AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Topper
Director: Norman Z. McLeod (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Jul 1937
Duration (in mins):  95 or 97-98
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Cast: Constance Bennett  (Marion Kerby)
  Cary Grant  (George Kerby)
  Roland Young  (Mr. [Cosmo] Topper)
 

Summary: Middle-aged New York banker Cosmo Topper's wife Clara insists that they live a staid, well-ordered existence, the complete antithesis of bank owners George and Marion Kerby, who live for fun and excitement. After a board of directors meeting, the Kerbys try to convince Topper to stop doing what his wife says and "live." On the drive back to their country home, just after Marion says that she wants to do a good deed and make Topper over, George loses control of their speeding car and they crash. Though they feel all right, George and Marian quickly realize that they are transparent and, in fact, died in the crash. Some time later, as Topper mulls over the Kerbys' fate, he receives delivery of their newly repaired car and takes it for a drive after the mechanic says that he is not the type for the car and Clara forbids him to buy it. Speeding along, Topper swerves off the road in the very spot where the Kerbys died. Although initially shocked to see the Kerbys' partially "de-materialized" spirits, Topper soon becomes interested in Marion's ideas to make him a new man. The Kerbys then take Topper to their New York apartment, where he dances, then passes out from drinking. Deciding that Topper needs a Bromo Seltzer, George and Marion de-materialize and help the reeling Topper to their car, then cause a near riot when some chauffeurs get into an altercation with the stupified Topper. A policeman stops the commotion and takes Topper off to court where he is charged with drunken and disorderly conduct. Reporters recognize his name, and news of the incident hits the papers. The next day, Clara is more hurt than angry, and is certain that her dream of socializing with the prominent Mrs. Grace Stuyvesant is now impossible. To her shock, however, Mrs. Stuyvesant is dying to meet Clara's now notorious husband and invites them to a party. At the bank, Topper's employees look at him with new respect, and Marion appears to get him to take her for a soda. Instead she stops to shop at a lingerie store that is disrupted by a pair of apparently flying lace underpants. Topper stuffs them in his pocket then accidentally drops them in front of Clara back home. When she accuses him of infidelity, Topper packs a bag and drives off. Marion then appears in the car and suggests that they check into the Seabreeze hotel and have some fun. Meanwhile, George materializes and looks for Marion at the Topper home, where he tells Clara that she forced Topper away. Back at the hotel, Marion's constant appearing and disappearing gets Topper into trouble with house detective Casey. When George arrives, the situation worsens until Topper finally begs to leave. On the way home, George suddenly speeds up the car and says he can't stop, and the care crashes at the same spot again. Topper's shade appears, but he is not dead, only unconscious. He says that he would rather be with George and Marion than back home, but they convince him not to spoil their good deed. Topper awakens in his own bed and Clara goes to him, wearing the lace underpants. Knowing that Topper will now be all right, George and Marion say goodbye, as Clara and Topper embrace. 

Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Hal Roach Studios, Inc.
Director: Norman Z. McLeod (Dir)
Producer: Hal Roach (Pres)
  Milton H. Bren (Assoc prod)
Writer: Jack Jevne (Scr)
  Eric Hatch (Scr)
  Eddie Moran (Scr)
  Thorne Smith (Orig story)

Subject Major: Automobile accidents
  Bankers
  Ghosts
  Good Samaritans
  New York City
  Transformation
 
Subject Minor: Hotel bellmen
  Butlers
  Drunkenness
  Elevator operators
  Hotels
  Jealousy
  Lingerie
  Prudes
  Social climbers

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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