While visiting Paris in 1908, upper class Lord Burnstead loses his butler playing poker. Egbert and Effie Floud bring Ruggles back to Red Gap, Washington. Effie wants to take advantage of Ruggles' upper class background to influence Egbert's hick lifestyle. However, Egbert is more interested in partying and he takes Ruggles to the local 'beer bust'. When word gets out that "Colonel Ruggles is staying with his close friends" in the local paper, the butler becomes a town celebrity. After befriending Mrs. Judson, a widow who he impresses with his culinary skills, Ruggles decides to strike out on his own and open a restaurant. His transition from servant to independent man will depend on its success. Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Ruggles and Prunella are looking at the rough and cluttered store space that Ruggles will use for his restaurant]
It's a mess isn't it?
Well, I don't see anything wonderful about it.
You don't? My father was a gentleman's gentleman... and his father before him. And from that heritage of service miraculously there comes a man. A person of importance, however small. A man whose decisions and whose future are in his own hands.
It's wonderful, isn't it?
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It's my favorite movie. I love it beyond all reason. I have it on VHS (need DVD NOW!) as well as a still reproduction of Charles Laughton in the title role. I named one of my cats Ruggles. In other words, my recommendation is high! That said, I don't want to oversell it. While it contains some admirable themes about throwing off tradition and becoming your own person, it's above all a charming character comedy distinguished by Leo McCarey's signature style of improvisatory naturalism (particularly in comparison to the usual run of mainstream fare). Jean Renoir's famous quote about McCarey being one of the few directors who understood human beings (or words to that effect) is made clear here.
While there's plenty of broad humor, my favorite scenes involve smaller, character-centered moments, such as the sly little courtship scene in which a piano-playing Leila Hyams coaches a smitten Roland Young as he attempts to accompany her on drums.
It's full of colorful characters, priceless dialogue and emotionally involving story arcs. Seek it out -- if you like it one-tenth as much as I do, you'll consider your time well spent.
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