Charley's Aunt (1930)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Errors, Farce  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This first talkie version of the evergreen Brandon Thomas stage farce Charley's Aunt stars Charlie Ruggles, obviously having the time of his life in the leading role. Though updated to 1930, the film adheres to the familiar plot as set down by Thomas back in 1895. Two Oxford undergraduates, Charley Wickeham (Hugh Williams) and Jack Chesney (Rodney McLennon), anxiously await the visit of their respective girlfriends Amy Spettigue (June Collyer) and Kitty Verdun (Flora Sheffield). Trouble is, the ladies have no chaperone, and this will never do in the hallowed halls of Oxford. Anxiously, Charley and Jack persuade their twittish school chum Fancourt Babberly (Ruggles) to pose as Charley's aunt Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez (Doris Lloyd) -- "from Brazil, where the nuts come from." Poor Babbs is forced to remain in drag as both Jack's father Sir Francis Chesney (Phillips Smalley, repeating his role from the 1925 version of Charley's Aunt) and Amy's uncle Stephen Spettigue (Halliwell Hobbes) unexpectedly show up. The scenes in which Chesney and Spettigue ardently court the "Aunt" are hilarious, as is the inevitable moment when the disguised Babbs comes face to face with the real Donna Lucia (Doris Lloyd), whose ward Ella Delahay (Flora le Breton) had previously been our hero's shipboard sweetheart! A revised ending allows Charlie Ruggles to perform a farcical death scene that's every bit as funny as what has gone before. Charley's Aunt would be remade several times in the future, most memorably by Jack Benny in 1941 and by Ray Bolger in the 1952 musical adaptation Where's Charley?




accident, aunt, chaperone, charade, classmate, couple, courtship, cross-dressing, girlfriend, impersonation, matron, student