Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Edward G. Robinson is a PR man known for overdosing on "ballyhoo," but when his latest stunt for the Snyderling Company goes too far (with acrobats swinging from blimps high over the city), he's sent to England to see how the sedate and dignified British do it. He stays with some relatives who, though upper class on the surface, are in financial trouble and hope that Robinson will buy their castle from them. Luli Deste, the young heiress, is set to marry the smarmy family lawyer (Ralph Richardson), but she admits to Robinson that it's strictly for money. The family owns a magnalite mine in South Africa which Richardson wants to get his hands on, but Robinson talks the Duke (Nigel Bruce) into selling it to him—and he gets to use his PR talents to scare up investors. However, Richardson goes to France to purchase the patent to the refining process, stymieing Robinson's plans.  This is an unusual little film, an independent British production with a major American star used against type as a romantic comedy leading man, though the romantic elements are downplayed throughout to the point where you forget that Robinson has fallen for Deste. It's just as well because they are an ill-suited match: he seems more like her father than a suitor, and Deste, an Austrian, is weak in the acting department (she only made a handful of films before retiring in 1941)—her character's thick accent is explained away by her having lived in Vienna for many years. It would seem that a touch of screwball comedy was being tried for with the appearance of two street musicians Robinson befriends, to no particular plot purpose. Richardson and Bruce are both worth seeing, and the whole thing has a pleasant feel, so it's difficult to dislike it, and there is one standout scene with Robinson trapping Bruce on a merry-go-round for seemingly hours until he agrees to the sale (pictured at right). [TCM]

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