THE MAGNIFICENT DOPE. 20th Century Fox, 1942. Henry Fonda, Lynn Bari, Don Ameche, Edward Everett Horton. Director: Walter Lang.

   I haven’t checked Lynn Bari’s filmography in detail, but I have a feeling that this is one of her relatively few big budget movies she’d made up to this point of time, 1942, and maybe even later. It’s a comedy-romance, and even with Henry Fonda as a goofy guy from Vermont come to the big city to be taken advantage of (a role at that time of his career he was born to play), it’s not all that funny.

   But perhaps it was in 1942. Funny, that is. Today the best it might be considered is amusing.

   Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

   Don Ameche plays Dwight Dawson, the smooth-talking head of a personal success school that’s floundering on the rocks and going down for the third time. Lynn Bari is his level-headed assistant (and steady girl friend) who comes up with a great ad campaign: to create a contest to find the laziest, least successful man in America, give him a check for $500 and a free course in the Dwight Dawson school, and make him a big success.

   You can probably take it from here: Henry Fonda accepts the check, refuses the course, but falls (secretly) in love with Lynn Bari, and decides maybe he needs to become a success after all.

   Question: Who changes who? Henry Fonda or the world of big business? Who gets the girl? Henry Fonda or Don Ameche?

   That’s what I thought. But to their credit, they all play their parts extremely well.