Champagne for Caesar


1h 39m 1950

Brief Synopsis

What happens when the man who knows everything goes on a quiz show that doubles your cash prize every time a you answer a question correctly? Beauregard Bottomly is that man & what happens is you end up with 40 million dollars at stake.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 7, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Cardinal Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,945ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

Beauregard Bottomley, a reserved intellectual with a number of academic degrees but no marketable skills, shares a Los Angeles bungalow with his sister Gwenn, a piano teacher, and their dipsomaniac parrot, Caesar. On their way to the movies one night, Beauregard and Gwenn stop at a television display in a store window, around which people have gathered to watch a quiz show called Masquerade for Money , in which contestants dress up as their favorite person or thing, and then answer questions about that person or thing. The show's host, Happy Hogan, pays the contestants for each correct answer, doubling the prize to a maximum of $160. Beauregard is aghast at both the program and its cheerfully vapid host, perceiving them as a threat to the country's intellectual standards. The next day, the clerk at the state employment office sends Beauregard to apply for a research job at the Milady Soap Company, which makes "the soap that sanctifies" and sponsors Masquerade for Money . Beauregard's interview with eccentric president Burnbridge Waters takes a bad turn when Beauregard makes a small joke, and the job offer is withdrawn. Determined to get revenge, Beauregard appears as a contestant on the show, wearing an encyclopedia costume. Prepared to answer questions on any subject, Beauregard's caustic wit makes him popular with the studio audience. After winning $160, Beauregard stuns Happy and the Milady executives by refusing to take the money, insisting instead on coming back next week to play for double or nothing. Sensing a promotional opportunity, Burnbridge decides to keep Beauregard on the show for a while, and both the ratings and the company's sales soar. With Beauregard's winnings now at $40,000, Gwenn urges her brother to take the money, but he refuses, explaining that he plans to keep playing until the prize matches the value of Milady, or $40 million, at which point he will take control of the company and pull the quiz show off the air. When Beauregard wins again, Burnbridge and his executives resolve to defeat him, and Happy volunteers to sign up for piano lessons with Gwenn. Although she suspects his ulterior motives, Gwenn begins to date Happy, and they fall in love. When the prize money reaches $10 million, Burnbridge enlists the help of the alluring Flame O'Neil. Dressed as a nurse, Flame goes to Beauegard's home, where he is in bed with a cold, and introduces herself as a "present" from his fan club. Beauregard soon falls in love with her, which leaves him somewhat addled, and Flame further manipulates him by making him think she is seeing another man. Beauregard tells Flame that his one area of weakness is Einstein's space-time continuum, and that night, a question on the show is about that very subject. The judges rule his answer incorrect, but Einstein calls from Princeton to tell Happy that Beauregard is right. Beauregard goes to Flame's apartment and spanks her with a hairbrush, and after he admits that he deliberately misinformed her to confirm his suspicions, they kiss. Meanwhile, Burnbridge decides to go out of business in style, and he books the Hollywood Bowl for what could be the final show. Gwenn announces her engagement to Happy, and Beauregard announces his to Flame, but they are both uneasy about the fact that Happy and Flame insist on waiting until after that night's broadcast to marry. When the big moment arrives, Happy takes Beauregard's wallet and asks him to recite his Social Security number. To everyone's horror, Beauregard's answer is wrong. Later that night, Burnbridge shows up at the Bottomley residence with a case of champagne and is immediately recognized by Caesar, who was his pet in college. While Burnbridge and his parrot enjoy their reunion, Happy arrives, followed by Flame. As Beauregard and Flame drive to Las Vegas to get married, he tells her that he had made a deal with Burnbridge to lose the last show, which was fortunate for him, because he really did not know his Social Security number. When Flame sees a number of books in the backseat, which Beauregard intends to read on the honeymoon, she laughs as she tosses them out of the car.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 7, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Cardinal Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,945ft (11 reels)

Articles

Champagne for Caesar - Game Show Mania is spoofed in CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR (1950)


Beauregard Bottomley (Ronald Colman), an out of work intellectual unable to find his niche in the work place, interviews for a position with the Milady Soap company that sponsors the most popular quiz show on television - "Masquerade for Money." When he is rudely dismissed by the company's owner, Burnbridge Waters (Vincent Price), halfway through his interview, Bottomley suddenly has a brainstorm. He will enter himself as a contestant on Waters' televised game show and take his revenge. In record time, he establishes himself as the contestant from hell, one who knows the answer to every question, thanks to his encyclopedia-like knowledge and infallible memory. Bottomley's long range goal, of course, is to bankrupt the company through his undefeated winning streak because he despises what television and especially game shows are doing to the American public - namely, turning them into mental cretins. Meanwhile, Waters unleashes a secret weapon on Bottomley named Flame O'Neill (Celeste Holm), an attractive, highly intelligent blonde who pretends to be a member of the Beauregard Bottomley fan club while searching for the quiz champion's Achilles' heel.

Released at a time when television was just starting to become a major threat to motion pictures, Champagne for Caesar (1950) is not just an amusing satire of the new medium but also a good-natured spoof of the game show phenomenon that was sweeping the nation in the early fifties. The film is no less timely today in its attitude toward audiences who will gleefully embrace every new media trend in their unending need to be entertained constantly. In many ways, the naysayers of quiz shows like Bottomley in this film aren't much different from some of today's TV critics who call fans of Survivor, Joe Millionaire and other reality based shows total idiots.

Now available on DVD from Image Entertainment, Champagne for Caesar might not be the long lost cult comedy the liner notes proclaim it to be but it is nonetheless worth seeing for several reasons, one of them being Ronald Colman's performance in a rare comedy role. He's very amusing in the first half of the film when he's tormenting Happy Hogan (Art Linkletter), the buffoonish host of the "Masquerade for Money" show. It's also fun to see Vincent Price in a non-horror role though his performance here is extremely broad and often over the top. Animation buffs will recognize Mel Blanc's voice (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.) emerging from the mouth of Caesar, the talking parrot.

Other trivia: Champagne for Caesar was one of Art Linkletter's few attempts at an acting career (he also starred in People Are Funny in 1946), although he found great success as a TV host on such shows as Life With Linkletter, House Party, The Art Linkletter Show and his Screen Snapshots series. And it's interesting to note that Barbara Britton, who plays Bottomley's sister, Gwenn, later went on to work on the TV quiz show, The $64,000 Question.

The Image DVD of Champagne for Caesar sports a mostly crisp black and white film transfer though there is one ugly incident of frame damage that occurs between reel changes during the film's second half. Overall, the audio is well balanced though you might notice some slight distortion during the scenes where the TV audience applauds. As for extras, there is only a still and lobby card gallery. But if you like the premise and the actors mentioned above and don't expect a comedy on the level of say - a Preston Sturges film - you should find Champagne for Caesar an enjoyable way to spend 100 minutes.

For more information about Champagne for Caesar, visit Image Entertainment, Inc.. To purchase a copy of Champagne for Caesar, visit TCM Shopping.

by Jeff Stafford
Champagne For Caesar - Game Show Mania Is Spoofed In Champagne For Caesar (1950)

Champagne for Caesar - Game Show Mania is spoofed in CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR (1950)

Beauregard Bottomley (Ronald Colman), an out of work intellectual unable to find his niche in the work place, interviews for a position with the Milady Soap company that sponsors the most popular quiz show on television - "Masquerade for Money." When he is rudely dismissed by the company's owner, Burnbridge Waters (Vincent Price), halfway through his interview, Bottomley suddenly has a brainstorm. He will enter himself as a contestant on Waters' televised game show and take his revenge. In record time, he establishes himself as the contestant from hell, one who knows the answer to every question, thanks to his encyclopedia-like knowledge and infallible memory. Bottomley's long range goal, of course, is to bankrupt the company through his undefeated winning streak because he despises what television and especially game shows are doing to the American public - namely, turning them into mental cretins. Meanwhile, Waters unleashes a secret weapon on Bottomley named Flame O'Neill (Celeste Holm), an attractive, highly intelligent blonde who pretends to be a member of the Beauregard Bottomley fan club while searching for the quiz champion's Achilles' heel. Released at a time when television was just starting to become a major threat to motion pictures, Champagne for Caesar (1950) is not just an amusing satire of the new medium but also a good-natured spoof of the game show phenomenon that was sweeping the nation in the early fifties. The film is no less timely today in its attitude toward audiences who will gleefully embrace every new media trend in their unending need to be entertained constantly. In many ways, the naysayers of quiz shows like Bottomley in this film aren't much different from some of today's TV critics who call fans of Survivor, Joe Millionaire and other reality based shows total idiots. Now available on DVD from Image Entertainment, Champagne for Caesar might not be the long lost cult comedy the liner notes proclaim it to be but it is nonetheless worth seeing for several reasons, one of them being Ronald Colman's performance in a rare comedy role. He's very amusing in the first half of the film when he's tormenting Happy Hogan (Art Linkletter), the buffoonish host of the "Masquerade for Money" show. It's also fun to see Vincent Price in a non-horror role though his performance here is extremely broad and often over the top. Animation buffs will recognize Mel Blanc's voice (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.) emerging from the mouth of Caesar, the talking parrot. Other trivia: Champagne for Caesar was one of Art Linkletter's few attempts at an acting career (he also starred in People Are Funny in 1946), although he found great success as a TV host on such shows as Life With Linkletter, House Party, The Art Linkletter Show and his Screen Snapshots series. And it's interesting to note that Barbara Britton, who plays Bottomley's sister, Gwenn, later went on to work on the TV quiz show, The $64,000 Question. The Image DVD of Champagne for Caesar sports a mostly crisp black and white film transfer though there is one ugly incident of frame damage that occurs between reel changes during the film's second half. Overall, the audio is well balanced though you might notice some slight distortion during the scenes where the TV audience applauds. As for extras, there is only a still and lobby card gallery. But if you like the premise and the actors mentioned above and don't expect a comedy on the level of say - a Preston Sturges film - you should find Champagne for Caesar an enjoyable way to spend 100 minutes. For more information about Champagne for Caesar, visit Image Entertainment, Inc.. To purchase a copy of Champagne for Caesar, visit TCM Shopping. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

We have a Frankenstein on our hands, and a very well-informed Frankenstein. He must be stopped.
- Burnbridge Waters
I'm thinking of introducing onto the market an all-purpose cake of soap that can also be used to clean teeth.
- Burnbridge Waters
I see, sort of a foaming at the mouth approach, eh?
- Beauregard Bottomley
You would have started tomorrow.
- Burnbridge Waters
That would have been fine, but aren't we using a strange tense - would have?
- Beauregard Bottomley
No sir, we are not.
- Burnbridge Waters
Let's get loaded.
- Caesar (voice)
Don't worry. We will...
- Burnbridge Waters
If it is noteworthy and rewarding to know that 2 and 2 make 4 to the accompaniment of deafening applause and prizes, then 2 and 2 making 4 will become the top level of learning.
- Beauregard Bottomley
I have an idea. I want to find what the average man thinks of it. Then when we've found out what he thinks of it, we'll change his thinking.
- Burnbridge Waters

Trivia

Notes

The film opens with a voice-over narration introducing the audience to "Frosty," a pretty blonde starlet sunbathing in front of a bungalow. The narrator then states that the story is actually about her neighbor, "Beauregard Bottomley." News items in Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety state that the newly formed Yoland Productions was involved in the film's production, but the extent of the company's participation has not been determined. A pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter noted that Leonid Snegoff had been cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, scenes depicting the quiz show were shot at Los Angeles television station KTTV, and radio announcer Gabriel Heatter's scenes were shot in Miami, FL. On October 5, 1950, Champagne for Caesar was performed on Screen Guild Playhouse, with Ronald Colman, Vincent Price, Art Linkletter and Barbara Britton reprising their film roles. Audrey Totter replaced Celeste Holm for the broadcast.