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The Man in Possession (1931)
Topic Started: Nov 23 2017, 05:05 PM (244 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Man in Possession (1931) Dir. Sam Wood
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
84 min. / B&W / 1.37:1
DVD: "Robert Montgomery Collection" (Warner Archive)

Robert Montgomery is newly out of prison for fraud, and while his mother forgives him, his snobby father (C. Aubrey Smith) and brother want only to ship him off to South Africa to preserve the (fairly) good family name, because brother Reginald Owen is engaged to a wealthy widow that will make the family's fortune. Bob is not interested in such a proposition, and instead becomes an aide to a bill collector trying to get a large fee owed by a certain woman, Charlotte Greenwood, who is heavily in debt - who just happens to be the fiance in question. Assigned to keep an eye on the premises until the necessary writs can be served, Bob becomes her butler - and falls in love with her. Can he satisfy the bill collectors, his family honor, and the widow lady?

After a slow, overly mannered, talky start (this is an adaptation of a stage play) that almost had me regretting my decision in watching this creaky old thing, the film really took off (about the time of Miss Greenwood's nude bathtub romp) and I spent the next hour laughing out loud at the goings-on. It's nice to see a Pre-Code film that isn't just "rather naughty" - this one's out-and-out-dirty. Charlotte not only has a fiance, she has a boyfriend (neither of whom does she love, it's all about the dough and the future) and oh, my my what she does with that butler.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Maid: "Are you going to be funny?"
Bob: "Yes."
Maid: "Try harder."

Debt Collector, after the Bob and Charlotte have spent some, er, quality time together, asking whether she is happy with the debt-collecting job his deputy did: "I always like my man to give satisfaction!"

I have never had a special affinity for Robert Montgomery, even though he's the star of my all-time favorite romantic comedy, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but he's a pip here. Not as much of a pip as Miss Greenwood, though, a lady whose other Pre-Code films I intend to seek out. She's a honey. A nice print of a wonderful (but, yes, a tad creaky) old comedy on the Warner Archive DVD.

Bonus attractions included Porky's Papa cartoon and Robert Benchley in How to Behave. Indeed.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Frank Hale
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I thought this was a pleasant surprise also, and agree about it taking a while to pick up steam.

It was remade in 1937 as a Jean Harlow / Robert Taylor vehicle, "Personal Property", which as I recall seemed to lack any spark and was not nearly as good. Also available from the Archive (which is having a sale today BTW.)
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mort bakaprevski
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Copied the following out of IMDB: "She (Charlotte) was a devout Christian scientist and her faith made her turn down roles she felt were too risque."

Hmmmmm....
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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Frank Hale
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That sounds like her local pastor (or whatever the appropriate Christian Scientist term would be) writing in to salvage her reputation, when no salvaging was required.

I only know what I've seen on the screen, and she's typically a man-hungry gal, who knows she's not all that attractive, but who compensates with an out-sized personality and some very long, high-kicking legs.

I donít remember the film being as "dirty" as LG suggests, but there was definitely a fair amount of good-natured innuendo. Can't recall anything particularly embarrassing, but, hey, if I missed something spicy I'll be glad to take another look!

And just to clarify: I (and I think Gravy might agree) would not claim that's it's a great film. It was just pleasant entertainment and a lot better than I expected.
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Laughing Gravy
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Well, so many Pre-Codes offer the usual stuff - and we all know what it is - that was banned by the Code, but I really enjoy movies about women who have sex because they enjoy having sex, and not as a means to "get ahead" (you should pardon the expression) in a tough world.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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I just checked - I do have the remake, Personal Property, in the big Jean Harlow boxed set from Warner Archive. Will check it out one o' these days.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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