Topper (1937)

95 or 97-98 mins | Comedy, Fantasy | 16 July 1937

Director:

Norman Z. McLeod

Cinematographer:

Norbert Brodine

Editor:

William Terhune

Production Designer:

Arthur I. Royce

Production Companies:

Hal Roach Studios, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

A LAT article just prior to the film's production noted that the film's proposed budget was $500,000. Scenes set at the entrance to the Seabreeze Hotel were shot at the exterior entrance to the Bullocks Wilshire department store on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. A HR news item noted that actress Claire Windsor was to appear in the film, her first in more than three years, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A production still for the film included actress Natalie Moorhead in the film, but she was not in the viewed print and her role may have been cut from the released film. Roland Young received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the picture. The film was also nominated for an Oscar in the sound recording category.
       According to a news item in HR on 15 May 1985, Topper , originally shot in black and white, was the first film to be fully "colorized." The colorized version, made for television and video release, was produced by Hal Roach Studios Film Classics and Colorization, Inc. Two sequels were made to Topper : Topper Takes a Trip in 1939, also directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Constance Bennett, Roland Young and Billie Burke, and Topper Returns in 1941, directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Young, Burke and Joan Blondell. A television series based on the Thorne Smith characters was shown on the CBS network from 1953 through 1956. The series starred Anne Jeffries and Robert Sterling as "George" ... More Less

A LAT article just prior to the film's production noted that the film's proposed budget was $500,000. Scenes set at the entrance to the Seabreeze Hotel were shot at the exterior entrance to the Bullocks Wilshire department store on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. A HR news item noted that actress Claire Windsor was to appear in the film, her first in more than three years, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A production still for the film included actress Natalie Moorhead in the film, but she was not in the viewed print and her role may have been cut from the released film. Roland Young received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the picture. The film was also nominated for an Oscar in the sound recording category.
       According to a news item in HR on 15 May 1985, Topper , originally shot in black and white, was the first film to be fully "colorized." The colorized version, made for television and video release, was produced by Hal Roach Studios Film Classics and Colorization, Inc. Two sequels were made to Topper : Topper Takes a Trip in 1939, also directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Constance Bennett, Roland Young and Billie Burke, and Topper Returns in 1941, directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Young, Burke and Joan Blondell. A television series based on the Thorne Smith characters was shown on the CBS network from 1953 through 1956. The series starred Anne Jeffries and Robert Sterling as "George" and "Marion," Leo G. Carroll as "Topper" and Lee Patrick as "Mrs. Topper." A Topper television movie, made in 1979, was shown on the ABC network, starring Kate Jackson and Andrew Stevens. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Jul 1937.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jul 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Jul 37
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 38
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 37
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 85
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
18 Mar 1937.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Nov 1936.
---
Motion Picture Daily
9 Jul 37
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Jun 37
p. 83.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Jul 37
, 13713
MPSI
Jul 37
p. 46.
New York Times
20 Aug 37
p. 21.
Variety
14 Jul 37
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Pres
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus arr
SOUND
Sd dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Topper by Thorne Smith (New York, 1926).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Old Man Moon," music and lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
16 July 1937
Production Date:
late March--late May 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
14 July 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7315
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95 or 97-98
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3272
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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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.