Monday, September 29, 2014



In 1939, eccentric rich lady Margaret Rutherford heads off to Geneva for a League of Nations meeting to propose international laws concerning the safety of British birds. While there, a romantic comedy of errors begins: Penelope Ward, Rutherford's niece, realizes she's in love in with their handsome butler (Michael Wilding), but she meets cute with Claude Dauphin, author of a book called Love in Six Lessons. There's also a lovely translator (Lilli Palmer) whom Dauphin and his friend (Albert Lieven) flirt with. When war breaks out and Wilding joins the service, Ward declares her love, but he turns her down flat—largely, we assume, because of class distinctions—and goes off to war. A year later, Wilding, now an officer, stops by to visit his former employers, who have turned their house into a sanctuary for Allied soldiers, and has now decided he loves Ward—but she is no longer so charmed by him. She realizes what she liked about him when he was a butler was how cold and distant he seemed, but now that they're on a more level plain, he's lost his appeal. Also meeting up at the house, by accident, are Palmer and her two devotees. It takes a couple more years, but all the pairings eventually get sorted out. A cute comedy that benefits greatly from the presence of Rutherford playing one of her patented "dotty old lady" parts—though as far as I'm concerned, she doesn’t have enough screen time—and Wilding (pictured with Rutherford) as the unflappable butler who winds up being flappable after all. Ward is the weak link, but the supporting players, also including Roland Culver and Peggy Cummins, shine all the more. There’s a cute joke involving foreign-language speakers learning to pronounce "sesquipedalian" and "phantasmagoric." [TCM]

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