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 ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
In August, 1934, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer offered $5,000 for the screen rights to the 1917 novel Piccadilly Jim, first filmed in 1919. The remake was initially to be produced by then M-G-M producer David O. Selznick in early 1935, with songs provided by Harold Adamson and Burton Lane. Rowland Lee was assigned by Selznick to complete work on the screenplay, which was initially written by Robert Benchley. J. Walter Ruben was set to direct, and Chester Hale had prepared dances.
After two years of scripting by at least nine writers, the new version of PICCADILLY JIM became overlong, finally clocking at 100 minutes. One-time screenwriter Benchley joined the cast. Rather than a musical, PICCADILLY JIM turned into a vehicle for Robert Montgomery. As the title character, he was aptly cast, one of the few Hollywood comedians who could simultaneously play an Englishman who combined intelligent and "silly ass" traits. Equally appropriate were Eric Blore as his valet, Frank Morgan as his father (the elder Jim Crocker, an unemployed ham actor), and many of the supporting players. However, leading lady Madge Evans brought no sense of comedy to her role.
As adapted for film, the story concerned how father and son both fall in love, not with the same woman, but with related women, although neither knows this, and Jim initially does not yet even know Ann's last name. When Jim's father is rejected as a suitor by the arrogant in-laws, the son conceives of a comic strip, "From Rags to Riches," centered around the dictatorial mother, the henpecked husband, and their obnoxious son Ogden. (Unlike the novel, in the movie Jim's nickname derives from his skill as a caricaturist, more than his reputation for late London nights.) When the strip becomes a hit, it makes further romantic progress impossible, but contractually Jim must continue drawing it. The family can't remain in England because they are so widely recognized, so the Crockers pursue their beloved to America, father in disguise, and son by concealing his true identity. Jim gradually changes the characterizations in the comic strip to make the family proud of the association, until only Ann, the niece, resists him.
Little of this is from the book; the main thread in common is the Pett family, with its meek father and rambunctious child, the title character's newspaper experience, and a few brief chapters which become the middle third of the movie, in which Jim follows Ann on board a transatlantic ship, using the name of his butler and pretending he is his father. Many of the movie's elements which had appeared in the novel and were standard Wodehouse devices, such as the eccentric butler, the henpecked husband, and the use of disguise and masquerade, compounded by mistaken identity, were also typical conventions of 1930s romantic comedy. Genuinely amusing passages scattered throughout the film are finally overwhelmed by too many dull stretches. Although PICCADILLY JIM had potential, under the direction of Robert Z. Leonard (who had previously directed the estimable THE CARDBOARD LOVER) it fails to achieve the standard of many other more memorable comedies of the period. Nonetheless, this version of Piccadilly Jim, when compared with the 2004 remake, retains the spirit of Wodehouse, his tone and characterizations. The 1936 film is amusing and ideally cast, with a cast and crew who know how to make the brand of charming romantic comedy seemingly unique to that era. And despite its shortcomings, it succeeds in that regard, displaying the skills of the studio era that are so obviously absent in the confused 2004 version.
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