Roland Young

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

Ruggles of Red Gap PosterWhen Texas ranchers Egbert (Charlie Ruggles) and Effie Floud (Mary Boland) take a trip to Paris, they end up returning with butler Marmaduke Ruggles (Charles Laughton) in tow.  Egbert had won Ruggles from the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young) in a poker game and the status-seeking Effie hopes having Ruggles will help her uncouth husband become more refined.  Ruggles does his best to get Egbert to adopt a posher lifestyle, but Egbert refuses to treat Ruggles like a servant and in the end, it’s Ruggles who starts adapting to some of Egbert’s ways of life.

When the Flouds return to their hometown of Red Gap, Washington with Ruggles, Ruggles ends up being the talk of the town when everyone gets the idea that he is a man of distinction.  Ruggles also starts to fall in love with local woman Prunella Judson (Zasu Pitts).  After Effie’s brother-in-law fires Ruggles, he considers leaving town, but after having a chat with Egbert and Egbert’s mother-in-law, decides to give up being a butler to open a restaurant in Red Gap.

For the first time in his life, Ruggles is living for himself, not for somebody else.  But then, Effie gets word that his former master, the Earl of Burnstead, is coming to town to ask Ruggles to work for him again.  Effie plans a big party to impress the Earl and is thrilled to be hosting someone so elite, but there’s just one thing missing from the party — Ruggles.  When Ruggles finally arrives, he tells the Earl about his plans and rather than being upset, the Earl is happy for him.  In fact, the Earl is happy to be there for opening night of the restaurant, which is a big success.

Ruggles of Red Gap is one of those movies that was acclaimed in its day, but unfortunately doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves today.  Director Leo McCarey found just the right mix of comedic and heartfelt moments.  Charles Laughton reciting the Gettysburg Address is an absolute must-see moment.  And I absolutely loved the ending of Ruggles reacting to the outpouring of support from the town at the opening of his restaurant.  The entire cast was excellent.  Charlie Ruggles was hilarious and Mary Boland was so perfect as the status-seeking Effie.  The only thing I was disappointed by was the fact that Charlie Ruggles and Roland Young don’t get much screen time together just because I couldn’t get enough of them together in This is the Night.

I very highly recommend Ruggles of Red Gap.  It hits every note just right.

Madam Satan (1930)

Angela Brooks (Kay Johnson) is happily married to Bob (Reginald Denny), but unfortunately, she soon finds out that Bob isn’t as happy with their marriage.  After a wild night of partying with his friend Jimmy (Roland Young), Angela sees that their antics had made the newspaper.  Only the article mentions a Mrs. Brooks being with them and Angela was at home in bed early that night.  She also finds a card in Bob’s coat pocket from someone named Trixie (Lillian Roth) asking him to come over to her place.  When she tries to confront Bob and Jimmy about the newspaper article, they concoct a story about Trixie being Jimmy’s wife, not Bob’s girlfriend.  But Angela knows better and one night, insists on joining Jimmy to meet Trixie.

Trixie had been looking forward to an evening with Bob and isn’t at all pleased when she gets stuck with Jimmy and Angela in her apartment instead.  Angela does everything in her power to make their evening painfully awkward.  And when Bob finally does show up, lots of frantic attempts are made to cover up the fact that Angela was there and Bob leaves thinking that Jimmy was there with a woman.  Angela doesn’t want to lose Bob and when her trusted maid advises her to spice things up to win him back, she decides to try it.  Earlier, Jimmy had invited her to a costume party on a zeppelin and Angela decides to develop an alter ego for the occasion, Madam Satan.  While Angela is buttoned-up and proper, Madam Satan is the life of the party and wears extremely revealing outfits.

The party is already pretty wild before Madam Satan makes her grand entrance (fashionably late, naturally), but when she arrives, she instantly makes a big splash.  Every man wants her attention and she effectively upstages Trixie, who was shaping up to be the belle of the ball, at every turn.  Of course she picks Bob to be the lucky man who gets to spend the most time with her.  He is madly in love with the mysterious Madam Satan, but is totally unaware of who she really is.  When he does find out, though, he suddenly isn’t so impressed anymore.  But there are bigger problems at hand when the zeppelin they’re on is struck by lightning and everyone suddenly must parachute to safety.  Everyone survives, but once the party’s over, Bob still has a hard time accepting what Angela had done.  However, she did manage to impress Jimmy, who drops by and says that he’d be glad to marry Angela if they get a divorce.  Suddenly Bob realizes that he’s not about to let Angela go quite that easily.

I have never seen a movie quite like Madam Satan.  I’d heard that it was pretty wild, bizarre, and very pre-code so I figured it’d be right up my alley and I was not disappointed.  I’m actually kind of at a loss of words to describe it.  It’s kind of like Why Change Your Wife? but on a zeppelin.  The pacing had room for improvement, but I guarantee that you have never seen a party like the one in Madam Satan.  The party itself is so wild and the costumes are just insane.  It makes the most raucous fraternity party look like a quiet afternoon tea in comparison.

This is the Night (1932)

Claire Mathewson (Thelma Todd) is married to Olympic javelin thrower Stephen Mathewson (Cary Grant), but that doesn’t stop her from carrying on an affair with Gerald (Roland Young) while her husband is out of town for the Olympics.  One night, Clarie and Gerald were supposed to go to the theater, but then her dress gets caught in the car door and is ripped completely off, much to the amusement of the crowd in front of the theater.  They cut the night short and head back to her place, but on the way back, Claire tells Gerald that she’s planned a trip to Venice for the two of them.  Meanwhile, Gerald’s friend Bunny (Charlie Ruggles) stops by Claire’s apartment to drop off their train tickets.  What he doesn’t expect is to run into Stephen, who has decided to not go to the Olympics after all.  Of course, Stephen coming back really throws a wrench into Claire’s plans for Venice.  Thinking quickly, Bunny tries saying that the tickets were for Gerald and his wife, Claire was just going to tag along on their trip.  Stephen doesn’t quite buy that story, but he calls their bluff and insists on coming along, too.

The only problem is that now they need to find someone to pretend to be Gerald’s wife.  He tries hiring an actress, but she doesn’t want to upset her boyfriend and the she gets the out-of-work Germaine (Lili Damita) to go in her place.  Germaine goes to meet with Gerald, and of course Bunny can’t resist crashing the interview.  They initially have their doubts about her, but she manages to win them over and the next thing she knows, she’s on the train to Venice.  Claire doesn’t like her right off the bat and can’t stand seeing Gerald with her.  She tries to get Gerald to send her back to Paris, but she refuses to leave and threatens to tell Stephen what’s really going on.  But it turns out that Gerald isn’t the only one Claire has to worry about.  Stephen is a bit infatuated with Germaine.  In fact, Germaine is turning out to be the most popular lady on this trip because Bunny and even Gerald, despite his “strictly business” attitude, also begin to fall for Germaine.

Later, as Germaine is getting ready for a night out with Bunny, Gerald gets jealous and sends him away when he arrives.  Gerald takes the opportunity to really win her over and she falls for him, but is getting frustrated by this whole set-up and wants to leave.  But Bunny isn’t willing to give up so easily and tries climbing a ladder into her bedroom.  She tries to get rid of him, but he’s drunk and when he tries to leave on the ladder, he falls into a canal.  Stephen overhears the commotion, thinks there’s a burglar in Germaine’s room, and goes to investigate.  Gerald and Claire also both rush in and when they see Stephen and Germaine together, they get the wrong idea.  After he gets out of the canal, Bunny comes back to explain what happened and Claire realizes that the idea of her husband being in love with another woman has made her fall back in love with him.  Claire ends things with Gerald, leaving Gerald free to pursue Germaine.

This is the Night was Cary Grant’s film debut and was actually nearly his last.  He really didn’t care for this movie at all and hated it so much that he almost left the industry all together.  But luckily, he was talked out of it and the rest is history.  But even if Cary Grant didn’t like it, I absolutely adore it.  Actually, I’m kind of obsessed with it and I’ve mentioned before that I wish I could live in that movie.  I’ve heard some people call it a “poor man’s Ernst Lubitsch film,” but even a poor man’s Ernst Lubitsch is still pretty darn entertaining.  It’s hilarious and very pre-code.  The cast had great chemistry together, especially Charlie Ruggles and Roland Young.  And I just love how stylized it is.  I’m not even quite sure what to compare it to.  There are times when it kinda reminds me of a silent film with the way the outdoor night scenes are tinted blue and how in the very beginning, it’s just music and synchronized sound effects.  Then there are moments where it almost turns into a musical, but it doesn’t quite go all the way with it.  It’s certainly a unique one, that’s for sure.  I can’t get enough of it.

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Movies I Want to Live In: This is the Night (1932)

Sometimes I come across a movie that is so incredibly charming, funny, and all-around stylish that I wish I could walk right into the movie and live in it.  1932’s This is the Night is definitely one of those movies.  Here are eight reasons why:

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