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"Topper", the delightful and original film directed by Norman Z McLeod,
should be seen more often. It is one of the best things Hollywood ever
produced at the height of the madcap comedy craze of the thirties. In
fact, just to watch Roland Young, Constance Bennett and Cary Grant in
the same film is a dream come true.
"Topper" has always been an old time favorite. We were treated the other night to watching it again, courtesy of TCM. The film's great black and white cinematography by Norbert Brodine looks good, even after these many years.
Constance Bennett and Cary Grant made a fabulous couple. Ms. Bennett had the uncanny gift of blending with all her leading men well. She was a charming actress with such a sense of style and an amazing figure to boot that made her an irresistible presence on the screen. Cary Grant is also seen at his best in the film as the careless and fun loving George Kerby.
Roland Young, in our humble opinion, steals the show! He plays the staid banker Cosmo Topper, who is all business until he starts being made the object of the Kerby's antics. Cosmo Topper's wife is the incomparable Billie Burke, one of the most gracious actresses of that era.
The rest of the cast is not too shabby. Alan Mowbray, Eugene Palette, Ward Bond, Hoagy Carmichael, and as an extra, Lana Turner could be seen backing the principals with their usual elegance and enormous screen presence.
"Topper" is a film that should be "rediscovered" by new audiences, as it shows how great Hollywood could be when it wanted to be original. But above all, "Topper" should be seen for the fantastic Roland Young, who is nothing short of perfection in the film!
Cosmo TOPPER has his stuffy, henpecked life turned upside
by the interference of two recently deceased friends.
The folks at Hal Roach Studios fashioned this popular supernatural comedy. Intended to be at the opposite extreme from the typical ghost thriller, there are no sudden chills or eerie ectoplasms here--just lots of good humor and a few (well done) special effects.
Owlish Roland Young plays the bemused recipient of his dead friends' good deeds. No matter how drastically the intentions backfire, leading to arrest & scandal, Young remains a decent chap bent on regaining some equanimity in his life. (What is most impressive about his performance are his hilarious physical contortions when under the invisible influence of the ghosts.) Dear Billie Burke is wonderful, as usual, as Young's slightly bewildered wife, who has relinquished the role of lover to be mother hen to her husband -- hoping her control over him assures their acceptance by high society.
As the Kerbys--living and dead-- Constance Bennett & Cary Grant have plenty of star power & charm to spare and their spirits are certainly blithe, but a frank examination of their characters reveals some flaws. There is nothing funny about alcoholism or reckless driving, both of which contribute to their demise, and they are fortunate they kill only their own silly selves and not anyone else. That being said, they certainly do make a pair of great-looking spooks.
The rest of the cast adds to the fun: Alan Mowbray once again plays a butler with an attitude; young Arthur Lake appears as a hapless hotel employee; elegant Hedda Hopper does well with her single scene as an unstuffy society doyenne; J. Farrell MacDonald plays a no-nonsense cop; and corpulent Eugene Pallette has fun with his role as a suspicious hotel detective.
Composer Hoagy Carmichael appears as himself and Ward Bond plays a taxi driver, both uncredited.
This was the first of a 3-film series and was followed by TOPPER TAKES A TRIP (1939) and TOPPER RETURNS (1941).
Two stock holders in a bank that loved living it up, real posh social folk
used to living the life in the fast lane snag the BIG Detour, as their car
misses a hairpin turn and crashes killing both of them. They having
committed no particularly good or bad deed are in purgatory limbo
caught between heaven and, earth thus existing as ghosts
They are charged to do one good deed. With that the object on their road to salvation becomes their former banker and friend Cosmo P. Topper. Cosmo a quiet shy hen pecked little man of respect and dignity in social circles that count in his community has a trappy motherly sort of wife who has a funny voice that simply cannot be duplicated in this film.
The ghosts act to make Cosmo Topper a changed man a person more real more free and open which yet he still remained plenty respectable a person given by today's measures of morality given the standards of the world when this film was made. Cosmo is thrust unwillingly into one mad cap adventure after another until the poor dear was numb. He became more free simply because these two ghost unable to give up their wild party lifestyle dragged poor topper with them wherever they went.
That's not to say Topper was a hostage. Oh no far from it Cosmo Topper genuinely enjoyed his new found party life drinking pink ladies, a alcoholic drink swooshing down sliding boards to enter trendy night spots, watching floor shows oh Topper was living it up. Oh yes Topper was a reluctant but willing accomplice in his own undoing. As the party life went on a more and more disturbed Mrs. Cosmo P. Topper grew concerned as she watched her mouse of a grow in self confidence. I could tell you more of the plot but won't get it on VHS or DVD yourself its awesome.
I will say that the music is so totally hot in this movie providing you like big band music. Old Man Moon is Particularly good. The whole movie is sweet. It has a little mystery in it some intrigue but its always light and gay. The movie has what I consider a sweet tearjerker ending that is only really meaningful if you watch the film from beginning to end.
This film was a product of the HAL ROACH studios and, all the trick photography you saw in this film was all done in the camera via technical means. This was a real ground breaking bit of FX technology for its day. You also get to see the actor who played Dagwood Bumstead at a very early age as the elevator dude in this film. Mergatroids the man was still a pup.
I have this one in my collection and I treasure it. I love old movies more than most of the new stuff. This movie is just good clean innocent fun. If you want sex and, naked bodies thrust so close up into your face you can see their skin cells devide this movie is not for you. If ou like a fun movie that makes you laugh at snootty upper crust posh folk of a bygone era then this movie is all that. The time is set in the distant past by todays standards but zanny people never change see this movie for yourself to see why.
A dead couple is determined to loosen up their friend in "Topper," a
1937 comedy starring Constance Bennett, Cary Grant, Roland Young, and
Billie Burke. Cosmo Topper (Young) is a bank president whose wife
(Burke) has him on a strict schedule and, though unhappy, Cosmo
When bank stockholders George and Marion Kirby are killed when their car crashes into a tree, the two become worried about what St. Peter will have to say to them. They were, after all, two fun-loving, hard-drinking, partying kooks. They decide they must do a good deed before approaching the pearly gates so they make loosening up Topper their project.
This is a wonderful film that inspired the Leo G. Carroll TV series with real-life marrieds Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling as Marion and George. The special effects in the 1937 film are groundbreaking and ingenious. Mores have changed over the years - driving drunk is no longer acceptable. I'm afraid George and Marion would be heartily disapproved of today. Nevertheless, they're a gorgeous, glamorous couple and the real stuff of fantasy. Bennett only has a couple of years of big stardom left and, with his second billing, Cary Grant is still on the ascent. They're both hilariously madcap, Grant blasting into a stockholders' meeting and trying to take notes, and Bennett flirting with poor Topper in her silky voice.
Roland Young is the perfect Topper - henpecked, confused, and a nervous wreck. He's a man dying to break free of his shackles, and he's always envied George and Marion's lifestyle, even though it killed them. His frustration and unhappiness make him sympathetic, and the audience is with him all the way.
Very enjoyable, with some effects that were eye-popping in 1937. Don't miss "Topper." It's a classic.
Some great sight gags made this a big hit in its day, enough that two
sequels were made (although not nearly as good.)
Cary Grant and Constance Bennett certainly are a handsome leading couple but it's Roland Young, as "Cosmo Topper," who steals the show. He's a stiff old man who quickly loosens up and the transformation is fun to watch.
Bennett was a legitimate 1930s glamor girl who looks just great in here and pairs off well with the handsome Grant. The two of them also exhibit a good comedic touch. They had a lot to offer besides good looks. Even more handsome than those two was the automobile - wow, what a great-looking sports car! I''m glad to see other reviewers comment on it. It was awesome.
By the way, I know Hollywood liked to preach in some of these classic films that everyone gets into heaven, but this was "topped" them all. In here, the theology was that "all it takes is ONE good deed" during your lifetime.
With a fine cast and some good and occasionally impressive special
effect camera tricks, this is a decent fantasy feature. It makes its
main gimmick work well, while also telling a light but interesting
story about the main characters. The idea of ghosts returning to
interact with the living is a simple and familiar idea, but in this
movie it works pretty well.
Cary Grant is always entertaining in this kind of role, and Roland Young fit right into the role of "Topper" and made it his own, in this and the sequels. Constance Bennett gives a very lively and engaging performance that also drives much of the action. Billie Burke is well-cast as Topper's wife, and Eugene Palette makes very good use of his scenes as a grouchy hotel detective.
The 'ghost' effects are very good technically for their time, and they are used effectively in the story. There is a lot of variety in the various visual effects, and they show some clever ideas and careful planning. Only a couple of times do the seams show.
The story is kept very simple, probably by design, allowing the cast and the camera effects to carry the load. Although things move a little slowly at times, most of it is entertaining, and as light entertainment it works well.
Hysterical movie, great characters, and watch for ghosts carrying Roland Young through lobby of hotel. Plenty of social commentary -- totally politically incorrect. My all-time favorite comedy.
Influential box office hit finds a couple of free spirited, newly deceased ghosts inspiring a dull banker to live life to the fullest. The simple, straightforward story is given a fresh approach by a witty script and terrific performances from the entire cast - Roland Young is divine in an Oscar-nominated performance in the title role, and Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are terrific as the dearly-departed couple. The film was followed by two sequels, a long-running television series, a made-for-TV remake, and a whole slew of imitators - although none of which ever approached the quality of the original. A delightful good time that remains arguably the best supernatural comedy that Hollywood has ever produced.
Roland Young's portrayal of stuffy banker Cosmo Topper was so well
received that it spawned two sequel films and a television series
during the Fifties. It's a great example of that genre that was done
best in the Thirties, the screwball comedy.
Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are George and Marion Kerby, a pair of rich dizzy socialites for who life is a non-stop party. Every now and then we have to tend to business, such as Cary showing up for Board of Directors meeting of the bank where Roland Young is president.
One find day while driving at a high speed Cary totals his car and he and Constance wind up ectoplasm. Stuck between this world and the next Connie concludes that a good deed must be done if they're to gain entrance through the pearly gates. Who to bestow this good deed on, but Roland Young.
Though this is now classified as a Cary Grant film, Cary has a lot less to do here than either Bennett or Young. He has his moments, but it's really their show. Though physical consummation is impossible, Bennett and Young run off to a resort hotel for a wild fling. That sets the stage for a lot of physical type comedy which Bennett does well and Young is properly maintaining dignity at all costs.
Billie Burke plays Young's wife who doesn't quite know what to make of her husband's rebellion against their well ordered life. Butler Alan Mowbray is equally nonplussed. However the best performances here among the supporting cast are Eugene Palette as the house detective and Arthur Lake as a bellboy at that resort.
Topper is one of those films that probably could do with a remake. I can see Julia Roberts in Connie Bennett's part and possibly Tom Hanks in the Cary Grant role.
But they'd have to go some to beat this one.
Constance Bennett and Roland Young as superb in this charming comedy.
Cary Grant is in it too. George and Marion get killed in a car wreck
but hang around to change the life of stuffy banker, Cosmo Topper.
Nice performances by the stars and some OK 1937 special effects. Not quite a screwball comedy, but things get going toward the end. The film is rather too staid for the first hour.
Billie Burke is fun as are Eugene Palette and Arthur Lake. Alan Mowbray seems miscast. Virgina Sale is good as the secretary but Hedda Hopper is wasted.
I fondly remember the TV series but I imagine it doesn't hold up. This was a huge hit and helped establish Grant as a comedy star, revived Bennett's career, and put Young on the map with an Oscar nomination.
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