Robert Montgomery is at his charming best in PICCADILLY JIM (1936), an MGM comedy available from the Warner Archive.
PICCADILLY JIM was released by the Archive earlier this year as part of a Montgomery "wave" which included the previously reviewed YELLOW JACK (1938) and THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS (1938).
I first saw PICCADILLY JIM in 2011, and it was great fun returning to it thanks to the Archive. I appreciated the movie even more the second time around. It's a sparkling film thanks to its deep cast of pros and a witty script by Charles Brackett and Edwin Knopf, based on a novel by P.G. Wodehouse.
Montgomery plays Jim Crocker, an American artist living in London. Jim's father (Frank Morgan) falls in love with a charming lady (Billie Burke) who is saddled with obnoxious relatives (Grant Mitchell, Cora Witherspoon, Tommy Bupp). Jim creates a cartoon series based on the family which is a huge hit.
Alas, Jim discovers Ann (Madge Evans), whom he's loved from afar, is another member of the family, and they're all leaving for America to avoid the social discomfort created by the cartoons. Father and son have their work cut out for them winning the hands of their ladies fair.
The script is simply delightful, with one great line after another, particularly when Jim's scene-stealing butler (Eric Blore) is concerned. Blore really makes the movie, but everyone does a grand job. I haven't even mentioned yet that Robert Benchley has a small role as Jim's drinking buddy. This is MGM at its polished 1930s best.
PICCADILLY JIM was the last of five films costarring Montgomery and Evans. The other titles were LOVERS COURAGEOUS (1932), HELL BELOW (1933), MADE ON BROADWAY (1933), and FUGITIVE LOVERS (1934). LOVERS COURAGEOUS and MADE ON BROADWAY are available from the Warner Archive as part of the Robert Montgomery Collection. I'd especially love to see FUGITIVE LOVERS released on DVD.
The PICCADILLY JIM cast also includes Ralph Forbes and Billy Bevan. It's a great movie for classic film buffs, as there are many fun faces to pick out of the crowds. Perennial dress extra Bess Flowers can be spotted over Madge Evans' left shoulder in her first nightclub scene, and future star Dennis Morgan is the band leader and singer in the same sequence. Later another future star, Dennis O'Keefe, can be spotted being introduced to Montgomery in yet another nightclub.
PICCADILLY JIM was directed by Robert Z. Leonard. It was filmed in black and white by Joseph Ruttenberg. The running time is 95 minutes.
The Warner Archive disc includes the trailer. The movie's picture and sound are in fine shape.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.