Cast & Crew
In 1902, in England, Charles and Isabel live on a country estate with their six-year-old son. Charles is constantly irritated by the inebriated behavior of Willie, his sister-in-law Kate's husband. Matters come to a head when Frank, Charles's brother, announces that Virginia Van Stuyden, his intended fiancée, will soon be visiting. Virginia is from a prominent American family and Charles is concerned that Willie, regarded as the black sheep of the family, could cause them considerable embarrassment. After the irascible Charles summons all the family members to a conference, they decide that Willie needs an interest in life and agree to set him up in a business. When Charles declines to buy Willie a Public House, Willie decides, with prompting from Charles's son, that he would like to open a bicycle shop. Later, after the servants have prepared the house in preparation for Virginia's arrival, Charles receives a letter from Frank, in Paris, thanking Charles and Isabel for offering to accommodate Virginia, but advising them that, as it is imperative that he make a good impression, he has arranged for her to stay with local dignitaries Sir George and Lady Probus. Sir George, a fervent teetotaler, and his wife meet Frank and Virginia at the railway station and take them in their horse-drawn carriage to their mansion. The following day, Willie opens his shop and is visited by Charles' son, who notices that the office has a well-stocked cabinet of "medicinal supplies." Unaware of Willie's new venture, Frank brings Virginia to the shop to buy her a bicycle. After being introduced to Virginia, Willie advises her not to permit his family to become involved in organizing their marriage. Frank and Virginia buy a tandem bicycle, but Charles's son is disappointed that there are no bikes for boys of his size. Later, after a bicycling craze has engulfed the family, Virginia suggests that they all go on a bicycling picnic to the seaside. Charles, who considers the bicycle only slightly less annoying than his newly-installed telephone, agrees to go with Isabel and his son in their horse-drawn carriage. The outing is a disaster when Willie, who is supposed to be bringing the food and drink, fails to arrive and a thunderstorm drenches the group. When they return to Kate's house, they discover that Willie and a drinking mate have had their own picnic. The next night, Charles's son, confined to bed with a cold, sneaks out of the house to go to a fair, which Frank, Virginia and Willie are attending. The boy becomes alarmed when a magician "turns" his uncle into a rabbit, which then escapes, and becomes the object of a search throughout the fair grounds. Sir George, who feels responsible for Virginia, criticizes Frank for taking her to this low-class entertainment and forbids him to see her again. Virginia is dismayed when Frank does not stand up for himself and regards him as a weakling. Later, Frank asks Charles to intervene on his behalf and help him win Virginia back, but Charles bungles the assignment. Meanwhile, Willie has acquired a bicycle suitable for Charles's son, but needs Charles's approval to give it to him. Although Charles complains that bicycling is a low form of entertainment and swears that he will never be seen riding one, he receives a bicycle as a birthday gift from Isabel. Insulted that Willie has arranged bicycle lessons for him, Charles cycles off, barely in control, and ends up in the village pond. Dr. Mason confines him to bed for a week, to be followed by a visit to the Pinetop Hydro in Exmoor, a hotel that caters to people seeking health through curative waters. Although his business is a success, Willie has recently resumed drinking and has begun to see imaginary dogs, so Dr. Mason recommends that he also go to the hydro and follow a milk diet. Meanwhile, Virginia has quarreled with Sir George and asks Kate if she can stay with her until she can arrange passage home. Kate invites her to join them at Exmoor, not realizing that Frank is joining Charles, Isabel and the boy there. When Frank sees Virginia he pursues her out of the spa into the grounds. After Willie spots them and encourages Frank to elope, Frank deposits a protesting Virginia in the hydro owner's new autocar and, with a tipsy Willie at the wheel, they head for the railway station. Willie crashes into a wall and although he is uninjured, he is shaken enough to agree to lead a liquor-less life. Frank and Virginia make up and embrace. Later, Charles, Isabel, Kate and a newly sober Willie attend Frank and Virginia's wedding.
L. V. Clark
E. B. Jarvis
Harold V. King
A. J. Southgate
Although Eileen Herlie is listed above Cecil Parker in the opening credits, she is listed second in the closing credits. "Charles" and "Isabel's" son is unnamed in the film and is listed in the onscreen cast simply as "Little Boy." Throughout the film he comments directly to the audience on his family's behavior.
Documents in the MPAA/PCA file for the film in the AMPAS Library indicate that Allied Artists had a pre-production involvement in its making. When the film was released in Great Britain, under its original title of Isn't Life Wonderful!, the running time was given as eighty-three minutes. Although the film was passed by the New York State censors in 1954 under its British title, and was reviewed in The Exhibitor as Uncle Willie's Bicycle Shop, no other American reviews have been located and no American release date has been located.