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Character's Name: George Kerby
Release Date:  July 16, 1937
Director:  Norman Z. McLeod
Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Running Time: 98 minutes

Cast: Constance Bennett (Marion Kerby), Cary Grant (George Kerby), Roland Young (Cosmo Topper), Billie Burke (Henrietta Topper), Alan Mowbray (Wilkins), Eugene Pallette (Casey), Arthur Lake (Elevator Boy), Hedda Hopper (Mrs. Stuyvesant), Virginia Sale (Miss Johnson), Theodore Von Eltz (Hotel Manager), J. Farrell McDonald (Policeman), Elaine Shepard (Secretary), Doodles Weaver, Si Jenks (Rustics), "Three Hits and a Miss" (Themselves)

Watch "Topper" - 1:38:06

- by Zoë Shaw
Topper is a hen-pecked banker. Marion and George (Toppers principle stockholder), get killed in a car accident. Before they can rest in peace they must perform a good deed - stop Topper from being so damn domesticated.

- by Jerelyn Stanley

Topper was movie-maker Hal Roach's jump from two-reel comedies to the big-time movies. The special effects are amazing, all being "in-the-camera" techniques, and not the blue-screen techniques used today. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett play George and Marion Kerby, two wealthy, free-wheeling socialites killed in a car accident. They decide that they can't get to heaven unless they do a good deed.

Cosmo Topper is the Kerby's former banker, a frustrated and hen-pecked little man.

The Kerbys try to conserve their eckto-plasm by only being visible when really necessary. This gets Topper into all kinds of trouble.

After drinking, Topper is arrested, to his wife's horror. He leaves home and goes to a motel with the lady ghost to drink, dance and have fun. The staff is spying on him, and before long the motel is a shambles, and Topper is on his way home to his reformed wife.

This is a bright and sophisticated comedy, with a dash of Grant's vaudeville talents thrown in. In a scene towards the end, the ghosts are talking on the roof, and Grant's character is walking back and forth across the roof's peak showing off his abilities as a trained acrobat! All in all, a VERY entertaining movie.

VARIETY Film Review - July 14, 1937
- by "Flin"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Technical ease with which the motion pictures can make characters instantaneously appear and disappear from the screen, always has tempted producers and screenwriters to delve, sometimes seriously, sometimes humorously, into stories which invade the field of the spiritualistic and occult.  Of such were 'Earthbound,' directed by T. Hays Hunter; 'One Glorious Day,' by James Cruze (both silents), and two recent sound films, Noel Coward in 'The Scoundrel,' by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and Robert Donat in 'The Ghost Goes West,' produced by Alexander Korda.

Now comes Hal Roach, heretofore identified with obvious action comedy and, with the assistance of Norman McLeod, as director, he has produced as weird and baffling a tale of spiritualism as the screen ever has seen.  It is entitled 'Topper,' from a story by the late Thorne Smith.  It is carefully made, excellently photographed, and adroitly employs mechanical illusions of cinematic composition and trick sound effects.

How substantial the fan support will be in terms of box office dollars is difficult to anticipate.  None of the other films of similar theme aroused more than mild enthusiasm among a small group who patronize the arty theatres and talk about pictures in terms of art expression.  The rank and file of theatergoers will experience difficulty in following strange and surprising twists of the story, and are not likely to distinguish easily the passages of realism from the sequences of unreality.

Story is about the adventures, among living persons, of a young married couple, George and Marion Kerby, who are killed in an automobile smashup as the climax of a wild night of drinking and carousing.  Their astral bodies rise from the ruins, and their conversation continues in a casual manner as to their next objective.  They agree that until they have done some one a good deed they are likely to remain indefinitely in a state of double exposure.  Reviewing the possibilities for charitable action, they decide that their friend, Cosmo Topper, a hen-pecked bank president, who has lived a dull, routine life, shall have the benefit of their assistance.

Same carefree, flippant viewpoint on life which characterized the couple before their death maintains throughout the subsequent series of farcical events.  Possessed with unusual power, they are able at will to appear in the flesh, converse and move about among their friends.  Occasionally, they make known their presence by spoken words only.  All the comedy and playfulness of their adventures results from these attributes.  They engage, both visibly and unseen, in street brawls, as drivers of speeding automobiles, as frightening specters in hotel lobbies and restaurants.

Effort to excuse the story's absurdities on the theory that the intent is farce comedy does not entirely excuse the production from severe rebuke.  Fact also that the living dead always are facetious may be shocking to sensibilities.  Some of the situations and dialog offend conventional good taste.

Performances, however, are usually good.  Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, as the reincarnated Kerbys, do their assignments with great skill.  Roland Young carries the brunt of the story and does it well.  In the titel role, he is the docile, good citizen until the transformation of his personality changes him into a dashing man about town.  Billie Burke plays the less important role of Mrs. Topper with effect.  Both Alan Mowbray, as the Toppers' butler, and Eugene Pallette, as a hotel detective, are splendid.  Arthur Lake gets a lot of fun from a small role as an elevator boy.

'Toper' will be talked about both in and outside the industry.  The skill with which camera and sound effects have been accomplished sets a standard for mechanical excellence.  Settings are elaborate.  But whether word of mouth advertising will be sufficient to overcome the obstacles which this type of story always combats is questionable.  Probably not.  

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - August 20, 1937
- by B.R.C.
- submitted by Barry Martin
Admittedly rather a heavy consignment of whimsy to be shipping from the printed page to the screen, "Topper" was unloaded at the Capitol yesterday in a condition which, judging by the encouraging advance notices - should justify at least a mild complaint against either the shippers or the transfer company. The practice is to give the author the benefit of the doubt in cases where a doubt exists, so we are going to assume that Thorne Smith's yarn about a pair of ectoplasmic screwballs who charitably set right the henpecked, suburban world of Cosmo Topper, by converting Cosmo to champagne and his wife to lacy underthings, possessed all the delicious whimsy which in the film is only a mechanically garnished dish of whimsy substitute.

We honestly regret our inability to shout hurrah for "Topper," because everybody seems to have tried hard to make it click: Mr. Roach, the producer; Mr. McLeod, the director; the three screen authors, and the players, especially the players. But whimsy is a delicate and perishable commodity and nobody need be blamed for the slight spoilage in transit. Certainly not Constance Bennett, who used to be expected to do nothing more than look glamorous and haut-monde, and who becomes in "Topper" almost as animated as Luise Rainer. Nor Cary Grant, who is so conscientious that we feel a positive pang when these two handsome and frivolous creatures smash their fancy roadster against a tree and become equally handsome and frivolous ghosts.

Still nonchalant, albeit transparent as amoebas, the pair agree they must have a good deed to their credit before the celestial trumpets sound and decide to do something about Topper - poor old Topper - the president of a bank - worth millions - but getting nothing out of life. Establishing contact with Topper, who is even more eager than his saviors, they precipitate a number of mildly amusing double-exposure situations in which Roland Young, lately of "The Man Who Could Work Miracles," seems peculiarly at home.

In fact, Mr. Young and his fellow players are responsible for whatever success an otherwise completely irresponsible film enjoys: Billie Burke as Mrs. Topper, Alan Mowbray as Wilkins, Eugene Pallette as a house detective, and, of course, the hard-working Miss Bennett and Mr. Grant.  

- by Kathy Fox

TOPPER is Cary Grant's 27th film and his only movie with Constance Bennett.  Some behind the scenes history:  Originally W. C. Fields was to have played the role of Topper and Jean Harlow was to have played Mrs. Kerby, but Harlow became ill and passed away shortly before the film commenced.  Cary was a neighbor to Hal Roach, producer of Topper.  Roach offered to give Grant the difference to make up for a salary of $50,000.00 if the picture was a success.  Grant and Roach had their differences in the picture because Grant was a perfectionist and Roach just kind of let things happen; thus Grant was relieved when the picture was finished; also he was not a fan of Constance Bennett who got top billing.  Grant's Kerby was a very popular character and Cary took some of his character's qualities and adopted them as personal traits of his own permanent character.   Of course, years later in the fifties, the television seriesl, starring Leo G. Carroll as Topper, and Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys as George and Marion Kerby, was based on this movie.

Grant plays George Kerby who is married to Marion Kerby, played by Constance Bennett.  They are a young fun-loving couple who tend to drink too much and one day, they have an accident and are killed, but they cannot get to heaven without performing one good deed.  They select Cosmo Topper, who is a hen-pecked husband whose wife rules the roost, to help him fine-tune his life.  The Kerby's spirits come back and play havoc with Cosmo and Mrs. Topper until one day, Cosmo is also involved in an accident at the same place where the Kerbys had had their accident earlier, and is almost killed.  At the thought of losing her husband, Mrs. Topper realizes her domineering ways and decides to change.

CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE Film Review - September 16, 1937
- by Mae Tinée
- submitted by Renee Klish

Miss Bennett Back in Films as a Ghost

Good Morning!

Constance Bennett seemed by way of becoming just a memory.  She comes back into our lives as - a spook! - making merry with her now visible and now invisible husband [Cary Grant] in a fantastic photoplay based on the likewise novel of Thorne Smith.

Beware of spooks intent on doing good deeds - or should you?  The answer really doesn't matter, but "Topper" does, in that for the most part it is hilarious entertainment with unexpected - if screwy - angles.

Topper?  Well, Mr. Topper is the name.  He is a bank president and the carefully guarded husband of a conventional Mrs. Topper who sees to it that his life is run by the clock.  She is aided and abetted by an indefatigable butler, and life is mousey drab for little Cosmos until - 

The completely unconventional Kerbys meet with the accident that turns them into busy ghosts, who realize that in all their flighty lives they have never done a really good deed and that they're going to be in hard luck in the hereafter if they don't start boy scouting in a hurry . . . They concentrate on making existence bigger and better for Mr. Topper . . .

The Kerbys appear and disappear at will.  They have to be saving of their ectoplasm, you learn . . . Hotels, night clubs and private residences are thrown into pandemonium by the sudden animation of inanimate objects, as they resolutely work out the accomplishment of their "good deed." 

The picture is brightly acted, directed and dialoged.  It drags a bit now and then - but only now and then - and yesterday's audiences at the Roosevelt seemed to be enjoying it immensely.

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