The Yellow Cab Man (1950)


Jack Donohue

Pirdy is accident prone. He has been denied insurance from every company in town because he is always getting hit or hurt in some way. On the day that he meets the lovely Ellen of the Yellow Cab Co., he also meets the crooked lawyer named Creavy. Pirdy is an inventor and when Creavy learns about elastic-glass, his new invention, he makes plans to steal the process. With the help of another con man named Doksteader, and the boys, he will steal this million dollar invention no matter who gets hurt.


One of his best

Author: magicalmouse from Cuyahoga Falls, OH
2 May 2004

I think that so many people only think of Red Skelton from TV and I think they forget that he did movies and in fact very funny movies. I scrounged around until I could find most of them on VHS but now I long for a good DVD set. The Yellow Cab Man has got to be my favorite, I laugh so hard at parts of it that I have to actually pause the film so that I can catch my breath. I usually don’t care that much for physical comedy but he and Danny Kaye seem to be the masters of the art and their movies have me rolling on the floor every time. The plot in here is really not that great but it is just what is done with a simple idea -A nice guy that is totally accident prone trying to be a cab driver and show his new invention. Just wind Red up and let him loose.


Skelton Was Always Better Than his Movie Material

Author: drednm from United States
20 July 2005

And The Yellow Cab Man is a good example. Fitfully funny comedy has Skelton playing his usual bumbler, this time an inventor and cab driver. Most of the funny bits here belong to Skelton, but Walter Slezak has a few nice bits too. Storyline has Skelton inventing bendable glass and a crew of crooks after him for the formula. Edward Arnold is the ringleader. Gloria DeHaven is a blah leading lady here. James Gleason, Paul Harvey, Polly Moran, Herbert Anderson (billed here as Guy and later on TV as Gus), Jay C. Flippen, Charles Lane, Jody Gilbert, Dewey Robinson, and Tiny Jones co-star. The IMDb lists Mae Clarke, but I never spotted her. Arnold is his blustery self, and Slezak was always a terrific comic villain. The finale is memorable, coming out just before Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” but with similar use of a carousel (in this case a rotating house). Skelton did better on TV, but his film career of 20 years or so (not counting cameos) was not inconsiderable. Skelton worked mostly for MGM, certainly not a studio known for its comedies. He might have fared better at a “lesser” studio. The film is notable also for its plethora of ugly DeSoto taxi cabs!


Interesting Facts..

This film marked Richard Goldstone’s debut as an M-G-M producer. According to a Nov 1948 HR news item, Harry Ruskin was originally set to produce the film. The distortion effect sequence in the film was created by renowned press photographer Weegee (the adopted nickname of Arthur H. Fellig), who also appears in a bit role as a cab driver. According to an Apr 1949 HR news item, Jimmy Durante was set to play a veteran cab driver in the film. An Aug 1949 HR news item lists Jill Donohue in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The film marked the final screen appearance of stage and screen actress Polly Moran, who began her film career in the silent era and who co-starred in several M-G-M comedies with Marie Dressler. Moran died in 1952 (AFI).


A Skelton Romp

2 November 2007 | by dougdoepke (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Some belly laughs in this Skelton madcap. As usual Red plays a good-hearted schlemiel who stumbles from one mishap to the next, but somehow muddles through to win the girl (Gloria DeHaven) and the climax. Here he’s an amateur inventor and Yellow Cab man battling veteran baddies Walter Slezak and Edward Arnold.

A great job by the writers. The comedy set-ups are consistently funny and inventive from the mine-field opening of Red walking down the street to the whirlwind close at the L A Home Show . (Forget the muddled story-line which is just a handy post to hang the hi-jinks on.) This was just the kind of slapstick that Skelton could turn into a wild and crazy romp, and he does. .

Catch the great comedic architecture in the early sequence that builds hilariously from the baby-sitting beginning to the nine-one-one close. Too bad this kind of engineering has largely disappeared from today’s movie screen. Then too, the crib scene with Red playing both his toddler self and infant sister amounts to 60 second knee-slapper.


In fact, there are a number of special effects scenes that work up more than a few chuckles. But the North Pole dream has something of a nightmarish undercurrent as does Red’s getting shoved into the mixer.

I guess my only complaints are the cheapness of the street sets and the dull-grayish quality of the filming (at least, in my copy). Coming from big-budget MGM, such cost-cutters affecting overall quality seem surprising.

Nonetheless, this is a fine little post-war flick whose futuristic house at the Home Show expresses something of the surging spirit of a 1950’s America then on the economic upswing.

Elastic Glass

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
4 August 2016

The Yellow Cab Man is another of Red Skelton’s madcap big screen comedies where Red plays an eccentric inventor who is also accident prone. So accident prone is he that he can’t get insurance no way, no how. So what does he become in lieu of a modest settlement and for signing a quitclaim given him by agent Gloria DeHaven, a cabdriver for the Yellow Cab company.

Because of his tendency for the unfortunate, Red’s invented himself a version of plexiglass, a shatter proof glass he calls elastic glass. Can’t break it short of a bullet being fired into it. But he hasn’t copyrighted the formula. And some unscrupulous people led by bottom feeding shyster lawyer Edward Arnold and medicine show charlatan Walter Slezak will do anything to steal the formula.


Red’s a true babe in the woods in this film, but it’s amazing how schnooks like him get some really good looking women to fall for him like Gloria DeHaven. Arnold and Slezak look like they’re having a great old time. Usually both of them when they play villains exude a quiet menace, but here they are both outrageously overacting and the audience joins in on the fun.

The Yellow Cab Man is a treat for Red Skelton’s legion of fans.


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