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The Man in Possession (1931)

Passed  |   |  Comedy  |  4 July 1931 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 172 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?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on August 12, 1935 with Robert Montgomery reprising his film role. 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

Stellar cast led by Robert Montgomery puts across a fine farce
19 June 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Man in Possession" is a very good farce. The cast is excellent at comedy, and they are well-directed.

Robert Montgomery, fresh out of jail for a financial episode, is unwelcome by his father (C. Aubrey Smith) and brother (Reginald Owen). His mom (Beryl Mercer) is much more understanding. Owen is angling to marry into Irene Purcell's money, or so he thinks. Kicked out by his father, Montgomery lands a job as a sheriff's guard accompanying a bailiff. He finds himself staying at Purcell's home until she pays a debt she owes. She has no money. Purcell's maid is the severe yet comic Charlotte Greenwood.

The sparks fly between Montgomery and Purcell, but they really fly when Smith, Owen and Mercer show up for dinner. By then, Montgomery is posing as butler. Adding complication, the wealthy Alan Mowbray is pursuing Purcell.

Montgomery is truthful in everything he says to anyone, and that's key to the comedy, for he is still following a path of information revelation in his conversations and answers that achieves his goal, which is to capture Purcell for himself. Very clever writing of his part comes through all the way as he manipulates almost everyone.

We know what the players don't all know, which makes for fun.

MGM was using theatrical material at this time and it did well by it and by us.

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