For Reel


Topper (1937)
January 20, 2012, 3:42 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Norman Z. McLeod

A wildly popular supernatural comedy that spawned two sequels, a television series, and a remake, Topper pairs Constance Bennett and Cary Grant as a fun-loving couple who are killed in an automobile accident and must complete one good deed before ascending into heaven. The titular Mr. Topper, played by the dry Roland Young, is the subject of their charity, and their goal is to teach him how to loosen up. I suppose that an audience in 1937 might have gotten a kick out of seeing a tire change itself – and, to be sure, the visual effect is still impressive – but that is all that the picture has going for it in the way of humor. Items float about and the living look on in disbelief. These supernatural sight gags have long been the most tiresome of comic staples. Part of what makes a screwball comedy of this sort endearing is to see the people pulling the pranks delighting in their behavior. In this picture, however, a handkerchief floats across the room, and the audience doesn’t know why Constance Bennett is doing it, nor is there a glimpse of the surely mischievous look on her face. It turns out that dissolving two charismatic, amusing, and beautiful stars into phantoms is a bad idea.

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