Although the silent W.C. Fields vehicle Two Flaming Youths no longer exists, a surviving script (titled Side Show) offers a tantalizing peek at this long-lost effort. Fields is cast as Gabby Gilfoil, owner of "Gilfoil's Nonpareil Circus," a dog-and-pony operation that must forever stay one step ahead of sheriffs and creditors. Fleeing across the border to Arkosa county, Gabby and his entourage stop over at the Mansion House, a near-bankrupt hotel run by Madge Marlarkey (Cissie Fitzgerald). To avoid paying his bill, Gabby pays court to Madge, only to find a formidable rival in Sheriff Ben Holden (Chester Conklin). Meanwhile, Gabby's daughter Mary (Mary Brian) is romanced by Holden's young cousin Tony (Jack Luden). Mary decides to settle down in Arkosa with Tony, prompting Gabby to pop the question to Madge -- but she has announced that she will marry the man who is able to pay her mortgage. Gabby and Holden spend the rest of the picture trying to raise the necessary funds to wed Madge, an effort complicated when Gabby is mistaken for a desperate criminal. A collection of themes and comic notions that would later be refined in such Fields talkies as The Old Fashioned Way and You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, Two Flaming Youths would be worth seeing again if only to watch the glittering parade of "guest stars," all of them vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood headliners: Clark and McCullough, Moran and Mack, Kolb and Dill, Savoy and Brennan, Benny and McNulty, Phil Baker and Sid Silvers, Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton, Jack Pearl and Ben Bard, and The Duncan Sisters.
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