George (Cary Grant) and Marion Kerby (Constance Bennett) lead a wild, sophisticated and carefree life, with endless nights of drinking, dancing and singing. After a bank board meeting at which George is a stock-holder, they race home and George loses control of his car, crashing and killing them both. They instantly become ghosts, and upon realising that they haven’t done any good deeds in their lifetime, George and Marion become fearful that heaven won’t be the next stop, and decide to help a friend of theirs turn his life around: Cosmo Topper (Roland Young), the bank’s chairman. Cosmo has his whole daily routine scheduled to the minute by his wife, Clara Topper (Billie Burke). He’s the kind of man who literally drops everything for his lady, that is to say, he’s totally and embarrassingly emasculated.
Though Grant was what drove me and most of its 30’s audience to watch Topper, it’s Young and Bennet that take center stage: Marion has a special interest in Cosmo, and so George is left behind for some time. It’s interesting to see how a love affair was treated in a feel-good movie from 1937 — though nothing actually happens, they’re actions are loud enough to make George capable of breaking Cosmo’s neck.
Despite some rhythm issues, and a couple of dull moments, Topper pulls some good laughs, keeping a good mood with Constance Bennett’s lively, flirtatious personality and perfect poise, letting Cary Grant do his thing, and creating an unbelievably good-looking on screen couple. But it’s Roland Young who displays a surprising talent for physical comedy, with a jaw-dropping scene where he is being carried by the invisible Kerbys, that will prove hard to forget.
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