To Catch a Thief (1955)

One of the exciting races in the Formula One calendar is the Monaco Grand Prix. Located in the French Riviera, the race held in Monte-Carlo attracts a crowd worldwide. The famous Casino, the yacht parties that go on till the wee hours of the morning, are just attractions that make this race very exciting and a royal affair.

I had an opportunity to visit this place this summer. One of the first things that hit me as a Formula One buff is the pleasure of visiting one of your favourite circuits, which is built around the existing public roads of Monaco.

Although I missed the race by a good two months, it was a kick to do a lap around the circuit. The drive to Monaco from the Nice-Cannes highway reminded me of yet another favourite of mine, movies. One movie that instantly came to my mind was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller ‘To Catch a Thief.’

The story goes this way; John Robie, played by Cary Grant, is a retired jewel thief who was famous for his cat burglary, which earned him the name ‘The Cat.’

After having served as an undercover for the French Government during World War II, John Robie is a happy, relaxed leading a peaceful life in his vineyards along the French Riviera.

This was until one day, he reads about a series of burglaries committed, and police suspects him to be the one, as the jewel thefts were reminiscent of John Robie in his heydays.

High on the list is an American Millionaire, Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), who, along with her beautiful daughter Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly), is on a tour of Europe to search for a suitable husband for Frances.

To prove his innocence, John must become a jewel thief, and he takes the help of Frances and the insurance agent of Lloyds, Mr. H.H. Hughson, to catch the thief, the real thief who had committed a series of thefts in a typical John Robie manner.

A car chase is an integral part of all the four collaborations of Hitchcock and Cary Grant) where Grace Kelly (incidentally, on the very same road that, years later, would lead to her death) drives Grant down the famous and winding Three Corniches along the Cote d’Azur.

An example of Grant’s charisma is in the picnic scene- Grace Kelly offers him a choice of breast or thigh from her basket of goodies, and he, in his charismatic style, responds, “The choice is yours.”

In the end, John Robie manages to catch the copy cat who turns out to be a young girl (Danielle) played by Brigitte Auber, daughter of one of his former colleagues. The movie opened with mixed reviews due to delays in releasing and became one of the biggest hits of the 1950s.

Keeping the box-office standards of Cary Grant of the 1940s, many of his movies in the 1950s didn’t meet expectations. Therefore Cary Grant had decided to retire himself from the film.

With his age being 50, he felt the movie industry had moved on with the emergence of youth like Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. He spent some good time with his wife Betsy Drake, who was half his age before making a comeback when he heard the script of ‘To Catch a Thief.’

Much to Betsy Drake’s displeasure, he went ahead and started shooting this movie at the French Riviera. Betsy Drake accompanied him to the shoot, as she was less than thrilled of him doing love scenes with Grace Kelly.

This movie mirrors Cary Grant’s real-life in many aspects. In the film, the so-called cat burglar insists he is retired, moved on something which the police authorities have trouble believing in, and took the thief’s role to catch the real thief.

Cary Grant had previously announced his retirement from films twice in real life, yet he was out there shooting for this movie.

In the movie, Robie is attracted to a beautiful blonde who is half his age; in real life, he was married to a beautiful blonde, Betsy Drake, half his age.

Another mirroring point, Robie proves his innocence in one last robbery to prove his innocence, and in real life, he came out of retirement to make one last movie to prove he was still the star of the highest order.

In his usual style of making cameos, Alfred Hitchcock, about 10 minutes into the movie, is seen sitting next to John Robie on a bus. The film was nominated for four Oscars (Best Cinematography Colour, Best Art Direction, Best Set Decoration Colour, and Best Costume Design Colour) and won a single Oscar for Best Cinematography Colour (Robert Burks).

Produced by Paramount Pictures, the movie’s story was inspired by David Dodge’s novel of the same name. Set in the picturesque French Riviera, this was the last Grace Kelly movie for Alfred Hitchcock (previous being, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window). She later married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became Princess of Monaco till her death in 1982 due to a car accident.

Released in 1955, To Catch a Thief was a sort of ‘comeback’ movie for Cary Grant, who went on to act for few more years till he finally retired in 1966 at the age of sixty-two.

My Favourite Wife (1940)

Marilyn Monroe took the role in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ to extreme heights before bidding a farewell to everyone from this world. Doris Day, similarly in ‘Move over Darling’ was charming and did justice to her role.

While one movie had to be abandoned, the other was seen as a good remake of this 1940 movie.

My Favourite Wife is the one in the discussion that gave the source to the movies mentioned above while being inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Enoch Arden.”

This movie had a pre-cursor, plot-wise in the silent era, most notably D W Griffith’s epic ‘Enoch Arden’ in two parts made in 1911. Ellen Arden (Irene Dunne) is supposedly killed in a shipwreck seven years ago. Her husband, Nick Arden (Cary Grant), after having hoped all these years to see his wife come back, decides to have her issued dead in the court. This would ensure he could move on and marry Bianca (Gail Patrick) legally. Nick has two kids from Ellen.

Nick and Bianca get married and are on their way to their honeymoon.

Twist in the tale as Ellen appears after having been rescued by a ship from a distant island. She comes home and gets to know about Nick’s wedding and feels sad about him moving on with life. She decides to surprise him and goes to the hotel where the newlywed couples have booked their honeymoon suite.

The expression on the face of Nick upon seeing Ellen is a treat for audiences. He feels guilty about the fact that he cannot embrace his long-lost wife with the same compassion. At the same time, he cannot think about his newlywed status with Bianca.

Hesitation to come out with Bianca’s truth, he escapes from confrontation, and the scenes have been shot well, portraying Nick’s denial to face the truth. Nick is jealous that Ellen had spent the last seven years with a guy on that island. He was curious to know who that guy was. Ellen tries to camouflage this fact by introducing a dumb guy so that Nick doesn’t have an issue to get back at her. Incidentally, Nick, driven by jealousy, decides to find who that guy was. It turns out to be quite a handsome guy.

Unable to bear this, he expresses his irritation to Ellen. In the meantime, Bianca is confused as to why she isn’t able to live with Nick and keeps wondering what’s going on in Nick’s mind. He tends to avoid her whenever she tries to get close to him or when she is in a mood to make love.

Out of two wives, Nick has to make a choice. He chooses his favourite wife, and that being Ellen. One can sympathise with Bianca as I feel she has been wronged here. But, since this being a movie on the lines of screwball comedy, one can imagine having characters like Bianca.

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant match their previous success on a husband-wife theme, The Awful Truth. In particular, Irene Dunne looks fresh, and one cannot believe she was older than Cary Grant in real life. The scenes involving the hotel manager and the judge are mind blowing-ly funny. Randolph Scott plays the role of Steve Burkett, who accompanied Ellen on the deserted island.

Directed by Garson Kanin, this movie was initially slated to be directed by Leo McCarey. A freak accident prevented him from executing and hired Garson Kanin to do the honours.

The movie was a success and managed to receive three Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Music – Original Score, and Best Writing – Original Story (looks like by altering story and some of its elements from another play are considered original).

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Baranca, a small stop in South America where Dutchman owns an airmail service, is where Bonnie (Jean Arthur) makes a stop. She encounters a group of mail pilots in a social shack.

The head of these mail comrades is Geoff Carter (Cary Grant), who has ample confidence yet retains the charm and sophistication.

It isn’t surprising Bonnie is falling for him. These mail pilots’ work is quite a tricky one, as the natural mountain slides coupled with tropical weather are always a recipe for an aviation disaster, the main being the plane crash—Geoff ventures to flying only under challenging circumstances.

Bonnie, amazed by Geoff, is repeatedly shut off whenever she tried getting to know Geoff better. It is evident, Geoff is cynical towards women and vows not to take any favours from them.

Each of his choices has a history behind it. His daring lifestyle didn’t go well with his ex, and as a result, she left him. It had a profound effect on his way of thinking. He became tougher, a touch more than what he was.

In the sub-plot, a couple comes down to Baranca. They both have a connection to Geoff and the group of mail pilots. Bat Macpherson (Richard Barthelmess) is seen as a villain in the eyes of all the pilots.

He once jumped out of the plane leaving behind the mechanic moments before the plane crash. This didn’t go well with the team and more so with Kid, who lost his brother in that crash. The agency was on the lookout for more pilots, and Bat was looking for a new challenge.

Bat’s wife Judy (Rita Hayworth) was Geoff’s ex. Her presence made Geoff a bit tougher on Bat and made it difficult to forget the past. One of the best scenes is when Judy gets drunk and has a word with Geoff; in some ways, clarity is provided as to why things happened and how it unfolded in the past.

Not a man to live in his emotions, Geoff is in serious need of workforce to get the Government’s contract. He offers the job to Bat, as he realises there is none better than him to weather the storm.

In a mission to deliver the cylinders, Bat is accompanied by Kid. Not in good terms, while flying, they encounter the storm as they try to deliver the goods.

Flying across Andes Mountains during a storm isn’t an easy task, and while Bat is trying his best to reach the destination, a bird hits the plane, and it catches fire. Bat battles it out and lands the aircraft amidst the fire on it. Kid is badly injured, and he dies not before he tells Geoff about Bat’s bravery.

Bonnie, unable to get the attention from Geoff, decides to leave Baranca. – “I am hard to get Geoff; all you have to do is ask me”. Geoff offers her a coin. Heads – she stays and Tails – she leaves.

Before he starts to toss the coin, the clouds clear and Geoff runs down to the flight for his next mission. Bonnie waits as she decides not to leave hurriedly and hopes to toss the coin with heads being on both sides.

I was amazed by Jean Arthur’s characterisation in this movie. This was my first movie of hers, and I was fascinated by her charm, and no wonder she remains one of my favorites. Beauty, brains, and a wonderful actor, that’s Jean Arthur to sum it up.

On the other hand, it was another scintillating performance by Cary Grant, who puts his coat of sophistication to perfection.

Rita Hayworth was provided with the acting platform to play prominent stream roles and achieve fame in the years to come. Directed by Howard Hawks, this 1939 classic was nominated for two Oscars under Best Cinematography (B/W) and Best Special effects (Audio and Visual).

Holiday (1938)

We live in a world where numbers form a majority. How much ever an individual tries to be different, he or she often encounters the majority, be it in the form of opinions, values, or the way things need to be handled, and the best of all is, the way to lead one’s life.

Wish it was as simple as following a book of code written by one individual. The point is not to berate or deride the opinions made by the person who shared his views on leading life; the mistake is to believe that is the only way to lead a life.

Holiday epitomises such kind of mood through various protagonists who dare to question the status quo. Johnny Case (Cary Grant) a charming young businessman who goes by his inner voice. One can see how he goes about his life and the view he holds for his life.

He is in love with Julia Seton (Doris Nolan) and proposes to her to marry him. She agrees. How often we marry the person we love and say we share each other’s vision for life?

Are we complacent that we can persuade the other partner to make them come to terms with our expectations?

Well, to make love, it isn’t. To marry, it becomes the talking point. The free spirit that often embodies the lovers is narrowed when the talk of marriage does the rounds.

What is it that marriage continues to hold a different view?

Marriage involves society to a more considerable extent, and this has continued through ages and will continue. One can fall in love, and that’s acceptable, but can we marry the same in all situations? Often society comes to the picture, and in immense interest, I believe it’s a form of excuse unless it considers the individual.

Johnny is surprised to know the wealthy status of Julia. He meets Linda (Katherine Hepburn), Julia’s free-spirited sister, and Ned (Lew Ayres), who feel bottled up under their father’s authoritarian behaviour.

The movie has a kid’s playroom analogous and quite a contrast to the outer world, which calls for increased sophistication and hypocrisy. Linda is in love with Johnny as she finds him to be the right guy who would respect and complement her free-spiritedness.

Although Johnny is in love with Julia, he can’t deny that he is intellectually connected to Linda.

Irrespective of her being rich, he is keen on holding on to his dreams. On the other hand, Julia is convinced about Johnny accepting her dad’s proposal of working and earning money. While asking Julia’s hand, Johnny speaks his heart to her dad, which surprises Julia.

The idea of Johnny working for few years and then taking a holiday to discover his life doesn’t fit the bill of pragmatism as per Julia and her dad. Although he couldn’t convince Julia, Johnny convinced Linda with his Vivre de Joie without convincing her.

The movie isn’t a serious one; it has well-written dialogues and is more of a romantic comedy-drama.

The child playroom is often seen as a metaphor to allow the kid within us to be playful even while growing each day.

Directed by George Cukor, this movie brings out the best of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and the chemistry they share on-screen is something that’s been talked about by many over the years. The storyline isn’t out of the box but a simple reflection on the society we live in.

The playroom scenes of tricycles, puppets, and other horse saddling remind us that each individual has a fearless child inside us who loves to enjoy irrespective of what others think in its fashion. This certainly is one of my favourite Cary Grant movies.

Released in 1938, Holiday is a remake of the 1930 movie of the same title. Holiday managed to get a Oscar nomination under the category of Best Art direction with the affluent sets being used.

Suzy (1936)

This is a story where one has love, marriage, accusations of murder, falling in love with another man, World war, and reuniting with an ex-lover. At second glance, it is indeed a movie that contains many themes tied by a heavy screenplay, and we have George Fitzmaurice’s drama ‘Suzy.’

Title protagonist Jean Harlow is an entertainer who dreams big of marrying a rich guy. Luck has it; she falls in love with an inventor Terry (Franchot Tone), in London.

This was the time when World War I was in progress. Early days of marriage, Suzy’s husband discovers her employer to be a German spy. He is killed by Madame Eyrelle (Benita Hume) after becoming aware of her true identity (spy). The blame is put on Suzy, and to avoid imprisonment, she flees to Paris.

Part two of the story takes place when she encounters Andre (Cary Grant), a French aviator and a famous playboy. Suzy falls in love with Andre, and they both decide to get married. Love is a strange thing, and the reciprocations didn’t seem to be present, although they both seem to like each other a lot. Expectations, I suppose.

Andre was the son of a rich French celebrated hero. A palatial place to live, often Suzy is found alone in Andre’s absence. Andre’s father ensures Suzy is well-taken care of, and very soon, they become quite good pals. She writes letters under the pretext of Andre to keep the older man going.

Part Three of the movie – Surprise, Surprise. Terry is alive (he was severely wounded, not killed), and more so, he is Andre’s buddy. Terry is livid to hear about Suzy, and he blames her nature of being a gold digger. He questions her decision to leave him and flee. She takes it as a sponge would soak water without disclosing the accusations she had to bear for his supposed murder.

Part Four shows – Once a playboy, you remain one throughout. Andre’s fascination and slip for women are exploited by Madame Eyrelle, who now need to know more about the war plans through Andre.

Surprisingly Terry and Madame do not recognise each other when they bump into each other. The damage had been done before Madame Eyrelle’s true identity is revealed to Andre. He is killed, and Terry dons Andre’s plane and fights it out, ensuring enemies have none of it.

Part five – A celebrity burial is provided to Andre as Suzy strongly believed, any disclosure of the truth would hurt Andre’s father’s sentiments. Andre’s behaviour was close to being detrimental to his country.

Suzy and Terry reunite, and there ends this drama. The movie has a song, “Did I remember,” which was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar, tailor-made for Jean Harlow.

Released in 1936, the war flying scenes from this movie were the outtakes from the 1930 super hit Howard Hughes movie ‘Hells Angels.’ Herbert Gorman’s write up on the newspaper inspires the screenplay written by four writers.

Gunga Din (1939)

Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s poem, the movie is set in the mid-1800s when the British regiment had made a settlement in India. There were quite a few rebellious groups formed to eliminate the British rule, with resistance coming from all quarters.

This movie had one such group who revered Goddess Kali (an important deity in Hindu mythology, Goddess of Blood) dedicated their lives to destroy the British army.

The movie is about a Hindu water carrier called ‘Gunga Din.’ Since childhood, he always wanted to be in the army. He was not allowed, which never bothered him as he learned the military’s tricks by observing the soldiers.

He gets friendly with Sgt Cutter and also tells him about the gold which can be taken back from a Kali temple. Parallely, there is an uprising of a religious group under the leadership of Swami, played by Eduardo Ciannelli.

The group had previously attacked many such regiments at different villages, and now they had made arrangements to eliminate the British army in that area.

I am not comfortable using the technical word for such groups. Although in English and the movie, they are referred to as ‘Thuggees’, I will not use the name. During the British rule, it was the perception, and often such groups were branded as enemies and not seen as patriots.

From a movie’s point of view, I can only talk about performances on screen. The film talks about three army sergeants and the rapport they shared working together. Sgt Archibald Cutter (Cary Grant), Sgt Mac Chesney (Victor Mc Laglen), and Sgt Ballantine (Douglas Fairbank Jr) are fun-loving army personnel who love going on adventures together.

All was fine until one of them decides to leave the service to get married. In what is called a final mission, the two trick the soon to be groom to be a part of the troop.

In search of gold, Sgt Cutter and Gunga Din get trapped in a massive religious group gathering. As a part of the plan, Sgt Cutter surrenders to the group while instructing Gunga Din to inform his army troop about the place and situation.

Call it miscommunication; the two friends, along with Gunga Din, turn up at the temple. All are caught, and Gunga Din is branded as a traitor for helping the British. While in the temple, the three musketeers get to know the master plan of the rebellion to eliminate the entire British army.

The last part of the movie talks about Gunga Din’s gallantry, who risks his life to warn the British troops and manages to convey the message of the traps set by the rebellion.

On the other hand, it talks about the patriotism of Swami and his men, who are fighting for their freedom, for their country.

Although, the methods employed are violent, it wasn’t for fun. They had a purpose, and they went about in their way.

In a periodic movie to some extent, George Stevens displays his taste for humour showcases army staff enjoying a good laugh as they went about waging wars. Joan Fontaine plays the sole female in few scenes and fails to capture the audience in a bland role. Sam Jaffe in the title role impresses with his tailor-made acting of a Hindu water carrier.

“Tho’ I’ve belted you and flayed you, by the livin’ Gawd that made you, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!” – Rudyard Kipling, last line of his highly acclaimed poem of the same name.

Released in 1939, RKO productions made this movie, which was the costliest at that time. Considering the war scenes and sets resembling rural India, the film was aptly nominated for an Oscar in the Best Cinematography Black and White category.

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

If there is one particular theme I like in movies, it is the theme of Christmas. Films with such a theme instill a sense of belief and give a lot of people some hope. Hope to lead life.

If it wasn’t through life, it was through movies that people found hope, and even today, films are widely considered a medium where people find hope.

After a long gap, Loretta Young (The Bishop’s Wife) shares the screen space with Cary Grant (Dudley). To be precise, their last movie together was Born to be Bad, released in 1934.

David Niven plays a bishop’s role, whose role is mainly limited to the ambiguity between the new cathedral’s funds, family, and principles.

Why is this movie special? Is it because it has Cary Grant playing one of the most refreshing roles of his life?

Cary Grant, in his role as Dudley, plays the character of an angel. An angel who sometimes resembles our inner voice. In this chaotic world, one hardly listens to our inner voice; since it’s an opinion or a thought restricted to ourselves.

But when a feel-good thought comes from others’ suggestions, we usually pick it up and apply them on a higher percentage scale.

In short, people who are optimistic about their lives listen to such suggestions and go about leading their lives catalysed by such thoughts or ideas.

Even if it is for a short time, it is the jump start one needs to refresh and get out of crossroads. Professor, The Bishop’s wife, Mrs. Hamilton, and few others are the ones who had lost hopes in their respective lives, and an angel restored the same.

Dudley says, “Angel can be anyone on the street. Someone you don’t know but can bring in a lot of change in the way we would like to lead our lives.”

The other side of the coin, cynicism, exists as displayed by the Bishop, who refuses to believe in miracles, though being the almighty’s mortal messenger. He was adamant about building the cathedral; he even went to the extent of compromising his principles to raise funds.

His real prayers (raising funds) were finally answered, though not in a way he wanted. But who would question the method of an angel? The Bishop certainly did but didn’t succeed in overpowering the methods.

Dudley, the angel, spends most of his time with Julia, the Bishop’s wife, and their kid Debby, yet manages to answer the Bishop’s prayers. Strange method indeed.

The problem of funds was never looked at, and this movie epitomises true human nature emphasising the importance of winning over someone’s heart to get what we truly want.

Dudley won the heart of Mrs. Hamilton, who finally relented to the angel’s advice and decided to shed her ego. Donating her money, she helps the Bishop build his dream, the cathedral, which would provide shelter to the needy.

Dudley had to leave once the prayers were answered, but it was tough as he was attached to Bishop’s wife, cursed himself for being an angel; as he realised being an immortal, it was impossible to beat a mortal to win over a mortal’s heart.

Directed by Henry Koster, this 1947 movie was nominated in five different categories, including Best Picture, and it did manage to win one for the Best Sound Recording.

That Touch of Mink (1962)

Philip Shayne, a wealthy businessman, is a guy who possesses a lot of charm. This charm made Cathy Timberlake, an old fashioned country girl to go mad.

She has found the man of his dreams and cannot think of any other guy apart from him. Philip Shayne, played by Cary Grant, meets Cathy when his Rolls Royce splashes mud on her dress and later calls her up to apologise.

After apologising in the office, he is quite impressed by her honest heart. He decides to take her for his meetings, wherein she intervenes and, to his surprise, manages to convince the other members to negotiate a deal successfully.

Philip takes her out to a baseball match at the Yankees stadium. He owns a part of the team. We get to see baseball stars like ‘Yogi Berra,’ Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris playing themselves getting thrown out for violating the rules.

Although Philip is very much interested in her, he has no plans of getting married, and there comes a clash because of her background. She believes in the traditional norms of getting married and start a family. In contrast, he is just looking for an affair.

After much persuasion, she finally agrees to go on a holiday trip to Bermuda with him. She develops a psychosomatic rash on her body, much to her disappointment and frustration.

To overcome the disappointment, she wants to repeat the Bermuda trip and hence reaches earlier than Philip. She drinks to calm her nerves, ends up drinking lots. When Philip arrives, he finds her in a drunken state, and she makes a fool of herself and to such an extent that she falls from the window. Dressed in pyjamas, she orders the hotel servicemen to take her to his room, while others her have a good laugh about it.

In the end, she finally manages to convince him to get married, and funnily in their honeymoon, he develops a rash.

This movie also happens to be the last movie, where Cary Grant persuades a girl. In his next film, Charade, Audrey Hepburn persuades him, as per Grant’s request, because of the 25 year age difference.

Released in 1962, That Touch of Mink was directed by Delbert Mann, was nominated for three Oscars in Best Art Direction, Best Sound, and Best Screenplay & Writing – directly for the screen categories.

Father Goose (1964)

Walter Christopher Eckland, played by Cary Grant, is a vagrant who is living on a beach. During WWII, he is persuaded by the British Authorities to spy on the planes passing on the island. Reluctantly, he goes about his job. Commander Frank Houghton being an old friend of Mr. Eckland, it was a matter of obligation to be deserted on an island and spy.

During his stay on the island, he encounters a school teacher Catherine Freneau, played by Leslie Caron, stranded on the island and few children. They have managed to escape from the Japanese and thus seek shelter by taking Mr. Eckland’s help.

Mr. Eckland, as a result of a lady and kids, finds himself to be out of the house and finds shelter in his boat, which is semi-damaged.

The story involves a series of funny incidents between Mr. Eckland and Catherine over many issues. With time, they get each other’s perspective and start appreciating. Also, a change of attitude towards children is seen in Mr. Eckland as he takes up Catherine and the children’s responsibility.

He builds his boat so that it could be used to escape when the Japanese invade the island. Catherine and Mr. Eckland fall in love with each other and get married to the minister playing the priest’s role and perform the rituals via a radio transmitter. Japanese airplanes strike the island right after the wedding ritual.

While they wait for the submarine from the Navy to arrive, the Japanese invade the island. Mr. Eckland manages to distract the Japanese and escape safely.

Released in 1964, Father Goose was a romantic comedy directed by Ralph Nelson. It was nominated for three Oscars and won one Oscar for Best Screenplay, Writing. Other categories include Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

Topper (1937)

George Kerby, a wealthy businessman, played by Cary Grant, has a way to enjoy his life. His lifestyles are complimented by his wife Marion Kerby, played by Constance Bennett.

This life contrasts to that of Cosmo Topper, played by Roland Young, who leads a much planned and scheduled life. He is the chairman of a bank of which George is one of the board members.

Controlled mostly by his wife Clara, Cosmo Topper leads a life of mechanical routine, something he cannot change and is forced by his wife to dictate matters in every matter of his life.

George and Marion, fuelled by the energetic adrenaline, die in a car accident. To enter the passage of heaven, they must do some good deeds. So they are turned into ‘transparent ghosts.’

Topper is upset to hear the news of Kerby’s death. He buys the Kerby’s car and meets with an accident when excited by its speed, loses control of the vehicle. The Kerby couple introduces themselves to Cosmo. Cosmo Topper becomes a target to gain entry to heaven. Marion looks set to change Cosmo’s life.

A lot of laughs in the next part of the story, mainly the mess Cosmo Topper gets into because of the pranks played by Marion and George.

As a result of his newfound spontaneity, Cosmo’s popularity increases and attracts many social invitations.

The comical scenes are well shot throughout the movie. The hotel scene, lipstick mark on Cosmo’s cheek, Clara Topper gets annoyed with Cosmo’s new found lifestyle, Marion tempting Cosmo, Jealous George wanting to settle scores with Marion and Cosmo, the dog house detective scene, the car being driven with no driver and many more.

The movie culminates when Cosmo is getting treated in hospital after he meets with an accident. Clara promises him not to be dominant in the future. Kerby’s bid goodbye to Topper as they head towards the gates of heaven.

Released in 1937, Topper was adapted from a novel by ‘Thorne Smith,’ directed by Norman Z McLeod. This was the first black and white movie to be ‘colorized’ in 1985.

It earned two Oscar nominations – Roland Young for Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Recording.