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The Man in Possession (1931)

Passed  -  Comedy  -  4 July 1931 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 162 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 3 critic

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

Director:

(uncredited)

Writers:

(from the play by), (screen adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Charlotte Greenwood ...
Clara
Irene Purcell ...
...
Beryl Mercer ...
Mrs. Dabney
...
...
Maude Eburne ...
Esther
Forrester Harvey ...
A Bailiff
Yorke Sherwood ...
A Butcher
Edit

Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 July 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Con el agua al cuello  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Quotes

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

Connections

Version of Personal Property (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Delightful
31 January 2006 | by (Planet Earth) – See all my reviews

You can't do much better than P.G. Wodehouse. Unless it's Robert Montgomery, who is both funny and sexy in this playful romp. Raymond is a Britisher just sprung from the stir for a "mixup about a car." His adoring mother is delighted to have him home, but his father and social-climbing brother want to pay him to leave the country so as to avoid the inevitable taint upon their names from association. Instead of taking their insulting offer, he gets a job as a sheriff's assistant, and his first job is to guard the belongings of a lady who owes many debts and is in danger of landing in the jug herself. Wouldn't you know it, it's the night her fiancé and his parents are coming to dinner. Dash the luck! Crystal's charm entices Raymond to pose as her butler instead of her jailer for the night. Of course, the fiancé is Raymond's boorish brother, who thinks he's landed the big bucks, and hilarity ensues.

The casting is perfect, from Charlotte Greenwood as the harried maid, Reginald Owen as the brother, C.Aubrey Smith as the blustering father to Irene Purcell as the sexy and enticing Crystal. It's a mystery to me why Montgomery isn't more of a household name. He was an MGM leading man with some of the most famous leading ladies - Garbo, Crawford, Shearer, Lombard, Loy - yet he's almost forgotten today. It's sometimes hard to see the sex appeal of stars from yesteryear, unless they have the kind of transcendent sexuality of a Gable or Harlow, but Montgomery had the boy-next-door quality of Jimmy Stewart AND the handsome suavity of Cary Grant all put together, and was a fine comedic actor.

Since this is a precode film, the sex is at least implied, as it absolutely would not be a few years later, or at least not without punishing the participants. Raymond and Crystal get intimate within hours of meeting, and apparently it was quite passionate, as the torn lingerie in several other posts suggests. As Crystal lies in sublime satisfaction the morning after, Raymond makes her breakfast, complete with rose and bacon spelling out "LOVE" on top of her eggs. Adorable with a capital A. Crystal's been living on her wits and the generosity of male benefactors for quite some time, so true love is a refreshing change. Both Raymond and Crystal are the kind of characters who would not go unpunished with the advent of the pointlessly moralistic production code in a few years, but here we get to enjoy two people who've made mistakes find each other and start anew.

Naughty double-entendres abound. Raymond's boss comes to the house to see how he's got on with the job, and says to the lady that he hopes she's had "satisfaction" while Montgomery's eyes roll suggestively.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Funny and touching, a chance to see how Hollywood did it right! You won't be disappointed.


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