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The Great Garrick (1937)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  30 October 1937 (USA)
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The Great Garrick (Brian Aherne) is the most celebrated London theater actor of his day (eighteenth century) and is invited to Paris to star at the Comedie Francaise, the most important ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Melville Cooper ...
M. Picard
Luis Alberni ...
Marie Wilson ...
Linda Perry ...
Fritz Leiber ...
Etienne Girardot ...
Jean Cabot
Dorothy Tree ...
Mme. Moreau
Craig Reynolds ...
M. Janin
Paul Everton ...
Innkeeper of Adam and Eve
M. Noverre


The Great Garrick (Brian Aherne) is the most celebrated London theater actor of his day (eighteenth century) and is invited to Paris to star at the Comedie Francaise, the most important theatre in France. Before his departure for Paris he is mistakenly quoted as saying that he is 'going to France to teach the French how to act'. The Comedie Francaise actors and director hear about this and take this as a serious insult and thus plot to embarrass The Great Garrick when he gets to France with a great big prank. The Comedie Francaise troupe takes over an inn on Garrick's road to Paris where he spends the night. What the Comedie Francaise actors don't know is that The Great Garrick is in on the joke and just plays along. A wrench is thrown into the plot when a lone, lovely traveler (Olivia de Havilland who was later Aherne's sister-in-law), who is not part of the prank, shows up looking for a room at the inn that the Comedie Francaise troupe has taken over. Garrick treats her as though ... Written by Lisa Rome

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ladies and Gentlemen  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


(Sepiatone)| (Turner library print)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


'Henry O'Neill' is listed in studio records for the role "Sir Joshua Reynolds". Although the character is mentioned, he is not seen in the movie. See more »


There is a candelabra with full new candles in Garrick/ Germaine's room at the Adam and Eve Inn in the first Comedie Francaise sword fight. They are lopped off by the fighters. When the sword fighters come back the room to re-do the sword fight (a short time later) the candles have been restored to brand new. See more »

Crazy Credits

Rather than saying "Produced by Mervyn LeRoy" (although LeRoy was the producer, and not James Whale) the credits read "Personally Supervised by Mervyn LeRoy". See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Music by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
In the score when the Paris title is shown
See more »

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User Reviews

Underrated gem; perhaps the most overlooked classic of 1937
10 April 2003 | by (Ottawa) – See all my reviews

James Whale's "The Great Garrick" is perhaps the most overlooked classic of 1937, a year that also saw such classics as "Stage Door", "The Awful Truth", "Make Way for Tomorrow", "History is Made at Night", "Angel" and some others.

"Great Garrick" is a brazen but abundantly enthralling costume comedy on David Garrick, a Shakespearen ham actor and the most famous English actor of the 18th century. Garrick played a significant role in the development of English stage in this period which saw the rise of Shakespeare and other playwrights. Garrick had a reputation of enthralling his audiences on and off stage. Here in "Great Garrick", he is ingeniously played by Brian Aherne, a sadly underrated actor giving one of his most memorable performances. Aherne's co-stars include Olivia de Havilland as Garrick's love interest Germaine, Edward Everett Horton as Garrick's sidekick Tubby, Melville Cooper, Lionel Atwill, Lana Turner, and Luis Alberni.

Beautifully shot in stark black-and-white photography by Ernest Haller, "Great Garrick" is a nonstop laugh riot. The opening titles tell us, "David Garrick the actor was at the height of his fame. He was the idol of London and the tale we are now unfold is a romantic adventure that might have happened during the vividly gay career of the colourful Garrick". Garrick is just finishing playing "Hamlet" and makes a farewell curtain speech to the audience at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He has been invited to Paris by the Comédie Francaise, a famous French theatre which rivalled in fame London's Theatre Royal. To convince the audience he is not actually ditching them, he reads a blank letter telling them that he is going there to teach the French. In Paris, the actors of the Comédie Francaise hold an emergency meeting to discuss what they consider to be an insult. "Ridicule kills" says one of the actors. Thus, they perpetrate a series of hoaxes at an Adam and Eve inn near Paris where Garrick and his Tubby will be staying there before they arrive in Paris.

Some of the hoaxes are outrageously hammy and over-the-top, especially Luis Alberni's annoying Basset, but that doesn't really hurt the picture at all. There are genuine glories in "Great Garrick" and most important of all are Whale's inventive, stylized direction, Ernest Vajda's endlessly witty screenplay, and Aherne's quietly graceful incarnation of Garrick.

The film works as a companion piece to Whale's underrated 1936 musical "Show Boat" in that both films are entrancing and exuberant celebrations of the theatre. "Show Boat" concerns a group of traveling actors who are putting on a show; "Garrick" is bio-pic of a famous actor. Both films display the talent and versatility of a great director.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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