See My Lawyer

Biltmore Theatre / Nov. 27, 1939

- pg.s 5-6, 7-8 missing -

(starring Milton Berle / 224 performances)

See My Lawyer opened Sept. 27, 1939 and ran through April 6, 1940 at the Biltmore Theatre.

from TIME Magazine / The Theatre / Monday, Oct. 9, 1939

"See My Lawyer (by Richard Maibaum & Harry Clork; produced by George Abbott) is one of those athletic farces which have the delicacy of a subpoena and the subtlety of an alarm clock. A firm of young lawyers ready for the poorhouse ropes in a millionaire playboy overripe for the asylum. As the gilded nitwit is continuously prankish. He pours gin into milk bottles, steals peek-machines from penny arcades, drives his car up & down freight elevators, ties up girls on billiard tables. The firm of Lee, Russo & O'Rourke enjoys a continuous revenue, for a time. Then the screwball Tom (Eddie Nugent) makes off with Lawyer Lee's fiancee, and the riot is on.

See My Lawyer bongs and clatters like a bowling alley, but instead of ripping off strikes & spares, the pins go down only two or three at a time, and the pin boys are much too slow in setting them up again. The show has laughs, but never (as a farce must) piles up its laughter; everybody works a little too hard, tries to be a little too crazy. It's the old George Abbott formula minus the old George Abbott form: quite a drop from the headlong days of Three Men on a Horse and Room Service, when in the world of farce, the Abbotts spoke only to God.

Freely mentioned as the inspiration for the crackpot playboy is four-times married, asbestos-protected Tommy Manville. After witnessing the opening performance of See My Lawyer, Manville went on to a nightclub. There, reported spry Columnist Leonard Lyons, Manville encountered Actor Nugent, and putting his arms around Nugent's shoulders, murmured: "Thank you so much for not having made me out a ridiculous character!"

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