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Ruggles of Red Gap Reviews

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Super Reviewer

August 4, 2013
Five wonderfully distinctive performers, Laughton, Charlie Ruggles, ZaSu Pitts, Mary Boland and Roland Young get to strut their stuff to great effect in this sharp comedy.

Super Reviewer

December 24, 2010
it makes me happy that there are still hidden gems of cinema to be turned up and i probably won't live long enough to find them all. until a few months ago i'd never even heard of this movie and i'm a laughton fan! it's an absolutely delightful comedy western about a proper english gentleman's gentleman whose master loses him in a poker game--to some nouveau-riche americans. soon ruggles is on his way to the wild west where the concept of a manservant is not quite obvious to everyone. at first aghast, ruggles soon adapts to life in a society where everyone is 'equal'. a great 'fish out of water' comedy and subversive commentary on american vs european values with a wonderful, nearly silent performance by laughton, who does most of his acting with facial expressions alone! let's hope this gets a dvd release soon; it certainly deserves one
John B

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2014
A joy to view and with Charles Laughton in a non serious role for a change. He obviously relishes the opportunity and his reactions to the change in his environment are memorable.
August 28, 2014
What a delightful comedic classic! This movie feels undervalued as I've never seen it discussed anywhere before. Charles Laughton gives a hilarious performance, and his comic pairing of him and Charlie Ruggles (that must have been confusing on set) is classic and one that deserved a whole series. I've never seen a funnier depiction of someone drunk as the one Laughton portrayed. Sure it's over the top exaggerated, but the coy smile Laughton wears sells it. Charlie Ruggles' character may have a little too much Yosemite Sam in him, but it somehow still works.

The other real standout is Leo McCarey's direction. He helps the actor's nail there comedic timing and has a great sense of pacing. He's directed a great body of work that also seems unappreciated when compared to the notoriety of other great American film directors, and I'm starting to find him on par with Ford, Hawks, Huston, Ray, Curtiz, Minnelli, etc. McCarey is probably my third favorite classic comedy director after Hawks and Wilder (Wilder may also deserve more credit for having co-written many of his movies to one degree or another), and he's also capable of making some terrific drama (Make Way for Tomorrow is a classic and is sort of the American Tokyo Story).
June 19, 2009
Charles Laughton is delightful and fantastic in this hilarious classic comedy. It is among his best performances (there are so many!) Very very funny, expertly directed by Leo McCarey. The supporting cast is excellent. Wonderful film!
March 11, 2008
This film is surreal. Imagine Abbott and Costello meets Oscar Wilde. It's superimposing dry british humor over vulgar American slapstick. British class values over rugged American individualism themes. I liked bits of it while some parts were completely over the top.
May 8, 2014
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
The Movie King
August 5, 2013
"Four score and seven years ago..."

If you're wondering why my opening quote features the beginning of the Gettysburg Address, it's because that speech plays a pivotal role in the film I'm about to review. It's Ruggles of Red Gap, a comedy starring Charles Laughton and Mary Boland.

Set in 1908, Ruggles (Charles Laughton) is a butler living in Paris with his master the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young). When Ruggles is bought off by the American cowboy Egbert Floud (Charles Ruggles; no relations to the story in any way), Ruggles, Egbert, and his social wife Effie (Mary Boland) head to the American town of Red Gap. There, Ruggles is mistaken as a British officer, but becomes a popular fellow, though the social town leader Belknap-Jackson (Lucien Littlefield) is suspicious about it. Soon, Ruggles is intrigued by democracy and intends to make his mark in America.

The film also features Lelia Hyams as singer and dancer Neil Kenner and Zasu Pitts as the cook Mrs. Judson, who develops a crush on Ruggles.

Ruggles of Red Gap is famous for two things. First, it's famous for a scene where Ruggles recites the Gettysburg Address, which basically sums up the whole message of the film where foreigners can succeed in America like any other American. The other famous scene is where The Earl is taught how to play the drums. And yes, that sequence was pretty funny.

I enjoyed Ruggles of Red Gap cause it had heart. Charles Laughton was great as Ruggles. With his self-determination on the American Dream, his focus on American life makes me root for the character even more. The scene where he quotes the Gettysburg Address was known for moving audiences during the day, with many cheering after that scene, and it helped them survive The Great Depression, which was big at that time.

Charles Ruggles had some laughs as the American cowboy, Mary Boland is a hoot as Effie, the social-intending wife, and Lucian Littlefield is memorable as Belknap-Jackson. Roland Young was a bit of a bore as the Earl of Burnstead, but the scene where he plays the drums is surprisingly funny. The biggest miscast however, was Zasu Pitts as Ruggles' love interest. This woman annoyed me. Her voice sounded like she blew a ginormous balloon, released it, and felt all the helium. It's that annoying.

If I enjoyed the majority of the cast and the American patriotism in this, then why is my score not 100%, like the general Tomatometer score? Well, for starters, it lacked pure humor. Yes, there were some comedic sequences I enjoyed such as Mary Boland screaming, a drunken Ruggles hollering "Woopee", and the Earl learning to play the drums, but the majority of the humor focused on Laughton's facial expressions. While that kind of humor works in some comedies (look at Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain), for the role of Charles Laughton as Ruggles, it didn't, cause Laughton is too big a guy to carry humor out of facial expressions. For someone his height, he should have done more "Whoopees" when his character was gassed. My opinions sound stupid, but that's what I felt about the majority of the humor in Ruggles of Red Gap.

But, that doesn't mean I hate Ruggles of Red Gap. In reality, I mostly enjoyed the film. Sure the film had a little too much focus on humor that isn't that super funny, but Ruggles of Red Gap had some entertaining performance, mostly coming from Charles Laughton and Mary Boland, some true American spirit, and some heart. It's not the funniest film I've seen, but with the patriotism, I give it a decently positive score.
December 12, 2012
A sweet little comedy, with a surprisingly social conscious message amidst the somewhat clunky dialogue.
September 27, 2012
great way to learn french.Charlie Ruggles great as always.
January 4, 2012
I have waited many years to see this movie again. I have remembered the name for over 30 years since i first saw it, it was so fun. I thought the Charles Laughton version was filmed in 39' though.
April 17, 2005
Charles Laughton is delightful and fantastic in this hilarious classic comedy. It is among his best performances (there are so many!) Very very funny, expertly directed by Leo McCarey. The supporting cast is excellent. Wonderful film!
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