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Conceivably the most neglected of James Whale's better works, this hilarious period farce (1937) imagines a hoax perpetrated by the Comedie-Francaise to teach the conceited English actor David Garrick (Brian Aherne) “a lesson in acting.” The only problem is, Garrick is in on the gag, which leads to a variety of comic complications at a country inn. This boisterous movie helps to justify critic Tom Milne's claims that Whale was a kind of premodernist Jean-Luc Godard. Rarely have the art and pleasure of acting, demonstrated here in countless varieties of ham, been expressed with as much self-reflexive energy, and Whale's enjoyable cast (including Olivia de Havilland, Edward Everett Horton, Melville Cooper, Lionel Atwill, Lana Turner, Marie Wilson, Albert Dekker, Fritz Leiber, and the wonderfully manic Luis Alberni) takes full advantage of the opportunity. 91 min.

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