Where's Charley? (1952)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Errors, Farce  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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Where's Charley?, Frank Loesser's hit Broadway musical version of Brandon Thomas' evergreen stage farce Charley's Aunt, was brought to the screen in 1952 with most of its original cast intact -- including, thank heaven, star Ray Bolger. In the original Brandon Thomas version, Oxford undergrad Lord Fancourt Babberly was coerced into disguising himself as "Charley's Aunt, from Brazil, where the nuts come from" so that his roommates Charley Wyckeham and Jack Chesney would have a proper escort for their visiting sweethearts Amy Spettigue and Kitty Verdun. In the musical version, Lord Fancourt is eliminated, and Charley plays his own aunt, making innumerable quickie costume changes throughout the proceedings. Complications ensue when three older characters show up: Jack's father Sir Francis Chesney, Amy and Kitty's irascible guardian Stephen Spettigue, and Charley's real aunt Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez. It goes without saying that Ray Bolger plays both Charley and the faux aunt, brilliantly recreating the sidesplitting comic turns that brought down the house on Broadway. Less successful is his re-creation of the audience-participation song "Once in Love With Amy," simply because it's difficult for a film actor to come "out" of the picture and encourage the audience to sing along. The other Loesser songs -- "Make a Miracle," "My Darling" and "New Ashmoleon Marching Society" are more satisfactorily rendered. For the record, the rest of the cast includes Allyn McLerie and Mary Germaine as Amy and Kitty, Robert Shackleton as Jack, Horace Cooper as Spettigue, Howard Marion Crawford as Chesney, and Margaretta Scott as Donna Lucia.

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Keywords

seduction, sex, apartment, assumed-identity, aunt, campus, chaperone, college, complications, disguise, dowager, father, impersonation, loot, roommate, sex-change, songwriter, student, uncle, university, widow/widower