Monday, May 05, 2003


An odd and non-too-successful mix of "fish out of water" comedy and crime drama. Robert Montgomery plays a Chicago gangster who has gone more or less legit in the booze business. In the opening scene, he picks up Edward Arnold, just out of prison. Arnold was an honest lawyer who wound up in jail because Montgomery framed him seven years ago; he is understandably bitter, but Montgomery gives his a legit job as manager of his business. Arnold takes the job, but it seems clear that his thirst for revenge will still need an outlet someday. Reginald Owen arrives from England to let Montgomery know that he has inherited some British estates, and the title of earl. Mongomery and Arnold head to England where Arnold, using a forged power of attorney, proceeds to run the Chicago business into the ground. The betrayal leads to tragic consequences all around. It's an interesting plot, but the main reason it doesn't work is Montgomery who is irritating throughout, partly because he adopts a patently fake tough-guy voice and staccato laugh that grate on the viewer's nerves. His slow change in England from selfish to "noblesse oblige" is fun to watch, but the melodramatic twists at the end negate much of that fun. Edmund Gwenn is fine, as he always is, as the loyal butler who facilitates Montgomery's transformation. Arnold and Owen are also very good. The castle sets are nice. More character development and a better leading man would have helped this movie tremendously.

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