Monday, April 13, 2009

Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey, 1935)

***½
USA



This repressed-fish-out-of-water comedy's venerable reputation might lead you to expect something more polished and less dewy-eyed-jingoistic. That said, Ruggles, the Parisian butler won in a poker game by crass mid-Westerners, is perhaps the most understated and beguiling of the three remarkable and remarkably varied characterisations Charles Laughton gave in 1935. And he isn't even the pick of this terrific ensemble: As a drunken loon and Ruggles' original master, Roland Young brings an odd improvisatory deadpan rhythm to each of his scenes that feels decades and decades ahead of its time.

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