Piccadilly Jim (1936 film)
Theatrical release lobby card
|Directed by||Robert Z. Leonard|
|Produced by||Robert Z. Leonard
|Written by||Charles Brackett
Edwin H. Knopf
|Based on||Piccadilly Jim
by P. G. Wodehouse
|Music by||William Axt|
|Editing by||William S. Gray|
|Running time||95 minutes|
American caricaturist Jim Crocker is a popular womanizer in London known by his pen name 'Piccadilly Jim'. He supports his father James, an out-of-work actor with a great admiration for Shakespeare, but also with an inability to remember lines from the Bard's work. Most characters in the film describe James as a ham. Jim lives with his impeccable valet, Bayliss. Jim is happy when he finds out that his father is to be engaged to Eugenia Willis, until it turns out that Eugenia's overbearing sister, Nesta Pett, refuses to give permission for the marriage due to doubts of James' sincerity and his financial background. One morning, James' tries to introduce the Petts to his son, whom he describes as an artist, but Jim, who has stayed out all night drinking again, comes staggering in to find that Nesta Pett has discovered that the "artist" is a caricaturist, which does not impress her.
Meanwhile, Jim meets and falls in love with Ann Chester, Nesta Pett's niece, whom he meets in a nightclub. Ann is dating Lord Frederick 'Freddie' Priory, and therefore keeps her distance from Jim, despite his several failed attempts to get to know her better and to woo her. To worsen the matters, Jim finds out he is fired because he missed numerous deadlines, and the Petts take Eugenia and Ann with them to the French Riviera for a month, leaving James sad and Jim, who is clueless about Ann's family connection, wondering where she has disappeared to. But Jim has developed a comic strip based on the Petts (mainly Nesta, her husband, Herbert, and her son, Ogden), and it's a huge hit in England. The strip is titled 'From Rags to Riches', featuring the 'Richswitch Family'. The cartoons become an instant success, and Jim grows financially secure. He uses his new wealth to hire a team of detectives to find Ann.
When the Petts return to England, they are recognized as the people from the drawings, and are soon the joke of the town. This infuriates the family, including Ann. Jim, upon learning Ann is the niece of the Petts, hides his identity and instead poses as Bayliss' son. He finagles a way to spend a few hours with Ann before her family flees England for the United States, and he works out a way to cross to New York on the same ship as Ann and Lord Priory. Before leaving England, he tries to cancel the comic strip, but learns he doesn't own the rights to it. He also learns that the strip has been picked up by newspapers in the States.
Even though Jim makes the Richwitch Family characters more benevolent, Ann is furious when she finds out that 'Bayliss' son' is actually Piccadilly Jim. The Petts are, on the other hand, enjoying their popularity and welcome Jim. Meanwhile, James poses as the Danish count Olav Osric to impress the family as Eugenia's lover. Bayliss suspects that Ann's fiancée Freddie is not a descendent of the wealthy Priory family as he insists, so Jim tries to discredit Freddie. At a party, he announces that he will "unmask the imposter." James – as count Osric – feels this is addressed to him, so he reveals his true identity, and is immediately rejected by the Petts.
When he finds out that Freddie is not the liar Bayliss claimed he was, Jim decides to give up his hope in winning Ann's heart, and leaves for London. On the boat, Bayliss encourages him not to give up. Jim realize Bayliss is right, and he runs for shore, leaping onto the lowering gangplank, where he bumps into Ann, who by then also realized that she is in love with him. In the end, they kiss.
- Robert Montgomery as James 'Piccadilly Jim' Crocker, Jr.
- Frank Morgan as James Crocker/Count Olav Osric
- Madge Evans as Ann Chester
- Eric Blore as Bayliss
- Robert Benchley as Bill Macon
- Billie Burke as Eugenia Willis
- Ralph Forbes as Lord Frederick 'Freddie' Priory
- Cora Witherspoon as Nesta Pett
- Aileen Pringle as Paducah Pomeroy
- Grant Mitchell as Herbert Prett
David O. Selznick was initially set to produce the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical adaptation of Piccadilly Jim, and in late 1934, Robert Montgomery was assigned to be directed by J. Walter Ruben. Robert Benchley was hired to write the original screenplay, but Selznick replaced him with Rowland Lee in October 1934. The production was shelved for numerous months, until it was put on the schedule again in August 1935.
In preparation, Montgomery visited the original location of the story to "catch the true spirit" and visited "tailor after tailor" for Piccadilly clothes, to wear in the film. Casting and crew assignings resumed until May 1936.
Piccadilly Jim opened to positive reviews, and the film became a moderate success, which obscured soon from the public eye due to MGM's refusal to promote the film.
- Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1934
- "Notes for Piccadilly Jim (1936)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
- "Piccadilly Jim," With Robert Montgomery, Put on M.-G.-M. Schedule", Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1935
- "Robert Montgomery Bringing Costumes Back From Europe", The Deseret News, August 31, 1935, p. 6
- "Piccadilly Jim: Overview Article". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2011-09-115.