The Man in Possession


1h 19m 1931
The Man in Possession

Brief Synopsis

An out-of-luck heiress falls for the man appointed to dispose of her property.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 4, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Man in Possession by H. M. Harwood (London, 22 Jan 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

In England, Raymond Dabney returns home to his family after serving a jail sentence for stealing a car. Upon his arrival, Raymond is met with stern reproach and resentment from his father and brother Claude. Only his mother shows sympathy for Raymond and his misfortunes following financial difficulties and his father's refusal to accept him into the family business when he needed work. Raymond's father complains that his "jailbird" son was given the best education money could buy, and that he showed nothing but contempt for it. Hoping to prevent further scandal, Raymond's father offers him £500 to go to Australia or Canada while Claude makes preparations to marry a wealthy heiress. Raymond leaves the house, but stays in England and soon lands a job as a bailiff's assistant. His first assignment is to move into the home of Crystal Wetherby, a debt-ridden former millionairess, until she pays her bills. Unknown to Raymond, Crystal is Claude's supposedly wealthy fiancée. Crystal makes the best of Raymond's unwanted presence by putting him to work as her butler. She also makes him promise not to reveal the fact that he is a bailiff or her financial state to the dinner guests that she will be entertaining that evening. When Clara, Crystal's maid, suggests that she put an end to her money troubles by accepting the generosity of Sir Charles Cartwright, a wealthy suitor who has helped her out of difficult situations in the past, she rejects the idea because of her engagement to Claude. While waiting for her guests to arrive, Crystal playfully flirts with Raymond, and when she casually mentions the name of her fiancé, the shocked Raymond drops his serving tray. Though Raymond tries to hide from Claude and his parents when they arrive, he is eventually discovered. The family is mortified, but they keep silent about their relationship to Raymond. The dinner party is soon interrupted by the visit of Mr. Cartwright, and while Crystal leaves the dining room to try to get rid of him, the Dabneys start an argument with Raymond. The fight results in spilled food on both brother and father, and when Crystal returns, Claude, thinking that Raymond is simply hired help, insists that she fire him. Raymond, however, refuses to leave until he receives the eighty-three pounds required by the bailiff's office. That night, while preparing to go out for a night on the town, Crystal, with her back to Raymond, mistakes him for Clara and asks him to help her out of her dress. Raymond obliges, then manages to convince her not to go out, but stay in with him. The next morning, Raymond sends Crystal her breakfast in bed with the bacon placed on her plate to form the word "love." When the jealous and suspicious Sir Charles arrives later in the day, he asks Raymond about Crystal's whereabouts the previous night, and even pays him for the information. Raymond tells him about their plans to marry, which angers the millionaire. After Claude offers Raymond one thousand pounds to vacate Crystal's mansion, Raymond shows his brother the writ proving that she is insolvent. Claude immediately loses interest in her, and fearing that he will be sued for breach of promise, gives Raymond permission to tell her that he is his brother, then flees. Having warded off all his competition, Raymond pays Crystal's debts with the money from Sir Charles and then purchases passage for the two of them aboard the ship on which they will be married.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 4, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Man in Possession by H. M. Harwood (London, 22 Jan 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

The Man in Possession -


When British ne'er-do-well Raymond Dabney (Robert Montgomery) is released from jail, his father demands he leave the country since his accomplishments pale in comparison to those of the "good" brother Claude (Reginald Owen). But Robert instead finds employment as a butler for penniless aristocrat Crystal (Irene Purcell). Trouble is, Claude is Crystal's fiance and knows nothing about her penury. Will Raymond spill the beans? And which Dabney brother will Crystal choose? Directed by Cecil B. DeMille alumni Sam Wood, this upper crust drama acquires a sheen of Anglo authenticity because of additional dialogue contributed by British wit P.G. Wodehouse, best known for creating the aristocratic doofus Wooster and his long-suffering butler Jeeves. (Wodehouse was unimpressed with Hollywood, however, writing in a letter to a friend that a contributor of additional dialogue ranked "just above a script girl and just below the man who works the wind machine.")

By Violet LeVoit
The Man In Possession -

The Man in Possession -

When British ne'er-do-well Raymond Dabney (Robert Montgomery) is released from jail, his father demands he leave the country since his accomplishments pale in comparison to those of the "good" brother Claude (Reginald Owen). But Robert instead finds employment as a butler for penniless aristocrat Crystal (Irene Purcell). Trouble is, Claude is Crystal's fiance and knows nothing about her penury. Will Raymond spill the beans? And which Dabney brother will Crystal choose? Directed by Cecil B. DeMille alumni Sam Wood, this upper crust drama acquires a sheen of Anglo authenticity because of additional dialogue contributed by British wit P.G. Wodehouse, best known for creating the aristocratic doofus Wooster and his long-suffering butler Jeeves. (Wodehouse was unimpressed with Hollywood, however, writing in a letter to a friend that a contributor of additional dialogue ranked "just above a script girl and just below the man who works the wind machine.") By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A September 1931 Film Daily news item notes that Austrian actress Nora Gregor learned English for her role in this film. For more information on Gregor, see note for But the Flesh Is Weak (above). According to modern sources, the plot of the 1915 British Globe film The Man in Possession bore some resemblence to the story of this film. The 1915 film was written by Reuben Gillmer. The 1937 M-G-M film Personal Property, directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starring Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor, was also based on the Harwood play (see below). Reginald Owen played "Dabney" and Forrest Harvey played the "a bailiff" in that film as well. A Theatre Guild production of The Man in Possession, directed by Alex Segal and starring Rex Harrison and Lili Palmer, aired on the CBS television network on December 8, 1953.