The last of the once wealthy Spottiswood family are siblings Albert and Harriet, who try desperately to spruce up the crumbling old family mansion, where they hope to impress the ...
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The last of the once wealthy Spottiswood family are siblings Albert and Harriet, who try desperately to spruce up the crumbling old family mansion, where they hope to impress the Fetherstones, a visiting clan of British aristocrats with a marriageable daughter. They hire on an itinerant jack of all trades to be butler and cook, and a door-to-door salesgirl to be the maid. Unfortunately, a sham Hindoo Prince arrives, to blackmail the Spottiswoods.Written by
Oh boy. What a golden opportunity to make a riotous comedy for the ages. Here are the two best comedy character actors in Hollywood, both on hand for what ought to be one of the funniest ever. Edward Everett Horton, bumbling and befuddled, and Edna May Oliver, haughty and acerbic, at their best in lampooning eccentric aristocrats. This should be a movie for the ages.
Well, it was OK and it could have been so much better. It starts off promising, as they are brother and sister who have inherited a rundown mansion in a small town. With customary uppercrust audacity they dragoon some locals into their service, as they are trying to impress some expected relatives. Meanwhile, their mansion is in shambles from years of neglect, and they are both penniless to boot, having run through the family fortune.
It sounds funny, and for a time, it is. But the screenwriters quickly run out of ideas and situations containing true humor, and after the first thirty minutes the picture limps to its finish. Maybe that was the reason they were character actors, unable to carry a picture on their own, although they get some help from other character actors in the cast - Andy Devine, Thelma Todd, and Una O'Connor among them. It is serviceable enough and if you see it you can imagine what might have been with better material. Capitolfest, Rome NY, 8/16.
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