Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)




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Previously filmed in 1918 and 1923, Harry Leon Wilson's novel achieved movie classic status when it was remade by Leo McCarey in 1935. The story opens in Paris, circa 1908. Ruggles, beautifully underplayed by Charles Laughton, is the ultra-obedient manservant to the bibulous Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young). During one of the Earl's nocturnal forays, nouveau riche American cattle baron Egbert Floud (Charles Ruggles) wins Ruggles in a poker game. Terrified at the prospect of being bundled off to the Wild West, Ruggles' resolve is weakened somewhat when he and the raucous but ingratiating Egbert spend a wild night on the town. (The besotted butler's periodic exclamations of "Whoopee!" are priceless.) Back in the frontier "boom town" of Red Gap, a misunderstanding obliges Egbert's social-climbing wife Effie (Mary Boland) to pass off Ruggles as an aristocratic British army officer, immediately arousing the suspicions of priggish social arbiter Charles Belknap-Jackson (Lucien Littlefield). The longer he spends in America, the more Ruggles grows to like the concept of democracy and self-determination. Of the film's many highlights, two are standouts: the scene in which Ruggles silences a rowdy saloon crowd with his recitation of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and the droll, semi-improvised vignette in which dancehall girl Nell Kenner (Leila Hyams) teaches the Earl of Burnstead how to play the drums. Ruggles of Red Gap was filmed for a fourth time in 1950 as the Bob Hope-Lucille Ball musical Fancy Pants.

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Charles Ruggles
as Egbert Floud
Mary Boland
as Effie Floud
Charlie Ruggles
as Egbert Floud
Zasu Pitts
as Mrs. Judson
Roland Young
as George Van Bassingwell
Leila Hyams
as Nell Kenner
Maude Eburne
as Ma Pettingill
Lucien Littlefield
as Charles Belknap-Jackson
Leota Lorraine
as Mrs. Belknap-Jackson
Clarence H. Wilson
as Jake Henshaw
James Burke
as Jeff Tuttle
Brenda Sue Fowler
as Judy Ballard
Augusta Anderson
as Mrs. Wallaby
Sarah Edwards
as Mrs. Myron Carey
Clarence Wilson
as Jake Henshaw
Rafael Storm
as Clothing Salesman
George Burton
as Buck Squires
Lee Kohlmar
as Red Gap Jailer
Harry Bernard
as Bartender
Alice Ardell
as Lisette
Jim Welch
as Man in Saloon
Willie Fung
as Chinese Servant
Libby Taylor
as Servant
Armand Kaliz
as Clothing Salesman
Harry Bowen
as Photographer
Henry Roquemore
as Frank Patron
Charles Fallon
as Waiter in Paris Cafe
Genaro Spagnoli
as Frank the Cabman
Albert Petit
as Waiter at Carousel
Ernie S. Adams
as Dishwasher
Frank O'Connor
as Station Agent
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Ruggles of Red Gap

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (3)

It's a bit much, but it works like magic. The cast could hardly be better

Full Review… | April 7, 2016
New Yorker
Top Critic

With the egalitarian warmth of Jean Renoir (himself a huge fan of the film), director McCarey spoofs stereotypes while investing them with knowing asides.

Full Review… | April 3, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Fitting such a democratic film, there's no bad part here...

Full Review… | April 3, 2012
Village Voice
Top Critic

Leo McCarey's masterpiece is a schizo, slack-jawed, preemptive rejoinder to Frank Capra's saintly sober "everyman."

Full Review… | March 29, 2012
Slant Magazine

Alternately charming and deeply touching.

Full Review… | March 10, 2010
Film and Felt

The film's main asset is the strong comical performance of Charles Laughton as the straitlaced and very proper English butler Marmaduke Ruggles.

Full Review… | April 28, 2009
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Ruggles of Red Gap

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).

Matt Heiser
Matt Heiser

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.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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