Sunday, June 16, 2002


This seems to be one of James Whale's lesser known movies. It was great fun, and possibly ripe for a remake. In atmosphere, it feels like a stage farce opened up for the screen. The great British actor David Garrick goes off to Paris to act with the Comedie Francaise, but due to some conceited remarks he makes during his London stage farewell, the French troupe takes over a wayside inn he's staying at en route to Paris and attempts to stage a hoax designed to teach him a thing or two. However, he gets wind of their plans and so manages to one-up the troupe. It's filled with lots of door-slamming and disguises. Most of the cast, including Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill, and Edward Everett Horton, are great; I was especially pleased to see Melville Cooper, a good British supporting player who is usually relegated to playing butlers, in a major role as the president of the French troupe. The only real problem is the lead, Brian Aherne. He's OK but nothing special. I think Cary Grant or even Robert Montgomery (or perhaps, if it had been made three or four years earlier, John Barrymore) would have been much better. The ending is rushed and a little unsatsifying. Whale didn't direct that many movies and some, such as JOURNEY'S END and the 1931 WATERLOO BRIDGE, are quite hard to find, so I was especially pleased to be able to see this change of pace for the man best known for his horror movies.

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