Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1937. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by John Van Druten, based on the play by Emlyn Williams. Cinematography by Ray June. Produced by Hunt Stromberg. Music by Edward Ward. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Dolly Tree. Film Editing by Robert Kern. Academy Awards 1937.
Faithful to the original stageplay by Emlyn Williams, this entire film takes place in the peaceful English country cottage of a mean old English lady (Dame May Whitty). She lives there with her spinster niece/paid companion (Rosalind Russell), their only other company being the two saucy maids in their kitchen. Whitty loses some of her venom when one of the maids introduces her to her charming Irish boyfriend (Robert Montgomery), and she immediately hires him to help out around the house. The old lady is totally won over by the fun-loving bloke, but Russell has her doubts about his innocence; something about the beheaded body found near their house is just too coincidental with the round-shaped leather bag he keeps in his room. The film builds slowly to a very scary climax, finishing off with a great finale. The acting by all is superb, particularly a career-reversing Montgomery who finally managed to break free of the romantic comedy typecasting that had defined his roles in Hollywood thus far.