Ruggles of Red Gap
Directed by Leo McCarey
This seldom mentioned treasure is one of the reasons I keep watching these old movies! It has a perfect cast, a wonderful script, and is expertly directed by Leo McCarey.
The time is the Gay 90’s. The place is Paris. Charles Laughton plays Ruggles, the proper English valet to the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young). The Earl “loses” Ruggles to the rough-and-ready American Egbert Floud (Charlie Ruggles) in a poker game. Mrs. Floud has taken a fancy to Ruggles because she thinks he can civilize her boisterous husband and improve her social standing. Egbert immediately treats Ruggles as his equal, much to Ruggles’ embarrassment.
The Flouds soon return with Ruggles to Red Gap in Wild West Washington State. Due to a misunderstanding, society thinks that Ruggles is a house guest of the Floud’s and they are hard-pressed to deny it. In the meantime, Ruggles is introduced to American ways. Then the Earl comes to visit and Ruggles has some decisions to make. With Zasu Pitts as Ruggles’ lady love and Leila Hyams as the local “bad girl”.
I smiled throughout this entire film, even when I had a little tear in my eye. I think this is Charlie Ruggles’ finest performance, and I always like him. Roland Young and Zasu Pitts are also perfectly charming. And just watch Charles Laughton recite the Gettysburg Address! This movie is great. My highest recommendation.
Charles Laughton recites the Gettysburg address
Leila Hyams teaches Roland Young how to play drums!