RUGGLES OF RED GAP is one of the great comedies of all time, a wonderful source of pleasure. Charles Laughton is brilliantly cast as Marmaduke Ruggles, the ultimate valet. His aristocratic, impoverished English master (Roland Young) loses him in a poker game in Paris to a rough-and-ready
visiting American rancher, played by actor Charlie Ruggles. Laughton, Ruggles, and one of Ruggles's buddies have a hysterically funny night on the town before Laughton packs up everything and goes to Red Gap, a brawling frontier town in the West. The locals there take Laughton for a British
aristocrat, and he decides that since he is here in the land of the free, he no longer has to be an indentured servant. He falls for and marries ZaSu Pitts, and leaves Ruggles and his wife (Mary Boland) to open a restaurant with Pitts. Eventually, Young comes to visit the small town, meets Maude
Eburne, falls in love with her, and decides to stay in Red Gap. Seventy-six fast-moving minutes directed with an eye toward huge laughs, RUGGLES OF RED GAP ends with a startling scene where the slightly tipsy Laughton recites Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," his masterful reading and palpable
sincerity overcoming the incongruity of the scene to win over on-screen listeners and generations of audiences.
Laughton had already shown himself to be a superb dramatic actor in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY and HENRY VIII, but few knew that he could be funny as well as pompous, underplay as well as emote, and show a subtle comedic side, which he did masterfully in this film. The versatile Leo McCarey deftly
directs the picture, making it one his best films. Harry Leon Wilson's 1915 novel was first done by Essanay as a silent starring Taylor Holmes in 1918, and again by Paramount in 1923, with a youthful Edward Everett Horton in the lead. The picture was remade as FANCY PANTS, starring Bob Hope, but
the remake was a tepid imitation of McCarey's hilarious version.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: RUGGLES OF RED GAP is one of the great comedies of all time, a wonderful source of pleasure. Charles Laughton is brilliantly cast as Marmaduke Ruggles, the ultimate valet. His aristocratic, impoverished English master (Roland Young) loses him in a poker ga… (more)