It's the 1930's. American sisters Eugenia Crocker and Nesta Pett are extremely wealthy and extremely competitive, with each disliking the other. Their latest quest of oneupsmanship has Nesta trying to marry off her niece by marriage, poetess turned crime novelist Ann Chester, to Lord Reginald Wisbeach, so that there will royalty in the family. This move is against Ann's wishes as she doesn't love the stuffy Lord. Meanwhile, Eugenia, now living in London, is trying to buy a royal title. Eugenia's current quest and others like it are always hindered by the notoriety of her stepson, James Crocker - better known as Piccadilly Jim, for the newspaper gossip column he used to write and the job from which he got fired - who is known as a womanizer, brawler, gambler and drunk. Jim is thinking about becoming more respectable when he meets and falls in love at first sight with a beautiful American visiting London. That woman is Ann, who hates what she knows of Jim, not only for that notoriety, ... Written by
There are not many actors whose appearance in a movie is reason enough for me to watch. Sam Rockwell is one of them.
His unique charm was perfectly suited to the quirky indie movies he's played in. It was inevitable that his shot at big time Hollywood would come. First George Clooney insisted on him for "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and then he co-starred with Nicholas Cage in "Matchstick Men". For a brief moment I feared we would loose Sam. But no, his next career choice was to be "Piccadilly Jim". If you've not heard of it, not to worry, it went most deservedly on the straight-to-video route.
The thing is the industry simply has little faith in Sam Rockwell. Just look at the Video and DVD art work of his movies. In "Lawn Dogs" (his finest film) he's barely off the screen, and yet the art work is dominated by Angie Harmon who barely has a minute of screen time. One can forgive "Confession of a Dangerous Mind" for such treatment when co-stars include Clooney and Julia Roberts but Angie Harmon ?! The art work of "Piccadilly Jim" is equally unfair. Rockwell has the title role and yet who should dominate the art work but Alison Janey, in a very minor part.
What makes Sam Rockwell such an appealing actor is the inability to pigeon hole him. But it would seem that the powers that be in the industry hold that against him.
"Piccadilly Jim" is a hugely misguided effort which backfires in all departments. Even the likes of Brenda Blethyn and Alison Janey fall short, while Frances O'Connor is completely out of her depth. Only Sam Rockwell, miscast as he might be, is, as always, terrific.
Steer clear of this one on all accounts. Search out Rockwell's earlier works and here's hoping he'll be more fortunate with future projects.
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