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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
Anytime one sees P.G. Wodehouse's name in the opening credits as a contributing writer, one should know that one is in for a good time. When the star of the piece is the always charming Robert Montgomery, it's a dead cert.
It is a shame that so few Montgomery vehicles are available on VHS and especially on DVD. He always appears to be having the best time of anyone on screen. No one could convey quite so insouciant an air, or had quite so charming and boyish a smile. Montgomery uses both attributes to great effect in this film, in which he plays the disgraced son of a haute-bourgeois family who ends up, through a series of complex machinations, posing as the butler in the household of his estranged brother's fiancée (played to great effect by the very lovely Irene Purcell).
The supporting cast is stellar as well, with the acerbic Charlotte Greenwood as the fiancée's maid and partner in poverty (not the fiancée herself, as another reviewer has stated), the foppish Reginald Owen as Montgomery's brother and Purcell's fiancé, a wonderfully gruff C. Aubrey Smith as Montgomery's father, and the always entertaining Alan Mowbray as the smarmy Sir Charles.
The plot is lighter than air, and would float away completely were it not anchored by this very talented cast. The happy ending given to the two admitted bounders (Montgomery and Purcell) is one that could only have occurred before the enforcement of the Hays Code, when charm was considered more meritorious than virtue. Hear, hear!
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