Topper (1937)

Topper (1937) Run Time: 97 min. | b/w

Director:  Norman Z. McLeod

Stars: Constance Bennett, Cary Grant, Roland Young, Billie Burke

Genres: Comedy | Fantasy | Romance

Storyline
A gossamer light fantasy-comedy of two ghosts interfering in the life of milquetoast Roland Young. The entire cast sparkles in this most engaging comedy.
Box Office
Budget: $500,000 (estimated)

4 Comments

  1. IMDBReviewer

    August 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    "Topper", the delightful and original film directed by Norman Z McLeod, should be seen more often. It is one of the best things Hollywood ever produced at the height of the madcap comedy craze of the thirties. In fact, just to watch Roland Young, Constance Bennett and Cary Grant in the same film is a dream come true.

    "Topper" has always been an old time favorite. We were treated the other night to watching it again, courtesy of TCM. The film’s great black and white cinematography by Norbert Brodine looks good, even after these many years.

    Constance Bennett and Cary Grant made a fabulous couple. Ms. Bennett had the uncanny gift of blending with all her leading men well. She was a charming actress with such a sense of style and an amazing figure to boot that made her an irresistible presence on the screen. Cary Grant is also seen at his best in the film as the careless and fun loving George Kerby.

    Roland Young, in our humble opinion, steals the show! He plays the staid banker Cosmo Topper, who is all business until he starts being made the object of the Kerby’s antics. Cosmo Topper’s wife is the incomparable Billie Burke, one of the most gracious actresses of that era.

    The rest of the cast is not too shabby. Alan Mowbray, Eugene Palette, Ward Bond, Hoagy Carmichael, and as an extra, Lana Turner could be seen backing the principals with their usual elegance and enormous screen presence.

    "Topper" is a film that should be "rediscovered" by new audiences, as it shows how great Hollywood could be when it wanted to be original. But above all, "Topper" should be seen for the fantastic Roland Young, who is nothing short of perfection in the film!

  2. IMDBReviewer

    August 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Cosmo TOPPER has his stuffy, henpecked life turned upside down by the interference of two recently deceased friends.

    The folks at Hal Roach Studios fashioned this popular supernatural comedy. Intended to be at the opposite extreme from the typical ghost thriller, there are no sudden chills or eerie ectoplasms here–just lots of good humor and a few (well done) special effects.

    Owlish Roland Young plays the bemused recipient of his dead friends’ good deeds. No matter how drastically the intentions backfire, leading to arrest & scandal, Young remains a decent chap bent on regaining some equanimity in his life. (What is most impressive about his performance are his hilarious physical contortions when under the invisible influence of the ghosts.) Dear Billie Burke is wonderful, as usual, as Young’s slightly bewildered wife, who has relinquished the role of lover to be mother hen to her husband — hoping her control over him assures their acceptance by high society.

    As the Kerbys–living and dead– Constance Bennett & Cary Grant have plenty of star power & charm to spare and their spirits are certainly blithe, but a frank examination of their characters reveals some flaws. There is nothing funny about alcoholism or reckless driving, both of which contribute to their demise, and they are fortunate they kill only their own silly selves and not anyone else. That being said, they certainly do make a pair of great-looking spooks.

    The rest of the cast adds to the fun: Alan Mowbray once again plays a butler with an attitude; young Arthur Lake appears as a hapless hotel employee; elegant Hedda Hopper does well with her single scene as an unstuffy society doyenne; J. Farrell MacDonald plays a no-nonsense cop; and corpulent Eugene Pallette has fun with his role as a suspicious hotel detective.

    Composer Hoagy Carmichael appears as himself and Ward Bond plays a taxi driver, both uncredited.

    This was the first of a 3-film series and was followed by TOPPER TAKES A TRIP (1939) and TOPPER RETURNS (1941).

  3. tfsadmin

    August 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Two stock holders in a bank that loved living it up, real posh social folk used to living the life in the fast lane snag the BIG Detour, as their car misses a hairpin turn and crashes killing both of them. They having committed no particularly good or bad deed are in purgatory limbo caught between heaven and, earth thus existing as ghosts here.

    They are charged to do one good deed. With that the object on their road to salvation becomes their former banker and friend Cosmo P. Topper. Cosmo a quiet shy hen pecked little man of respect and dignity in social circles that count in his community has a trappy motherly sort of wife who has a funny voice that simply cannot be duplicated in this film.

    The ghosts act to make Cosmo Topper a changed man a person more real more free and open which yet he still remained plenty respectable a person given by today’s measures of morality given the standards of the world when this film was made. Cosmo is thrust unwillingly into one mad cap adventure after another until the poor dear was numb. He became more free simply because these two ghost unable to give up their wild party lifestyle dragged poor topper with them wherever they went.

    That’s not to say Topper was a hostage. Oh no far from it Cosmo Topper genuinely enjoyed his new found party life drinking pink ladies, a alcoholic drink swooshing down sliding boards to enter trendy night spots, watching floor shows oh Topper was living it up. Oh yes Topper was a reluctant but willing accomplice in his own undoing. As the party life went on a more and more disturbed Mrs. Cosmo P. Topper grew concerned as she watched her mouse of a grow in self confidence. I could tell you more of the plot but won’t get it on VHS or DVD yourself its awesome.

    I will say that the music is so totally hot in this movie providing you like big band music. Old Man Moon is Particularly good. The whole movie is sweet. It has a little mystery in it some intrigue but its always light and gay. The movie has what I consider a sweet tearjerker ending that is only really meaningful if you watch the film from beginning to end.

    This film was a product of the HAL ROACH studios and, all the trick photography you saw in this film was all done in the camera via technical means. This was a real ground breaking bit of FX technology for its day. You also get to see the actor who played Dagwood Bumstead at a very early age as the elevator dude in this film. Mergatroids the man was still a pup.

    I have this one in my collection and I treasure it. I love old movies more than most of the new stuff. This movie is just good clean innocent fun. If you want sex and, naked bodies thrust so close up into your face you can see their skin cells devide this movie is not for you. If ou like a fun movie that makes you laugh at snootty upper crust posh folk of a bygone era then this movie is all that. The time is set in the distant past by todays standards but zanny people never change see this movie for yourself to see why.

  4. tfsadmin

    August 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Some great sight gags made this a big hit in its day, enough that two sequels were made (although not nearly as good.)

    Cary Grant and Constance Bennett certainly are a handsome leading couple but it’s Roland Young, as "Cosmo Topper," who steals the show. He’s a stiff old man who quickly loosens up and the transformation is fun to watch.

    Bennett was a legitimate 1930s glamor girl who looks just great in here and pairs off well with the handsome Grant. The two of them also exhibit a good comedic touch. They had a lot to offer besides good looks. Even more handsome than those two was the automobile – wow, what a great-looking sports car! I”m glad to see other reviewers comment on it. It was awesome.

    By the way, I know Hollywood liked to preach in some of these classic films that everyone gets into heaven, but this was "topped" them all. In here, the theology was that "all it takes is ONE good deed" during your lifetime.

    Ohhhhh-kay.

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