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William A. Wellman
Successful wealthy shoe manufacturer John Reeves takes a vacation, leaving his business in the hands of his nephew. While on vacation Reeves runs into his rival's heirs, who are living it up on their dead father's money. He doesn't tell them who he is and gets placed as their trustee. He uses the chance to reorganize their shoe company, becoming a rival to his own nephew. The ne'er-do-wells settle down and become involved in the business. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
A masterful comedy with George Arliss winning one for the older folks.
I've always immensely enjoyed comedies involving deception of sorts, where the audience is in on who a person really is, while most of the cast in the movie are not (The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) comes to mind as an example). This film is one of the best of that type, with wealthy shoe manufacturer George Arliss overhearing his nephew (Hardie Albright) saying he should retire so he can run the business and do it better. A little angry, Arliss goes on a fishing vacation to Maine where his old buddy J. Farrell MacDonald lives, and quite by accident meets up with the heirs (Bette Davis and Theodore Newton) of his chief competitor, who had just died. Arliss uses an alias, and they think he is somewhat of a bum when they take him back to New York with them because of a minor injury to his hand. There Arliss sees the sorry state their finances are in and how their shoe plant is purposely being run down by Gordon Westcott, who wants to buy it at a cheap price. Arliss somehow convinces the trustees of the estate to make him Davis' and Newton's guardian, and the fireworks begin as he takes charge of his competitor's shoe plant. Only MacDonald knows who he really is, and he keeps Arliss informed about any mail sent by Albright, who thinks he still is on vacation in Maine. So Arliss plays both ends against the middle, so to speak, and in the process teaches Davis, Newton and Albright a thing or two about life and business.
The real joy in the film is the very clever screenplay, but George Arliss is also terrific in the lead, with Davis and Newton not far behind. Arliss knew the role well having done it in the 1924 silent called "$20 a Week." And Gordon Westcott makes a good heavy. This is a very underrated gem of a comedy.
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