Tuesday, November 29, 2016


George Arliss is the aging chairman of a shipbuilding company; near 80, he is described by board members as "very feeble," and indeed, he always needs a pull to get up out of his chair. Creditors suggest that Arliss declare bankruptcy, but we find out that he has illegitimate grandchildren he wants to be sure are taken care of, so he engages in shady dealings to get them an inheritance. When one of his creditors (Murray Kinnel) finds out what's going on, he tries to blackmail the old man. [SPOILER]: To escape exposure, Arliss, who has been warned to take it easy on food and drink, treats himself to a huge final meal of rich food and drink, and dies in his chair.

This is a lesser Arliss vehicle. It's basically a filmed stage play, taking place entirely on a couple of sets, and focuses completely on the Arliss character; it's not literally a one-man show—a number of minor characters pop on and off, none of them fleshed out—but it might as well be. Even in a weak film, Arliss is fun to watch; however, his showpiece near the end, as he enjoys his suicidal meal, goes on a bit too long even for me, an Arliss fan. There are some amusing lines: Arliss calls his brandy "Mother's milk"; he uses expressions like, "Oh, my hat!" and "Oh, my grandmother’s wig!"; he refers to someone as "milk and water masquerading as port wine." There is a secondary plot concerning a young man in love with Arliss' granddaughter, but it comes to little. This film is part of a DVD boxed set of Arliss movies, but none of them (the others are A SUCCESSFUL CALAMITY and THE KING'S VACATION) are among his best. Still, it's good to have some Arliss available. [DVD]

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