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
If you are a Wodehouse fan looking for a faithful adaption of Piccadilly Jim I should avoid this film at all costs. The director just does not understand where the appeal of Wodehouse lies.
He has bastardised the clear historical period which Wodehouse sets out so that all sense of nostalgia is lost. The costume is ghastly, there are no tweed suits, no tails, no period hats, instead a hideous marriage of poorly cut 1980's suits and common 21st century fashions (black shirts and black suits with white ties etc.). Don't get me started on the hairstyles. The sets are cheap and bland reproductions of art-deco, the cars a strange and offensive fusion of modern and vintage. The camera angles and lighting are extremely self indulgent to the extent that houses are made to look like night clubs for so called 'dramatic effect'.
If these were the only crimes we might just be able to forgive this film, however the script is frankly insulting to any true Wodehouse fan. All of the beautiful language which is unique to Wodehouse has been scrapped in favour of a simplified, dumbed-down, consumer friendly script with the effect that much of the magic of Wodehouse is lost.
There are a few exceptions however. Rupert Simonian gives an accurate and encouraging portrayal of Ogden Ford. Tom Wilkinson, Hugh Bonneville and Geoffrey Palmer deserve credit for making a good, although futile effort at bringing this film into repute.
If you are a Wodehouse fan you will doubtless be tempted to watch this film and I imagine you will have a very similar reaction to me. If you are not a Wodehouse fan I suggest you avoid this to prevent you from getting a bad impression of him, pick up the book instead.
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