Topper

1937, Movie, NR, 98 mins

Review

TOPPER
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Sophisticated, but a touch too mild, saved by an ebullient cast. Low-budget comedy producer Hal Roach, who had made a fortune on his Laurel and Hardy shorts, finally decided to risk a big-budget, feature-length comedy, and he came up with a winner that spawned two sequels, a television series, and a made-for-television remake.

George and Marion Kerby (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett) are a young, wealthy, happy-go-lucky married couple whose main pursuit in life is having a good time. Though they are the chief stockholders in a bank, their minds are on anything but business. One night, while driving recklessly in their big car, they hit a tree and are killed. Their spirits walk out of the wreck, but are dismayed to learn that they have not ascended to the heavens but are still on Earth, albeit in a rather astral form (they can turn invisible at will). George and Marion then decide that they will probably be trapped on Earth forever unless they make amends for their frivolous lifestyle by doing something of value.

The orignal casting for the film--Harlow for Bennett, W.C. Fields for Young--might have made for a screwier, more frenetic mix. Harlow's comedic touch had a more childlike sense of mischief. When she died a month before filming, Bennett, whose box-office was languishing due to too many formulaic weepies, landed the risk of TOPPER. She's a teasing minx, rather than a playful kitten. But audiences responded enthusiastically to her portrayal. Additional laughs result from TOPPER's special effects--the invisible duo makes objects appear to move by themselves. Avoid the the computer-colored version, which recently appeared on the market. leave a comment

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