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Ruggles of Red Gap !


misswonderly3
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I'd heard of this film, but knew absolutely nothing about it. Decided, pretty much at the last minute, to watch it.

I'm so glad I did.What a pleasant surprise ! I had no idea what to expect, I only knew Charles Laughton, an actor I usually like, was in it.

 

i couldn't stop smiling.  All the actors are note perfect in this, but Laughton outdoes himself. He looks like he had a ball, making this good-natured Leo McCarey comedy.

 

I knew I was going to have fun fairly early on, when Egbert and his pal get the poe-faced Ruggles drunk. The silly smirk that appears on Laughton's stodgy features is priceless.

 

I don't really know why, but sometimes a comedy just "works", everything seems just right. Somehow the planets must have been in alignment or something when this was made. Of course, you do have to make sure you're brought your suspension of disbelief kit along, but that's ok.

 

I suppose,if you wanted to nitpick, you could say that the Gettysburg speech scene was a bit eye-roll worthy. It does seem as though every other American -made movie back then had to get all dewy-eyed and patriotic for at least one point in the film. But even this "works", and Laughton does a fine job of delivering Lincoln's famous words. According to Robert Osborne, the scene was very difficult for Laughton, and he needed a bit of a rest afterwards.

 

Anyway - I found this movie I'd heard of for years but never had any ambition to watch was truly charming and entertaining. Glad I decided to check it out.

 

 

 

It just got better as it went along.

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I believe I read that Laughton performed the Gettsburg Address before troops during the war, which is hardly a surprise.

 

I remember an appearance that the actor also made during the '50s on The Abbott and Costello Show on television in which he repeated the address. It was a "serious" moment on the show in which Laughton was allowed to give a decently moving recitation of Lincoln's address. He did so at times leaning on Lou Costello's shoulder. You know it's serious because Costello was quiet and respectful while he did it.

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I enjoyed reading your write-up, MissW, this is a favorite of mine, too. Even though I saw this film for the first time fairly recently I already consider it an old favorite. I giggled all the way through.

 

Roland Young, Charlie Ruggles, Mary Boland, everyone was fantastic. Charles Laughton's every expression was priceless.

 

It was the first film I saw Charles Laughton in, and Roland Young, too. (Heck, that was probably the first time I saw all those people, being the greenhorn I am.) What an introduction! Roland Young was love at first sight, (or at first utterance) and I was so happy he showed up again later in the film. I especially like the scene where he escapes out the window with Egbert to avoid the party, and not knowing how to tie his tie.

 

Such a great film. I look forward to seeing it again and again.

 

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I suppose,if you wanted to nitpick, you could say that the Gettysburg speech scene was a bit eye-roll worthy. It does seem as though every other American -made movie back then had to get all dewy-eyed and patriotic for at least one point in the film.

 

As opposed to, what? Breaking out into a hockey game?

 

I joke I joke. I keed I keed.

 

So glad The Benevolent Copyright Gods permitted Ruggles to be seen up Canada way. I remember seeing it almost a year ago when Mary Boland got a wonderful and much much much much deserved day on SUTS.

 

ANY TIME you see her name is something, it is really worth watching...from The Women and Pride and Prejudice to this weirdassed thing that I can't remember the title of that she did where a bunch of rich people are shipwrecked on a tropical island and she- I think- confiscates all the supplies and befriends the natives and appoints herself their queen. (Maltin gave it a star and a half.It merited at least three on premise alone. Maltin is an idiot.)

 

Anyhow, I didn't like Ruggles as much the first time I saw it a year ago as I did tonight, I think it's a film that improves on second viewing.

 

To me Ruggles is a film that is not about America. It is not a film about England. It is a very thoughtful film about the two cultures and where they had come to be in relation to one another in both the present and the past.

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I enjoyed reading your write-up, MissW, this is a favorite of mine, too. Even though I saw this film for the first time fairly recently I already consider it an old favorite. I giggled all the way through.

 

Roland Young, Charlie Ruggles, Mary Boland, everyone was fantastic. Charles Laughton's every expression was priceless.

 

It was the first film I saw Charles Laughton in, and Roland Young, too. (Heck, that was probably the first time I saw all those people, being the greenhorn I am.) What an introduction! Roland Young was love at first sight, (or at first utterance) and I was so happy he showed up again later in the film. I especially like the scene where he escapes out the window with Egbert to avoid the party, and not knowing how to tie his tie.

 

Such a great film. I look forward to seeing it again and again.

If you are relying on only TCM, you won't be seeing it again and again.

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this weirdassed thing that I can't remember the title of that she did where a bunch of rich people are shipwrecked on a tropical island and she- I think- confiscates all the supplies and befriends the natives and appoints herself their queen. (Maltin gave it a star and a half.It merited at least three on premise alone. Maltin is an idiot.)

 

 

Down to Their Last Yacht is the title of that one, I believe.

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I first saw Ruggles of Red Gap at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC probably sometime during the mid-80's, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The thing that I remember most vividly about that experience, however, is the fact that after Charles Laughton finished the Gettysburg Address the audience burst into applause.  I can only recall one other instance when an audience applauded a non-musical moment in a movie and that was for Katharine Hepburn's speech to Virginia Christine when she sends her on her way near the beginning of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

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I was surprised the audience in the actual film - the saloon patrons - didn't burst into applause. But perhaps their awed silence is more effective.

 

Here's a pic of Charles Laughton and company in the scene where he firsts gets drunk. The still cannot convey how funny Laughton is in that scene. He keeps smiling, in a dazed way, as though he's not quite used to it (smiling. Being drunk too, come to think of it.) I fully acknowledge, "cute" is not exactly a word that comes to mind when speaking of Charles Laughton. But in that scene, I find him hilarious and, yes, cute.

 

ruggles4.png

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This isn't the first time Ruggles has been shown. It's been shown every now and again over the years on TCM, just like most films. I'm pretty sure this is not the first time it's been shown this year.

 

I'm relatively sure it hasn't played since it was featured on Mary Boland's SUTS day almost a year ago.

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I actually love the recitation of the speech and the subsequent non reaction of the others in the pub. It meant to me that Ruggles, perhaps at that moment, realizes that he's an equal, rather than servant, to everyone. And that he knows more about his adopted country than native born folks. It may be corny, but it found it extraordinarily moving. But that speech is quite important to me.

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Oh, and I meant to mention: is anyone else a little bemused by the fact that a guy named Ruggles is in a movie with a title character named Ruggles, but he does not  play Ruggles. And of all the names in the world to be involved in a coincidence....

 

Anyhoo, Charlie Ruggles was a damn good actor. He physically looks the same (more or less) in Bringing Up Baby as he does in Ruggles, but otherwise sounds, moves and acts so utterly different in both films that he's not recognized with ease.

 

I can't say as I recall seeing him in much else...

 

edit- just checked. I've seen him in Murders in the Zoo, an odd role and an odd film, but he does some interesting things with it.

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Could be Lorna, but I know I've watched Ruggles a few times on TCM, I know a poster who I think knows how to check, I'll pm them to ask. At any rate it is going to be shown again on September 7th.That's only 2 months from now, so obviously it is on TCM's radar. It's a wonderful film and I've never seen it on any other station, so isn't it great that TCM does show it.

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Lorna, I too had noticed the coincidence of one of the lead's actual name being "Ruggles".

Wonder how many jokes the cast and crew made about it at the time...shirley a few.

Funny thing is, "Ruggles" is a pretty uncommon name, I would think even in England. So what are the odds that one of the actors in the film is in real life named "Ruggles"?

 

Roland Young was also very enjoyable as the stereotypical English lord. I say, what, what? Yes, quite.

 

Poor Mary Boland ! He abandoned her party ! Via a window !

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...It is a very thoughtful film about the two cultures and where they had come to be in relation to one another in both the present and the past.

 

That is what I've always taken from RORG also, Lorna. However, in examining the Anglo-American relationship in this film, it definitely is a comment upon the contrasting cultures of the British Class System of its time against that of the concept of the American Populism system, and of course with this film ultimately siding with the latter of these two precepts as being the superior social model.

 

I've always loved these sorts of films which examine this relationship and contrasts between the U.S. and its "Mother Country", a few other examples of this being THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY and A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH(aka the American title of STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN)

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That is what I've always taken from RORG also, Lorna. However, in examining the Anglo-American relationship in this film, it definitely is a comment upon the contrasting cultures of the British Class System of its time against that of the concept of the American Populism system, and of course with this film ultimately siding with the latter of these two precepts as being the superior social model....

 

I agree, Dargo, a big part of what the film's all about is this comment on "the contrasting cultures...".

What's discouraging, however, is that you can see that this British snobbery, despite characters like Egbert Floud, is seeping into American society too.

Look at how insufferably snooty and class-conscious Mrs. Floude is. And her brother, or whoever that nasty guy is who "fires" Ruggles.

And, I hate to say it, but I've seen many American films which depict  Americans practising class snobbery that's just as intense and pig-headed and undemocratic as their British cousins.

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I'm relatively sure it hasn't played since it was featured on Mary Boland's SUTS day almost a year ago.

 

Mary Boland's SUTS day was the first time I saw this film, but I'm sure it has played at least once since then because I remember re-watching the ending. I don't remember what theme it was played during. Maybe it'll come back to me.

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I agree, Dargo, a big part of what the film's all about is this comment on "the contrasting cultures...".

What's discouraging, however, is that you can see that this British snobbery, despite characters like Egbert Floud, is seeping into American society too.

Look at how insufferably snooty and class-conscious Mrs. Floude is. And her brother, or whoever that nasty guy is who "fires" Ruggles.

And, I hate to say it, but I've seen many American films which depict  Americans practising class snobbery that's just as intense and pig-headed and undemocratic as their British cousins.

 

And so have I, MissW. Good point.

 

I've always felt(and I know I'm not alone here) that what Americans are often most uneasy talking about OR admitting is that there IS somewhat of  a "Class System" in their own backyard. However, because of the idea that "everyone is free to be a success in this country", (an idea which downplays the effects of "happenstance of birth" and which very often IS a strong decider of who IS "successful" and who isn't) this societal phenomenon is seldom examined as much as it maybe should be, and with the issue of "Race" in America most often being more focused upon than is "Class". 

 

(...hey...wait a second...I'm gettin' MUCH too serious here...okay...now where can I go make a joke in another thread...now THAT'S more like me, HUH!) LOL

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Worth noting (I think) is that RUGGLES OF RED GAP received a best picture nomination in 1935 along with two other Charles Laughton films.  Laughton also was nominated in the best actor category for 1935. He probably would have won best actor if not for the fact that he had  already won the award in 1933.  And I will always say that Laughton should have won the best actor award in 1939. He could have (should have?) been a three time winner in the 1930's.  The more I watch Charles Laughton the more I appreciate his talents.

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Worth noting (I think) is that RUGGLES OF RED GAP received a best picture nomination in 1935 along with two other Charles Laughton films.  Laughton also was nominated in the best actor category for 1935. He probably would have won best actor if not for the fact that he had  already won the award in 1933.  And I will always say that Laughton should have won the best actor award in 1939. He could have (should have?) been a three time winner in the 1930's.  The more I watch Charles Laughton the more I appreciate his talents.

1939, as we know, was an outstanding year for films and performances. Even so, for Laughton to not receive an Oscar nomination for his performance as Quasimodo (in a year in which the very popular Mickey Rooney did receive one for a musical) is definitely an injustice.

 

His performance as Ruggles is a fine comedy effort, but his Captain Bligh that same year was too dominating to be denied a nomination in 1935.

 

If I had to go with one Laughton performance as my favourite, it would probably be Quasimodo (all the more remarkable because he is so wonderfully expressive even with all that makeup on his face). Laughton theorized that being homosexual somehow heightened his sensitivities as an actor. I wonder if being gay (and an outsider from the mainstream of society) as well as a physically unattractive man didn't help him to emotionally to connect with the role of the hunchback. Whatever, I think his performance in that film is one for the ages.

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Love this movie. The Gettysburg Address bit doesn't really do it for me as much as all the great comedy bits. Laughton and (Charlie) Ruggles endlessly maneuvering to get the other to go through a door first. Laughton's quiet "Yippie". Falling in love over culinary technique comparisons. The refusal of just about everybody to ever acknowledge Laughton's servant status, despite all his best efforts. Great stuff.

 

And you'll find Charlie Ruggles in other stuff on TCM if you're patient enough. For me, one of his all-time great roles is in IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE, which has aired on the network around Christmas in a number of recent years. He's in one or two Maurice Chevalier movies. MURDERS IN THE ZOO is good. He's one of those actors who worked almost exclusively on television the final 20 years of his career (one exception: SON OF FLUBBER), so we're pretty much not gonna see him in anything post-1950 on TCM.

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