Challenge Week 26: Dinner at the Ritz

For this one, Naomi REALLY reached deep into the vaults, pulling out a 1937 British mystery I had never ever heard of. It’s fallen into the public domain, but the print I saw was pretty decent for being in that condition, and I had an overall good experience with the film.

Some of the story was a little hard to follow in the beginning, as it seems like it’s going to be some kind of relationship/marriage drama between French banker’s daughter Ranie Racine (Annabelle) and her beau, the Baron Philippe de Beaufort (Paul Lukas), but then quickly some kind of banking fraud plot is introduced courtesy of Ranie’s father, and then he turns up dead, an apparent suicide, but Ranie is convinced that it’s murder and heads out on her own to uncover the fraud ring behind it. Soon she’s joined by dashing David Niven and American detective Romney Brent (who also cowrote the screenplay).

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The film doesn’t care too much about the lead-up to the mystery, leaving the fraud itself as a pretty vague McGuffin, which was fine once I realized that and stopped trying to understand it. Really, this fraud ring works like a syndicate or combination in an American fraud film, but much higher class, since they’re European. I mean, the kingpin travels around between Riviera hotspots on his yacht.

It’s a light and enjoyable film, another bit of fluff which, again, I needed this week. I’ve never seen Annabella in any other films, but she’s utterly delightful and her accent utterly genuine, which is more than I can say for anyone else in the film. Annabella (French), Lukas (German) and Niven (British) are all supposed to be French, even though they’re all using their own accents. Thankfully, I find accent inconsistency in old movies more charming than annoying, so this didn’t bother me, but I did chuckle a bit.

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Stats and stuff…

1937, UK
directed by Harold D. Schuster, written by Roland Pertwee and Romney Brent
starring Annabella, David Niven, Paul Lukas, Romney Brent

I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Dinner at the Ritz entered my chart:

Dinner at the Ritz > Hair Conditioned
Dinner at the Ritz < The Savages
Dinner at the Ritz > The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
Dinner at the Ritz < Excalibur
Dinner at the Ritz > Kawasaki’s Rose
Dinner at the Ritz < Signs
Dinner at the Ritz < While the City Sleeps
Dinner at the Ritz > The Music Man
Dinner at the Ritz < Rupert and the Frog Song
Dinner at the Ritz > Scent-imental Over You
Dinner at the Ritz > In the Heat of the Night
Dinner at the Ritz > The Boondocks Saints

Final #1241 out of 3672 films on my chart (66%)

It is now my #2 Harold D. Schuster film, my #1 Annabella film, my #4 David Niven film, my #3 Paul Lukas film, my #24 Detective Film, and my #11 film of 1937.

Dinner at the Ritz was recommended by Naomi Laeuchli, a friend from the Flickcharters group on Facebook. Averaging together this #1241 ranking with my #907 ranking of her other film, April in Paris, gives Naomi an average ranking of 1074.

A few more screenshots…

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