18 September 2011 | bkoganbing
Her Impression Of Him Requires A Pseudonym?
Climbing High is a British attempt to make an American style screwball comedy and while it has a few amusing moments it will never threaten something like My Man Godfrey or It Happened One Night. It was Michael Redgrave's second film and a bit of a let down from his debut in the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Lady Vanishes. But it did have the distinction of introducing Redgrave to Carol Reed who had been doing a lot of light fluff at the time. A year later Reed and Redgrave teamed to direct and star in The Stars Look Down which was Reed's first critically acclaimed film.
Michael Redgrave plays a young rich playboy who like in so many American films of this accidentally runs into Jessie Matthews who is not knowing where the next job is coming from. Redgrave's been linked in the society columns to titled woman Margaret Vyner. She'd dearly love to marry him because while she has the title, he has the pound sterling. He's not really interested in her, especially after he sees Matthews, but not thinking it's worth the time and trouble to issue denials to the tabloids. And he gives a fictitious name to Matthews because of the tabloids and her impression of him through what she reads there.
Not to say there aren't a few good scenes and some real laughs like Redgrave turning on a wind machine full blast at a modeling shoot that Matthews is at, or later he and Matthews humoring lunatic Francis L. Sullivan who just escaped the rubber room. But the whole premise of this one is more silly than funny. If Redgrave just told Matthews who he was it would have solved everything. But then there wouldn't be a picture.
One should also make note of American Noel Madison in the cast who plays an advertising executive, who plays it Madison Avenue style for the British public. Usually Madison was featured in gangster films in the USA. Also Torin Thatcher is here as Matthews stern brother who wants to get the guy who wronged his sister. Last but not least is Alastair Sim who plays Matthews Communist friend who will turn capitalist if it suits him on occasion, but with a tear for Lenin.
Climbing High is an amusing enough film, but doesn't come close to American screwball comedies of the time.