What with Howard Nichols to pester me impatiently every few minutes "to hurry up," I was in a frenzy.
Just as soon as I arrived on Stage X at Columbia ranch I was being called before the cameras. I had to adjust my tie & collar as the director yelled "action" for a rehearsal.
After a good dousing with a fire-extinguisher by Andy Clyde I was ready to go home. For this my salary today is $75.00.
Of course, I come back tomorrow for the biggest part of my role has to be shot.
Certainly I love working in comedies, especially these kind. Every foot of film must be a laugh, or a build-up for a gag that leads to a laugh. And most laughs in these two-reelers are aimed for the belly regions! And that's where I like to hit my earth-inhabitants, with laugh-gas!
Andy Clyde always makes me think of his wise decision early in his career to keep his creation of the "old man" he does so well.
Dick Wessel, it should be noted, did one of his most hilarious roles in this film. Wessel, who always gave a solid performance, is outstanding as the free-loading playboy brother-in-law that causes all the trouble and tries to burn the incriminating evidence.
Emil's diary for his second day on the job in WIFE TO SPARE, Wednesday, January 22, 1947:
A day (until about 2:30 P. M., that is) at Columbia Ranch in Andy Clyde's latest two-reel comedy!
Now here's one of those funny things about pictures.
I was summoned immediately, in full and articulate dress, with perfectly groomed make-up, to appear as the dignified Lawyer "Mr. Pratt" in a scene with Andy and the rest.
It is the scene where I get doused again with a fire-extinguisher, but completely, and again for a close-up! Then I'm given another identical outfit of clothes to get into for my next scenes, which now will be those preceding the one just made!
It's all fun and fascinating for me, though. And even though from the beginning Ed Bernds told me to play "straight" I still wound up making an "eccentric" out of the role. How could I help it? I end up with a bucket over my head in a heap of other people in the end.
It was today, while waiting for a new set-up, that Ed Bernds introduced my to a director of feature pictures, Arthur Dreifuss. He told me that at Columbia they say I'm "good" and to come see him at Darmour Studio. This makes me very happy.
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WIFE TO SPARE (1947)