Molly and Me (May 25, 1945)
Released May 25, 1945: A delightful British comedy about a struggling London actress that gets more than a job when she becomes a servant to a crusty retired politician.
Directed by Lewis Seiler
Written by Roger Burford and Leonard Praskins from a novel by Frances Marion.
The Actors: Gracie Fields (Molly Barry), Monty Woolley (John Graham), Roddy McDowall (Jimmy Graham), Reginald Gardiner (Harry Phillips, and Peabody), Natalie Schafer (Kitty Goode-Burroughs), Edith Barrett (Julia), Clifford Brooke (Pops), Aminta Dyne (Musette), Queenie Leonard (Lily), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Graham), Patrick O'Moore (Ronnie), Lewis L. Russell (Sir Arthur Burroughs), Matthew Boulton (Sergeant), Lillian Bronson (Perkins), Nora Cecil (clerk at Domestic Service Agency), David Clyde (Angus the gardener), Jean Del Val (Pierre Petard the cook), Leslie Denison (policeman), Ethel Griffies (Mrs. Lamb), Leyland Hodgson (manager), Boyd Irwin (Lord Alexander), Kenner G. Kemp (man in pub), Ottola Nesmith (Lady Alexander), Dorothy Neumann (clerk at Domestic Service Agency), Jean Prescott (barmaid), Gordon Richards (Jamie McDougall), Jerry Shane (messenger boy), Walter Tetley (grocery boy), Eric Wilton (George the butler).
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I've watched a lot of old movie comedies, American and British, but few as well written and performed as this one. Just the right amount of serious drama/conflict to balance the wonderful smiles that it produces. This is a movie with a cast of actors that play the parts of . . . actors. Yup. Actors. Here's the set-up:
Molly is an unemployed actress living in a rooming house for actors in London. John Graham (Monty Woolley) is a retired member of Parliament. He retired from the august halls of Parliament because of a scandal years ago. His young wife ran away with another man, and Graham left Parliament in disgrace. He is now a crusty older man that doesn't like anyone, indeed, doesn't like life itself very much. Molly needs employment, any employment that pays money, and she manages to get hired as a maid in Graham's estate by using trickery and deceit, and some pretty good 'acting.' Once she is established as a part of the servant staff at the estate, she loses no time in taking charge of just about everything. While Graham is away on business for a couple of days, she discovers that the cook, gardener and the rest of the staff is systematcially robbing Graham in petty ways every day. She fires them all, and takes over cleaning and caring for the house herself. All goes well until Graham sends word that he will be returning that evening and will be hosting a very important couple for a formal dinner for eight. Molly is unable to find any domestic staff, and in desperation she calls her old actors rooming house and 'hires' all of the unemployed actors to be the household staff.
Into this mix, we bring Graham's young son, played by a very young Roddy McDowall, and later we add to the mix a bitter and vengefull ex-wife looking for some quick cash by blackmailing Graham. Can the actors play their parts as household staff well enough to please crusty Graham? Will Graham and his son actually learn to like each other? Will the ex-wife and mother succeed in blackmailing Graham into paying hush money? Will Molly's indomitable spirit succeed in softening the crusty old Graham? Will you pop some corn and grab a soda before you start this outstanding movie?