Beg Borrow or Steal


1h 10m 1937
Beg Borrow or Steal

Brief Synopsis

Con men on the Riviera live by their wits.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Matter of Pride
Genre
Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 3, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the short story "Matter of Pride" by William C. White in The Saturday Evening Post (8 May 1937).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Fifteen years after tourist shill Ingraham Steward has left his wife Agatha and daughter Joyce, he learns that Joyce is about to marry the wealthy Horace Miller. Although Ingraham has faithfully sent his family money and letters over the years, they know little about his life and think that he is a successful art dealer in Paris. Hoping to give Joyce a chance at a good marriage, Ingraham cables them that he wants the wedding to take place in his "chateau," but is distraught when they take him up on the offer. Desperate, Ingraham goes to a large chateau and convinces the caretaker, American Bill Cherau, to help him. When the social climbing Millers arrive with Joyce and Agatha, they are very impressed by Ingraham's aristocratic friends, all of whom are really fellow conmen, and one of whom, Clifton Summit, is an escaped convict. While Bill, who is attracted to Joyce, tries to convince her that the stodgy Horace is not for her, some of Ingraham's friends case the chateau and try to con the Millers. Ingraham successfully appeals to his friends' better natures, but Bill continues his pursuit of Joyce and proposes. Meanwhile, Lord Nigel Braemer, who actually owns the chateau, decides he is miserable bird hunting in Scotland and returns home. Bill, actually the Count de Cherau, reveals the sham to his friend Braemer, who decides that it would be fun to help by pretending to be himself. Braemer is so enthusiastic, in fact, Ingraham warns the "phony" Braemer not to overdo his part. On the day of Joyce's wedding, she finally agrees to marry Bill instead of Horace, but when Bill goes to tell Ingraham, he finds that one of Ingraham's former "clients" is there with the police, demanding his money back. Bill gives one of the chateau's paintings as a replacement, but Joyce overhears and secretly decides to go through with the wedding as planned for Ingraham's sake. When Bill finds out, he tells Ingraham, who tries to help, but just then a detective arrests Bill, thinking he is Summit. As the wedding ceremony begins, Ingraham tells everyone the truth about himself and the Millers walk out, but Joyce and Agatha are proud of him. Finally free, Joyce agrees to marry Bill, who is then revealed as the Count de Cherau, and Ingraham and his cronies are invited by Breamer to stay with him at the chateau.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Matter of Pride
Genre
Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 3, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the short story "Matter of Pride" by William C. White in The Saturday Evening Post (8 May 1937).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Beg, Borrow or Steal -


Class consciousness haunted films made in Hollywood during the Great Depression, resulting in such enduring classics as RKO Radio Pictures' Alice Adams (1935), Columbia Pictures' Holiday (1938), Universal's My Man Godfrey (1936), and this modest effort from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. As if gearing up for his later role as the draggle-tail mesmerist Professor Marvel in Metro's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Frank Morgan headlines Beg Borrow or Steal as veteran conman Ingraham Steward, who assuages his guilt over having abandoned his wife Agatha (Janet Beecher) and daughter Joyce (Florence Rice) many years earlier by wiring them small amounts of money earned from his various schemes and scams in the South of France. Begging off an invitation to return stateside to attend Joyce's impending wedding, Ingraham makes a show of regret that he cannot host the engagement party in his chateau - only to have his wife and daughter change their plans to take him up on his generous offer. Scrambling to find an untenanted mansion in which to stage his deception, Ingraham makes a deal with the affable caretaker (John Beal) of a vacationing marquis, while calling upon his disreputable colleagues to help complete the illusion. Based on the Saturday Evening Post story "A Matter of Pride" (which was the film's working title), Beg Borrow or Steal was directed by Austrian expatriate William Thiele, whose next film, The Ghost Comes Home, reunited Morgan with his Wizard of Oz costar Billie Burke.

By Richard Harland Smith
Beg, Borrow Or Steal -

Beg, Borrow or Steal -

Class consciousness haunted films made in Hollywood during the Great Depression, resulting in such enduring classics as RKO Radio Pictures' Alice Adams (1935), Columbia Pictures' Holiday (1938), Universal's My Man Godfrey (1936), and this modest effort from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. As if gearing up for his later role as the draggle-tail mesmerist Professor Marvel in Metro's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Frank Morgan headlines Beg Borrow or Steal as veteran conman Ingraham Steward, who assuages his guilt over having abandoned his wife Agatha (Janet Beecher) and daughter Joyce (Florence Rice) many years earlier by wiring them small amounts of money earned from his various schemes and scams in the South of France. Begging off an invitation to return stateside to attend Joyce's impending wedding, Ingraham makes a show of regret that he cannot host the engagement party in his chateau - only to have his wife and daughter change their plans to take him up on his generous offer. Scrambling to find an untenanted mansion in which to stage his deception, Ingraham makes a deal with the affable caretaker (John Beal) of a vacationing marquis, while calling upon his disreputable colleagues to help complete the illusion. Based on the Saturday Evening Post story "A Matter of Pride" (which was the film's working title), Beg Borrow or Steal was directed by Austrian expatriate William Thiele, whose next film, The Ghost Comes Home, reunited Morgan with his Wizard of Oz costar Billie Burke. By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was A Matter of Pride. Actor Erik Rhodes was borrowed from RKO for this film. The ownership of the chateau in the plot is ambiguous, as it was variously attributed to "Bill Cherau" and "Lord Braemer." This and other plot ambiguities were noted in various reviews.