21 user 7 critic

Personal Property (1937)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 19 March 1937 (USA)
Raymond Dabney returns to his family after trouble with the law. He convinces the sheriff to give him a job watching the house and furniture of widow Crystal Wetherby without knowing she is... See full summary »


W.S. Van Dyke (as W.S. Van Dyke II)


H.M. Harwood (play), Hugh Mills (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Directors: William A. Wellman, Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Robert Taylor, Binnie Barnes


Complete credited cast:
Jean Harlow ... Crystal Wetherby
Robert Taylor ... Raymond Dabney aka Ferguson
Reginald Owen ... Claude Dabney
Una O'Connor ... Clara, Crystal's Maid
Henrietta Crosman ... Mrs. Cosgrove Dabney
E.E. Clive ... Cosgrove Dabney
Cora Witherspoon ... Mrs. Burns
Marla Shelton ... Catherine Burns
Forrester Harvey ... Herbert Jenkins, Bailiff
Lionel Braham ... Lord Carstairs
Barnett Parker ... Arthur 'Trevy' Trevelyan
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Melville Cooper ... (scenes deleted)


Raymond Dabney returns to his family after trouble with the law. He convinces the sheriff to give him a job watching the house and furniture of widow Crystal Wetherby without knowing she is engaged to his brother. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 March 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Man in Possession See more »


Box Office


$299,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Remake of The Man in Possession (1931) which also starred another actor named Robert, i.e. Robert Montgomery, in the same role. See more »


When Crystal comes down the stairs she has a black silk handkerchief in her hand. She then kneels on the side of the sofa and starts talking to someone with the black handkerchief still in her hand. After the end of the talk she tosses the black handkerchief away and it falls to the floor. Then when the camera cuts back to her it's back in her hand again. See more »


Herbert Jenkins, Bailiff: When you settle with him, he'll go. In the meanwhile, don't you worry. He's a gentleman, you can see. He has his orders. Treat him right and he'll treat you right. There you are... the man in possession.
Crystal Wetherby: Wait a minute. What do you mean? Man in possession? Man in possession of what? Me?
Raymond Dabney: Well, you see that the order...
Crystal Wetherby: Will you let me get a word in edge ways! Who are you anyway?
Raymond Dabney: Bailiff of the County...
Herbert Jenkins, Bailiff: Eh, Sheriff's Officer, if you please.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Jean Harlow (1962) See more »


Written by Giuseppe Verdi
Excerpts played and sung at the opera
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User Reviews

Robert Taylor as a Brit? Why not use Mantan Moreland or Benson Fong instead?
17 March 2016 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Back during the golden age of Hollywood, things were not always so golden when it came to casting folks in films. Since almost all the actors were contract players essentially belonging to one studio, the studios often tried to fit the actors into films instead of finding the best actor or actress for the part. So, when MGM wanted to do a film about China, they cast Walter Huston and Katharine Hepburn in it! And, the same sort of wacky casting happened somewhat regularly. While not nearly as goofy, some knucklehead at MGM thought 'Robert Taylor isn't busy with a film and he IS very popular...so let's have him star in "Personal Property"'...even though the role calls for him to be English!! He sounds about as English as Greta Garbo...and this is the same guy who starred as a brash American in "A Yank at Oxford"! Now I am not saying this is a bad film....just a badly cast film. Jean Harlow (in her last completed movie) is just fine because she plays an American fortune- hunter. And, Reginald Owen is just fine as her upper-class English fiancé...though you are expected to believe he and Taylor are brothers!

When the film begins, Raymond Dabney (Taylor) has just gotten out of jail for something...though they don't say what. His brother, Claude (Owen) is upset because the sudden appearance of Raymond might scare away the fiancée, Crystal (Harlow). By a complete act of chance, Raymond sees Crystal at the opera and INSTANTLY falls head over heels for her. In 1930s films, this is kind of cute as he constantly follows her. When seen today, he seems much more like a creepy stalker!

It turns out that Crystal AND Claude are both interested in marrying each other because they think the other one is rich! Claude is far from rich...and Crystal is so broke that practically everything she owns is being repossessed! So how's all this going to work out and how is Raymond going to figure into all this? See the film...find out for yourself.

Overall, it's a decent film....enjoyable but also slight and easy to forget. The only outstanding portion was the dinner party sequence, as I thought it was rather funny seeing the British actors exaggerating their stuffy upper-class patter. They were so incredibly dull and awful...but funny.

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