Topper (film)

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Topper
Directed byNorman Z. McLeod
Produced byHal Roach
Written byThorne Smith (novel)
Eric Hatch (screenplay)
StarringConstance Bennett
Cary Grant
Roland Young
Billie Burke
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • July 16, 1937 (1937-07-16)
Running time97 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
 
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Topper
Directed byNorman Z. McLeod
Produced byHal Roach
Written byThorne Smith (novel)
Eric Hatch (screenplay)
StarringConstance Bennett
Cary Grant
Roland Young
Billie Burke
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • July 16, 1937 (1937-07-16)
Running time97 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Topper (1937) is an American comedy film which tells the story of a stuffy, stuck-in-his-ways man who is haunted by the ghosts of a fun-loving married couple.

The film was adapted by Eric Hatch, Jack Jevne and Eddie Moran from the novel by Thorne Smith. The film was directed by Norman Z. McLeod, produced by Hal Roach, and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Constance Bennett, Cary Grant, Roland Young, and Billie Burke. Topper was a huge hit with film audiences in the summer of 1937 and Cary Grant had a percentage deal on the film. He made quite a bit of money on the successful film.

Topper was followed by the sequels Topper Takes a Trip (1938)[1] and Topper Returns (1941).[2] There was a television series,[3] which premiered in 1953 and ran for two seasons, starring Leo G. Carroll, Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys. In 1973, a television pilot for a proposed new series Topper Returns (1973)[4] was produced, starring Roddy McDowall, Stefanie Powers and John Fink. A TV movie remake, Topper (1979)[5] was also produced starring Kate Jackson, Jack Warden and Andrew Stevens.

In 1985, Topper was one of the first films to be re-released in color (see film colorization).

Contents

Plot

George and Marion Kerby are as rich as they are irresponsible. When George wrecks their classy sports car, they wake up from the accident as ghosts. Realizing they aren’t in heaven or hell because they’ve never been responsible enough to do good deeds or bad ones, they decide that freeing their old friend Cosmo Topper from his regimented lifestyle will be their ticket into heaven.

Cosmo Topper, a wealthy Wall Street banker, is trapped in a boring job. Worse still, Clara, his social-climbing wife, seems only to care about nagging him and presenting a respectable façade. On a whim, after George and Marion die, he buys George’s flashy sports car. Soon he meets the ghosts of his dead friends, and immediately they begin to liven up his dull life with drinking and dancing, flirting and fun.

The escapades lead quickly to Cosmo’s arrest, and the ensuing scandal alienates his wife Clara. When Cosmo moves out, however, she fears she has lost him forever. Her loyal butler suggests that she lighten up a bit; she decides he’s right and dons the lingerie and other attire of “a forward woman.” After Cosmo has a near-death experience and nearly joins George and Marion in the afterlife, Cosmo and Clara are happily reunited, and George and Marion, their good deed done, gladly depart for heaven.

Cast

The Car

Curiously, one of the most debated aspects of the film is the car that the Kerbys drove. Speculation has ranged from a modified Cord or Auburn to a completely custom built automobile of no distinct make. However, the car was in fact a re-bodied 1936 Buick Series 80 Roadmaster. Built solely for use in the film, it was later sold and used as an advertising vehicle for the Gilmore Oil Company, complete with a matching trailer that housed the sound equipment. Later acquired by General Petroleum, the car was re-styled in 1948 with less-then appealing results. As the Buick chassis aged and needed replacement, the car was overhauled in 1954 using a Chrysler Newport. Its current and final form is completely different than the original car; only the massive center dorsal fin on the tail recalls the first design.

Awards

Topper was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Young) and Best Sound, Recording (Elmer A. Raguse).[6]

Honors

American Film Institute Lists

References

External links