Champagne [1928]

A little-known comedy gem, this never-more-timely sendup of quiz shows and media promotions stars a delightfully aloof Ronald Colman as Beauregard Bottomley, the "last scholar." Beauregard, out of work and living with his sister (Barbara Britton), hits on the idea of making a bundle on the Masquerade for Money radio show, produced by Milady Soap and hosted by a good-natured dolt (yes, that's Art Linkletter). Initially, Beauregard is in it for the loot, but this soon changes as the show's apoplectic boss, Burnbridge Waters (Vincent Price), mobilizes his staff--and in-house Mata Hari (Celeste Holm)--to finish off the seemingly unflappable contestant. Now front-page news, Beauregard means higher ratings and increased soap sales. Burnbridge realizes he has created a monster. Directed by Richard Whorf from a script by Hans Jacoby and Fred Brady, with music by Dimitri Tiomkin, this sophisticated, rapid-fire lark will remind some of vintage Preston Sturges (Sullivan's Travels). It benefits immeasurably from the casting of Colman and Price as antagonists. Colman does a shrewd parody of his erudite charmers, and Price proves that he had the makings of a top-flight comedian well before he turned to ham-and-stakes horror. The title refers to Beauregard's alcoholic parrot and its choice of beverage. --Glenn Lovell

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