Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

Director: Leo McCarey

Writers: Harry Leon Wilson, Walter DeLeon, Harlan Thompson, Humphrey Pearson

Starring: Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charles Ruggles, Zasu Pitts, Roland Young, Leila Hyams, Maude Eburne, Lucien Littlefield, Leota Lorraine, James Burke, Dell Henderson, Clarence Wilson

More info: IMDb

Plot:  An English valet brought to the American west assimilates into the American way of life.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I get a kick out of watching movies that deliver something different.  On the surface, it's the kind of picture that almost writes itself but it's in the execution that delivers the unexpected.  I thought I had this one figured out in the first ten minutes but the story kept going in directions I didn't see coming.  For starters we spend a lot of time in the beginning with the set-up with Ruggles (Laughton) and Egbert (Ruggles) paling around with Ruggles' futile attempts at trying to get Egbert to be less garish and become more of a cultured gentleman and the opposite with Egbert getting Ruggles to lighten up, ditch that ridiculous class mentality and learn that they are equals.  Finally we get to Washington State and the small rural town of Red Gap where Ruggles continues his education in learning what it means to be unbound by silly formalities and comes into his own.  There are some pretty good laughs along the way but late in the film Ruggles begins to recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address when no one else in the saloon remembers any of it.  I wept I was so moved.  I didn't see this coming.  It's a pivotal moment for the character and it was utterly astonishing.  The movie does play along with conventional story cliches but there are lots of scenes that go on longer than they should as far as movie the story along is concerned.  They play that way strictly for the laughs.  The antagonists do their job at trying to retain the status quo and the ending is typically happy and uplifting but along the way there are some funny gags and fun performances, the best of which belongs to Laughton.  That man's acting is a marvel to watch.

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