In order to be permitted to appear in "prestige" items like Grapes of Wrath
and The Ox-Bow Incident
, Henry Fonda
had to agree to appear in such inconsequential fluff as The Magnificent Dope
. On its own terms, however, this gentle satire of the "Dale Carnegie" school of self-help is pretty funny. Don Ameche
plays Dwight Dawson, the owner of a success school which isn't all that successful. Dawson's secretary-sweetheart, Claire Harris (Lynn Bari
), suggests a publicity stunt which might improve business -- if Dawson can make a success out of the laziest man in America, the world will beat a path to his door. After an extensive search, the perfect candidate for Dawson's academy is found: cheerful, laid-back country boy Tad Page, who prefers happiness and serenity to hard work and wealth. In true "reverse procedure" tradition, it is Tad's take-it-easy philosophy, rather than Dawson's "get up and go" dictum, that eventually wins the hearts of the American public. Fourth-billed Edward Everett Horton
has little to do other than his inimitable double takes, one of which amusingly closes the picture.