The Man in Possession (1931)

Passed  |   |  Comedy  |  4 July 1931 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 173 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 3 critic

A charming bailiff's assistant poses as a young woman's butler until she can pay her debts.




(from the play by), (screen adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Charlotte Greenwood ...
Irene Purcell ...
Beryl Mercer ...
Mrs. Dabney
Maude Eburne ...
Forrester Harvey ...
A Bailiff
Yorke Sherwood ...
A Butcher


Recently released from jail, Raymond Dabney is the black sheep of his family. His father and brother want him out of England and out of their hair. Only his mother seems to harbor some affection for him. Looking for work in London, Raymond gets a job assisting a bailiff in collecting debts. Crystal Wetherby, a lovely young woman living outside her means, hopes to romance a wealthy man in order to pay her bills. When the bailiff shows up at her house with a writ, Raymond is left behind, taking possession of the house and everything in it as an official representative of the Crown. Until Crystal can pay her debt, Raymond will stay in her house and keep an eye on things, a rather unwelcome guest. Encouraged to be courteous and offer domestic assistance in his awkward duty, Raymond agrees to act as Crystal's butler. As butler, Raymond is surprised to learn that Crystal's fiancé is his brother Claude. Raymond's interference seems to ruin Crystal's chances with both Claude and Sir Charles ... Written by Jimmy L.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 July 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Con el agua al cuello  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Remade in 1937 with Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor as "Personal Property." See more »


Clara: Are you trying to be funny?
Raymond Dabney: Yes.
Clara: Try harder.
See more »


Version of Personal Property (1937) See more »


(1923) (uncredited)
Music by Rudolf Friml
Played on piano by Robert Montgomery
See more »

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User Reviews

A Movie In Possession of Two Fine Comedy Stars
18 February 2000 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

A penniless society girl living by her wits finds herself falling in love with the handsome sheriff's man sent to keep an eye on her belongings. What will happen if one of her suitors discovers that the fellow masquerading as her butler is both her lover and THE MAN IN POSSESSION?

This is a pleasant little drawing-room comedy which spotlights two stars of the past in serious peril of becoming forgotten. Robert Montgomery was both dashing & debonair. He handles the title role with much natural charm. Long-legged Charlotte Greenwood is a delight. Her delivery & timing are as fresh as today's coffee.

The rest of the cast is equally good: lovely Irene Purcell; sweet, elderly Beryl Mercer; plus Reginald Owen & Alan Mowbray as a couple of pompous twits. Sir C. Aubrey Smith is excellent as Montgomery's gruff, blustery father. As he normally played roles of great dignity, it is tremendous fun here to see his reaction when a platter of parsnips & gravy is smashed into his vest.

This is very defiantly a pre-Production Code comedy - Montgomery & Purcell go to bed together only hours after meeting. The sight of Purcell's torn chemise lying at the foot of her bed would never have been allowed a few years later.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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