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Edward H. Griffith
Edward Everett Horton
Jim's father wants to marry Eugenia, but her sister Netta refuses to allow it. When Jim sees Ann at a club, he falls for her even though she is with Lord Priory. He meets her the next day at the riding path, but she quickly loses him. He searches all over for her, not knowing that his father's hopeful fiancée is her Aunt. As his caricature work suffers as he searches, he is fired from his paper. But he makes a comeback with the comics 'Rags to Riches' which is based upon the Nett's. But this upsets the Nett's so much that they go back to New York, and he follows, being careful not to let them know that he is the one who draws the strip that parodies them. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Madge Evans's name appears on a theater marquee in a montage sequence within the movie. She was starring with Cyril Ritchard in a West End play whose name was partially obscured in the film. See more »
Getting the spirit of Pelham Granville Wodehouse right!
When one reads Wodehouse novels and short stories one is in a world of gentlemen's clubs, social lion aunts and tyrannical mothers, henpecked husbands, merchants who are overly proud of their products (in one short story the rich uncle deals in jute and has a house decorated in models of birds made out of his product), would-be dictators of England who have family fortunes based on woman's lingerie, Earls who are more concerned about prize winning pigs than propriety, bartenders who have funds of stories to illustrate life with, butlers who are smarter than the aristocrats around them, idiot scions of noble houses who convince their potential in-laws of their good intentions by swallowing dog biscuits (which the in-laws manufacture), brilliant social tacticians whose schemes always come apart at the end, and golf lovers - always golf lovers. You rarely find a comment on the real world - the nobleman who made money from ladies underwear was an exception (a satire on Sir Oswald Mosley). But his variations on the artificial world of the rich and the powerful works a charm to this day. Unlike so many of his contemporary fellow novelists his works are still largely in print (mostly through the British publisher Penguin). And Wodehouse wrote over 100 books!
It is a great formula, but it can be spoiled. Arthur Treacher played Jeeves, the great butler, in two forgettable comedies in the 1930s (one with David Niven as Bertie Wooster) did not make a great impression due to poor productions. But a film like A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS or this version of PICADILLY JIM shows how it's done properly. The characters are not arch or overdone - but they all take themselves seriously. Montgomery is a night person, enjoying the nightclubs and such. But he does remember to have a caricature ready for his newspaper, folded in the pocket of his coat. Eric Blore is the perfect butler, trying to awaken his employer using bird calls (a talent he would also display with amusing results in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER). But he is intelligent and loyal. When Cora Witherspoon's Mrs. Pett makes a sneering comment on Jim's formidable abilities as a caricaturist (as opposed to a real artist like Leonardo or Raphael), Blore's butler Bayliss boils over and rattles off a list of great artists who were gifted caricaturists, such as Daumier and Thomas Nast, and ending with Goya. Frank Morgan has not performed on stage in 20 years, but he is proud of his greatest role - as Osric in Hamlet (Peter Cushing in the Olivier film, and Robin Williams in Keneth Branagh's version). He uses it (successfully) to fool the Petts into accepting him into their family, while he secretly romances Mrs. Pett's younger sister (Billie Burke - the only one who realizes the truth in the masquerade).
In Wodehouse the road to love is never easy. Robert Montgomery makes a successful comic strip out of the Pett family (Witherspoon, Grant Mitchell, and Tommy Bupp) in revenge for their snootiness (actually it is the snootiness of Witherspoon - she thinks Morgan is a fortune hunter, and Mitchell is her henpecked husband who goes along with her; the boy Ogden Pett is one of those obnoxious kids in Wodehouse who enliven his books - actually Ogden is thoughtless and rude, but he actually thinks it's cool that he's in a comic strip). Montgomery learns that Madge Blake, the woman he loves, is angry at the comic strip and it's artist. He has to try to undue the damage his successful strip has done to try to win Madge back.
The film is a sparkling little drink of champagne, which the best of Wodehouse usually is. It's nice to see that for a change, Hollywood got the literary property's spirit right.
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