Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), directed by Leo McCarey.

In 1908, very proper, very English gentleman's valet Marmaduke Ruggles (Charles Laughton) is wagered in a poker game by his employer and lost to some boisterous Americans who take him back to Red Gap WA as a touch of class.

The setup is as you would expect: Laughton giving comically startled and long-suffering Jeeves-like expressions of shock and disapproval in his new situation. He's very good at it. But the story takes an unexpected turn: Ruggles finds new depths and opportunities, discovers he likes being an American and invents a new life for himself. And we like the rustic westerners more at the end than we did in the beginning.

The movie follows the book, as much as I can remember of it, rather closely. I think Wodehouse invented Jeeves earlier but the character was not yet famous.

Laughton gives a moving and understated recitation of the Gettysburg Address in a tavern.

Universal Vault Series title, their manufactured on demand line. Ultra minimal design, not even a menu. Since there are no options, none is needed. Available for rent from ClassicFlix.