WriterIlya Ilf, Yevgeni Petrov, Jay Dratler, Alma Reville, Morrie Ryskind Release date21 April 1945 CastFred Allen (Fred F. Trumble Floogle), Jack Benny (Jack Benny), Don Ameche (Don Ameche), William Bendix (Himself - Guest Star), Victor Moore (Victor Moore), Rudy Vallée (Rudy Vallee) Similar moviesThe Twelve Chairs (1970)
It's in the Bag! is a 1945 comedy film featuring Fred Allen in his only starring film role. The film was released by United Artists at a time when Allen was at the peak of his fame as one of the most popular radio comedians. The film has been preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive.
A flea circus ringmaster (Allen), Fred Floogle, has strange encounters as he searches for his inheritance, hidden in the seat of one of five chairs.
The film is loosely based on the comic novel The Twelve Chairs (1928) of Ilf and Petrov, later filmed by Mel Brooks as The Twelve Chairs (1970). The team of screenwriters included Jay Dratler, Alma Reville (wife of Alfred Hitchcock) and Morrie Ryskind.
Binnie Barnes plays Mrs. Floogle.
Cameo roles are filled by other radio actors who had already, or were beginning to, become known in movies, including Don Ameche, Rudy Vallee, William Bendix, Jerry Colonna, Robert Benchley, John Carradine, Sidney Toler.
For classic radio fans, the highlight of the film will be Floogle's encounter with Jack Benny, who at the time was involved with Allen in their famous 'feud', which ran for over a decade.
There is an alternate version of the film where Allen's voice periodically breaks in on the action with wisecracks a la the opening credits. This version obscures some of the on-screen dialogue, including the punchline. This version has aired on AMC.
At the time of its release in 1945, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times said aside from Mr. Allen's comments on the credits at the beginning of the film, which are superlative spoofing and recommended to everyone, it was a "dizzy, bewildering picture" and "this rat's nest of nonsense defied the sober description of a comparatively rational mind".
A more recent 3 out of 4 star favorable review by Leonard Maltin says "Story similar to THE TWELVE CHAIRS with flea-circus promoter Allen entitled to inheritance; plot soon goes out the window in favor of unrelated but amusing episodes, including hilarious encounter between Allen and Benny."