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It's a Boy (1933)

 -  Comedy  -  7 June 1934 (USA)
6.2
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Horton is about to be married when he's confronted by a blackmailer claiming to be his long-lost illegitimate son. The best man sets out to prove that the allegations are false. Produced by Michael Balcon.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Leslie Henson ...
James Skippett
Albert Burdon ...
Joe Piper
...
Dudley Leake
Heather Thatcher ...
Anita Gunn
Alfred Drayton ...
Eustace Bogle
Robertson Hare ...
Allister
Wendy Barrie ...
Mary Bogle
Helen Haye ...
Mrs. Bogle
Joyce Kirby ...
Lillian
J.H. Roberts ...
Registrar
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Storyline

Horton is about to be married when he's confronted by a blackmailer claiming to be his long-lost illegitimate son. The best man sets out to prove that the allegations are false. Produced by Michael Balcon.

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7 June 1934 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Heather Thatcher! None can match her!
14 June 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The American character actor Edward Everett Horton had the sort of precise, well-modulated diction which American audiences tend to mistake for an upper-class English accent. In "It's a Boy", Horton actually plays an Englishman. Even more amazingly, he does so in a British film (from the splendid Gainsborough Pictures) made by producers who had their pick of genuine English actors. Presumably, Horton's presence here was intended to make this British movie more attractive to American audiences. The movie's director (Tim Whelan, who helmed several excellent English films) is also American, although this fact was unlikely to matter to American filmgoers.

"It's a Boy" stars Horton as Dudley Leake, who is betrothed to Mary Bogle (the very pretty Wendy Barrie). Shortly before the wedding, Dudley blurts a confession to his friend and best man, Jim Skippett: 20 years ago, Dudley had a brief affair with a certain Miss Piper, but he's never heard from her since then.

Next day, who should suddenly appear? A youth about 19 or 20 years old, claiming to be named Joe Piper. Is he Horton's son, or is Skippett playing a practical joke? What will Mary say when she finds out that Dudley Leake has leaked on a previous occasion?

"It's a Boy" is funny, but not nearly so funny as it ought to be. Part of the problem is that Joe Piper (supposedly the son of the character portrayed by Horton) is played by an actor who doesn't resemble Edward Everett Horton at all. Also, Horton's characterisation here as Dudley Leake comes very close to the fussbudget 'nelly' character he played in so many Hollywood films, which makes it somewhat implausible that Leake would be in this particular situation. There's one sequence which I found especially wince-worthy, when male actor Leslie Henson dons a makeshift bridal train and links arms with a very discomfited Horton ... as if the two men were bride and groom.

The English character actress Heather Thatcher was one of those rare actresses who could be funny and sexy at the same time. The tall blonde Miss Thatcher was gawky, beak-nosed, often cast in unattractive roles, yet I find her extremely compelling on screen and she's always a joy. In "It's a Boy", she gives an hilarious performance as a novelist named Anita Ginn (geddit?). To complicate matters, her character writes under a male pseudonym ... and her male identity inevitably intrudes into this movie's farcical proceedings.

Dudley Leake's prospective father-in-law (well-played by Alfred Drayton) rejoices in the name Eustace Bogle. This sounds like the monicker of a character in a W.C. Fields movie. I kept hoping this movie would reach the glorious heights of hilarity and surrealist humour that were typical for W.C. Fields. Alas, no.

I'll rate "It's a Boy" 6 out of 10. Edward Everett Horton was never one of my favourite character actors, but he works hard here ... and he and the delightful Heather Thatcher play off each other very capably.


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