Topper tells the tale of Cosmo Topper (Roland Young), a repressed, middle-aged banker,and his liberating encounter with the ghosts of Cary Grant and Constance Bennett. Grant andBennett, irresponsible socialites, die in a car accident without ever having done a good deed.They must make up for this before they can move on, and their good deed is to shake upTopper’s life. This is a gentle comedy, with fabulous character work from Young (who richlydeserved his Oscar nomination)… By today’s standards, the pace is very leisurely, but there arescenes which should still get you laughing.
Topper was made in 1937. Four years later, along came Topper Returns. If the first was acharacter comedy, the second is an old-dark-house caper, very different in tone, and working in agenre that had pretty much been done to death. The model for this kind of thing is The Cat & TheCanary (1927), and Topper Returns even uses a virtually identical get-up for its villain. In thistale, a young woman is murdered in a creepy house filled with creepy suspects, and her ghostenlists Topper’s reluctant help in solving the crime. Many hijinks ensue. Among the mostenergetic, but also the most dubious today, are scenes involving Eddie (Rochester) Anderson,Topper’s frightened black butler.
You have a choice here between two kinds of mono: the original 1.0, and a restored 2.0. Forthe most part, the sound isn’t bad, and this is especially true of Topper Returns, where the monois largely problem-free, barring some static. This static is noticeably worse on Topper, and thetone fluctuates several times. Do bear in mind that the film is almost 70 years old, however.
The prints are in very good shape, with very few speckles and no dirt. There is some minorgrain in the transitions of Topper, but that’s about it as far as grain goes, which is impressive.The black and white (high key in the first film, high contrast in the second) looks very sharp, asdoes the picture itself. About 80 minutes into Topper, however, there is a brief moment of digitalbreakup.
No extras of any kind on the disc, and the liner has some very, very basic Topper trivia. Themenu is scored, and the music here has a hell of a lot of static.
Very much vintage comedies, but with plenty of charm (especially the first film), andpresented in good, solid transfers.
Special Features List
- Trivia Notes