Topper Movies

by Michael D Walker on May 1, 2012

Topper Movies

All told there were three Topper movies made in Hollywood. All three were produced by Hal Roach Studios, the same company that brought us The Little Rascals, Laurel & Hardy, and Turnabout (based on the Thorne Smith novel).

The first Topper movie was released July 16, 1937.  It was based on Thorne Smith’s wildly popular novel.  The movie featured Cary Grant, Constance Bennett, Roland Young and Billie Burke.  This was Cary Grant’s first film as an independent actor.  He’d successfully freed himself from the old Hollywood studio system which typically kept actors with a single studio and rarely granted them the opportunity to accept film roles at other studios. The success of this Topper movie skyrocketed Cary Grant’s career to new heights.  It also earned Roland Young an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Cosmo Topper.  After watching his incredibly physical performance, I’m still astounded he did not win.

The second of the Topper movies, Topper Takes A Trip, was released January 12, 1939. This one was also based on a Thorne Smith book of the same name. Most of the stars from the first film returned for this one with the notable exception of Cary Grant, whose salary had soared after the success of Topper.  He does appear in flashback sequences, which was accomplished using scenes from the first Topper movie.  Roy Seawright was nominated for an Academy Award in the “Best Effects, Special Effects” category.  Sadly, he did not win.

The third of the Topper movies, Topper Returns, was released March 21, 1941.  Despite popular belief to the contrary, this was not based on a Thorne Smith novel.  However, screenwriter Jonathan Latimer did a wonderful job in keeping with the zany spirit of Thorne Smith’s characters. Roland Young and Billie Burke reprised their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Topper, while Joan Blondell took over the character of Marion Kerby. Once again, the masterful Roy Seawright was nominated for an Academy Award in the “Best Effects, Special Effects” category.  Unfortunately, he did not win.  I don’t know about you but the Academy sure seems biased against comedy films when it comes time to acknowledge the best in film.

I just negotiated the rights to a wonderful article about Topper Returns from film writer Ken Hanke.  He’s the author of several top notch books; Charlie Chan at the Movies, Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker, and Ken Russell’s Films.  As soon as I can get the contents of the article uploaded you’ll be able to enjoy Ken’s splendid article.

In the meantime, you can watch a fun preview of Topper Returns at: http://www.thornesmith.net/Topper-Returns.html

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Have You Tried The Paleo Diet Yet May 1, 2012 at 9:37 PM

How impressive that there were many nominations for awards. Unfortunately, comedies are typically not winners.

Yours In Health!

Dr. Wendy

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Vitamins Minerals Supplements Enzymes May 1, 2012 at 10:20 PM

The Little Rascals and Laurel & Hardy…it sounds like Topper was definitely in good company.

Yours In Health!

G.E. Moon II

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Cherie Miranda May 1, 2012 at 11:31 PM

Thanks for the information on the Topper movies and for the trailer! I’d love to take an afternoon/evening and do a Topper movie marathon. :)

Cherie Miranda
Meditation To Overcome Problems

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Kevin Hogan May 2, 2012 at 4:29 AM

I will have to pick up the movies! Like Sonya said, movies today are not like those of the pre-60′s.

Mark Hogan

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Margarita @ Body Language Decoding May 2, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Michael, I wish a remake of all movies were available now. Thank you for the short video. Commedies are about something good. unfortunately “good” is not popular.

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Lyle R. Johnson: The Sales Wizard & Mentor May 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

I truly appreciate your promotion of Thorne Smith / Topper. I really enjoy the great old B&W … like I have every “Bogie” movie and can re-watch until I can lip-sync and still enjoy. Keep up the great work.

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Web Dating Expert Los Angeles May 3, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Hi Michael,

THe LA Hollywood Entertainment industry certainly has changed over the years. I love and adore the old classic Hollywood Hey Day movies which such places like Turner Classic Movies (TCM) screen for us. Did you know that TCM has movie screening festivities live periodically on Los Angeles? I wonder they will feature a TOPPER fest sometime in 2012 or 2013?

Happy Dating and Relationships,

April Braswell

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Eva Palmer May 7, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I would like to know more about Topper. Apart from the books he wrote and the movies that were made from the books, what kind of man was he?

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Lyle R. Johnson: The Sales Wizard & Mentor May 8, 2012 at 5:52 PM

Michael, checking in again to see how you and the Topper resurrection are doing. Great work on a great challenge.

Lyle R. Johnson

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David November 29, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Which Topper DVDs being sold on Amazon are the best quality ones?

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