Drama / Black & White / Family
62 minutes / 1936
Ernest Bliss (Cary Grant) is a young man who has inherited a lot of money from his father. That’s allowed him to have a very nice house, to buy whatever he wants, and to never worry about working.
Yet he’s nervous, can’t eat, and can’t sleep. When he goes to the specialist and the doctor diagnoses him with “self-indulgence” Bliss is both offended and intrigued. What’s the prescription then? The doctor tells Bliss to earn his own living for a year and dismisses him with a wave, knowing that this pampered socialite will never follow this advice. But Bliss ends up making him a bet: if Bliss does do it, then one year from now he’ll expect a handshake and an apology from the doctor, and if Bliss loses, then he’ll give £50,000 for the doctor’s downtown charity clinic.
That’s the setup, and the general plotline is as you might expect. Bliss learns some lessons about just how it can be for a regular Joe, and it isn’t too long before he’s secretly using his connections and money to help the struggling people who have befriended him.
The only caution I would add is a mild one. At one point a conniving employer tries to so arrange things that he’ll be alone with his newly hired secretary. But before he gets anywhere at all, Bliss intervenes. Nothing at all happens, and I mention it only to give a heads up to parents, in case their kids question why it was that Bliss thought the lady needed rescuing.
This is part The Prince and the Pauper and part Cinderella, and while it might be predictable (though there are a couple of twists) it’s also delightful! This makes for very fun family fare, though, even as my whole family enjoyed it, we did have to stop it a few times to help our 6-year-old clue into what exactly was going on. So maybe the ideal ages are 8 to 108.
If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch a version with closed captions here. But because the film’s copyright wasn’t renewed it is also freely available below (and it can even be chromecast to your TV).