Piccadilly Jim (1936)

  • Oh man…this has so many good people in it.
  • Screenplay by Charles Brackett & Edwin Knopf (based on a novel by P.G. Wodehouse).
  • Robert Montgomery is James Crocket, Jr., a prospering cartoonist/caricaturist living in England. Frank Morgan is James, Sr., his non-prospering actor father who only acts in Shakespeare plays – otherwise, he acts in nothing…so, as RoMo says – it has been nothing for the last 20 years.
  • Oh, goodness – Frank Morgan’s love interest in this movie is Eugenia – played by Billie Burke. And that is how the Wizard of Oz & Glenda the Good Witch became lovers. (!!!)
  • There’s a scene in Jim’s apartment in which Eugenia, James Sr., and Eugenia’s sister, brother-in-law, & nephew are waiting for Jim’s arrival so they can meet him – that is perfectly written & perfectly delivered. The rhythm and the dynamic between the characters is absolutely great.
  • (Eugenia’s family – Herbert Pett (Grant Mitchell), Nesta Pett (Cora Witherspoon), & their troublemaker son Ogden (Tommy Bupp) – do not approve of Eugenia’s choice in boyfriends & think James Sr. is after their wealth…which they have made off of some fabric-recycling clothing business called “the Pett Process.”)

(Also, really it seems like Nesta is the only one who really objects to James Sr. Herbert seems like a dullard who only cares about his recycled clothing – and all Ogden is concerned with is getting into mischief while complaining about the stiffness of the suits he’s made to wear.)

  • Eric Blore plays Bayliss, RoMo’s butler…and he does it gloriously.
  • Well – RoMo takes to making a cartoon strip called “Rags to Riches” featuring the “Richswitch family” that not-so-subtly parodies the Pett clan. People love it.
  • When the Petts return from holiday, Nesta & Herbert are predictably outraged by the cartoon & its widespread popularity – especially since it is so accurate that people are able to recognize them as the Richswitches wherever they go.

(It should be noted that Eugenia & Ogden find the comic strip charmingly hilarious.)

  • Unfortunately, Jim discovers too late that the beautiful girl he has been trying to woo is, in fact, Mr. Pett’s niece.
  • Ann, the niece (Madge Evans), doesn’t yet know that RoMo & Piccadilly Jim the Insulting Cartoonist are one in the same – but somehow, I suspect, that will not last much longer.
  • RoMo tells Ann that he knows Piccadilly Jim & can get the cartoons to stop – except when he goes to his editor, the editor’s like, ‘Sorry, dude – you made this cartoon way too popular & funny & the newspaper is making heaps of money off of it. If you quit, we’ll just find someone new to draw it.’ And RoMo’s like, ‘Well…fuck.’
  • I’m not really sure why RoMo is so relentlessly pursuing this Ann – we’ve met her on several occasions now, & I’m really not impressed. Sure, she’s pretty – but she doesn’t really seem to have much else going on.
  • RoMo follows Bland – I mean…Ann – on a boat to America (catching up to the other Petts, who sailed on a boat the previous day). He pretends his name is Bayliss, and that Bayliss (the butler) is his father.
  • Bland is like, ‘Great news, Mr. Bayliss (RoMo) – you can meet my Aunt & Uncle at the dock tomorrow!’ Fake Mr. Bayliss is like, ‘Ohhh, crap.’
  • Speaking of lying about one’s identity – greeting Bland on the dock with the Petts is one “Count Osric” – who of course is the elder Mr. Crocker, wearing glasses & a handlebar mustache & speaking with a Danish accent.
  • Bland eventually finds out that Bayliss, Jr. is actually Piccadilly Jim & pretends to be mad for several weeks – but of course she is in love with PJ, despite his cartoons, and soon cancels her engagement to Lord Priory (an outstanding Ralph Forbes) & comes running back to him.
  • …But not before a drama-filled dinner is held, in which PJ inspires Count Osric to rip off his glasses & beard & reveal his true identity to his duped BFF Nesta. (Nesta shrieks in response, but I think she’ll get over it.)
  • And they all lived happily ever after: Bland with PJ, and Glenda with Oz. Bravo!
  • This movie was perfectly cast, in every way – which made it extremely enjoyable to watch.
  • The screenplay was also well done – though I feel like it lost some steam in the last half, once the Ann-pursuit was commenced.
  • Still – a highly entertaining film, and if you’re a fan of RoMo, Frank Morgan, or Eric Blore – seek it out immediately!
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