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Merrily We Live

(1938 b 90')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A wealthy family takes in a stranded man, thinking he is a bum, and the mother hires him to replaced their chauffeur. The two sisters fall in love with him, and he charms the mother and helps the father.

         The butler Grosvenor (Alan Mowbray) notices the silver ware is gone, says they have been robbed, and faints. Etta (Patsy Kelly) and the other maid revive him. Jerry Kilbourne (Constance Bennett) asks her younger sister Marian Kilbourne (Bonita Granville) if it is one of her tricks. Grosvenor is leaving with his suitcase again until Jerry asks if he is leaving. He tells her the chauffeur Ambrose took the silver ware, and they have to use odd utensils at breakfast. The father Henry Kilbourne (Clarence Kolb) comes in with a rabbit and tells Marian to keep it out of his bedroom. He demands the newspaper. He complains she is undressed and has Jerry tell her to get some clothes on. Kane Kilbourne (Tom Brown) comes in and demonstrates an echo with his sisters. He wonders how long their mother will keep on picking up tramps. The mother Emily Kilbourne (Billie Burke) comes in with cheerful words. Jerry mentions Ambrose, and Emily praises him. Kane tells his mother he left with the silver. Emily says Grosvenor did not like Ambrose, and he goes to quit again. Emily cries and runs out. Henry hurries for his train, and Jerry gets in the car to drive him.

         On a mountain road Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) is driving an old jalopy that conks out. He releases steam from the radiator and gets water in a leaking bucket. His car rolls back off the road and down the mountain. He throws away the bucket and starts walking. He enters the yard of a large mansion and knocks on the front door. Grosvenor opens the door and tells him to scram. Emily sees the bum and welcomes him into their house. She tells Grosvenor to get him something to eat. Wade asks to use their telephone. Marian comes in with two dogs and is introduced to him. Emily asks Wade if he drives a car, and he says he did. Emily and Marian leave the room. Jerry comes in and tells Wade to get out. He refuses to move, and she rips his sleeve off. Emily comes back in, and Grosvenor hands Wade a tray with a sandwich. Emily orders Grosvenor to get him a uniform and says he is staying there.

         Grosvenor takes Wade to his room in the garage. He sees Wade talking to himself while shaving and thinks he is crazy. Grosvenor goes into the kitchen and tells the maids and Marian that the man is mad. Marian tries to sell the news to Jerry for fifty cents. Marian sees Wade in the uniform in the garden, and Jerry looks too.

         Outside Emily clips roses and talks with Wade. Emily introduces Wade to Jerry, who asks him to drive her to her club. She asks him to open the door, and he gets in first. She recommends a book on etiquette as they drive. He parks and is hit by another car driven by Herbert Wheeler (Phillip Reed). Wade writes down his license number. Herbert threatens him, but Wade refuses to fight. Jerry comes back and reprimands Herbert, gets into the car, and leaves with Wade, who says he can repair the damage. He drives her back home and opens the door for her. She tells Wade to get the bumper fixed and pick up her father at the station. He asks about her father, but she just says he arrives at five. He looks back and makes faces at Marian, who is standing behind Jerry.

         Grosvenor hands the phone to Jerry and says it is Mr. Wheeler. She tells him to say she is not home. Herbert calls her a stupid fool and then apologizes. Grosvenor hangs up on him.

         At the train station Wade calls for Mr. Kilbourne, who tells him to get back to the car. Henry tells his friends this is the night. Wade drives him, and Henry asks the tramp if he has stolen anything yet. Henry uses his key and enters the house.

         That evening Henry asks his family how his friends and neighbors feel. Jerry says Wade has possibilities. Grosvenor drops a cigar in an urn and gets his hand stuck. Henry is lecturing them. Emily is looking at her family tree which has a Wade. Marian tells her father she needs fifty cents in the worst way. Henry and Kane retire. Jerry tells her mother she is going out with Herbert.

         A taxi brings drunk Henry home, and Wade prevents the cabby from taking too much of Henry’s money. Wade throws the cabby back in his car and tries to calm Henry. Emily at the window asks Wade what is happening. Wade wakes up Henry and helps him into the house. Henry calls him a friend. Henry staggers up the stairs and down again. He goes to bed. Wade asks Marian why she is up so late and tells her to go to bed. She says she could go for him. She asks him to take the dogs out for a walk, and he agrees.

         Wade goes out with the dogs. Herbert brings Jerry home and tries to kiss her. She says no and slaps him. He drives off, and she sees Wade with the dogs. She says she has no key, and he suggests she use a window. He opens one and gets the dogs to go in. She tries to jump in but fails. He picks her up and then kneels down and offers his back. He says goodnight, and she drops her purse. He picks it up and hands her the keys. Emily tells Wade not to let that man in.

         In the morning Marian shouts that breakfast is ready. Grosvenor is carrying the four chimes and blames Marian for her trick. Kane comes in and tells Marian to leave him alone. Jerry stops them from fighting. Henry enters with a hangover. Marian demonstrates her singing voice, and Henry tells her to shut up. Henry takes aspirin. Emily comes in, and they all say, “Good morning.” Henry stands up and tells them a senator is coming there tonight, and he is important to his business. He asks them to act like adults. He tells Emily to get rid of Rawlins. Marian says he was up late, but Jerry defends him.

         Emily is sitting alone at the dinner table and coaches Rawlins how to serve. She rehearses how he should act. The servants watch secretly.

Grosvenor goes to get his bag again, saying Emily let Wade usurp his position. The maids talk him out of it.

         Jerry, Marian, and Kane enter the dining room. In the kitchen Grosvenor instructs Wade and warns him to keep his suit clean. Reynolds from the agency comes in to help them, and Grosvenor assigns him to the front door. Wade on the phone talks with Marian, who says her mother wants to see him.

         Minerva Harlan (Ann Dvorak) comes in and is greeted by Emily. Minerva is glad to meet Rawlins and takes his arm. In the kitchen they get a drink.

         Wade finishes his drink and goes to Emily; but she acts as if he is a guest, and Minerva takes hold of Wade again. Senator Harlan (Paul Everton) and Mrs. Harlan (Marjorie Rambeau) arrive, and Wade tries to go. They all go to get a drink. Jerry introduces the other guests to the Harlans. Henry pulls Marian away from Wade and threatens her if she brought Rawlins in as a guest. Herbert arrives, and Jerry gives him a drink. He notices Rawlins and asks her why he is there. Jerry tells him not to let on.

         Grosvenor announces dinner, and they go to the table. Minerva goes with Wade. Emily tells them where to sit, including Rawlins. The Senator says a woman in this neighborhood invites hobos into her home. Minerva asks Wade to call her tomorrow. The Senator suggests that a hobo would refuse to work.

         Later the Senator talks with Wade, who recommends Henry’s view on a bond issue. Guests say goodnight to Emily.

         Outside Herbert tells Jerry his low opinion of Wade. Minerva says goodnight to Wade and drives off. Herbert leaves. Wade takes Jerry’s hand and tells her she looks beautiful tonight.

         In the morning Etta on the phone gets an order for eggs. She tells Grosvenor it is for the guest in the blue room. She defends Rawlins. Grosvenor tells the family at the breakfast table that a guest is in the blue room. They all decide to follow him. Wade is in the bed and asks for the morning paper. Grosvenor tells Henry it is Rawlins. Henry enters with his newspaper, and he orders Wade to get out. Wade says he was in a predicament. He says he can’t go back to being his chauffeur. Henry tells him to go. Wade says it could affect Henry’s deal with the Senator. Henry answers the phone and says it is Minerva. Wade talks to her. She says her father wants to talk to him. Henry says he can make it.

         Henry tells Grosvenor to take Wade’s breakfast to him. He does so, and Emily comes in and tells Wade that he vindicates her theory. Wade says he is playing golf with Minerva.

         On the golf course Minerva admires how far Wade hits the ball. Kane and Jerry come up to that hole. In a sand trap Wade helps Minerva swing the club. Jerry sees them and tees off. She says she is going home.

         From her bedroom Jerry sees Minerva drive off. Outside Etta is carrying the garbage can and hides it from Wade. Jerry goes into the kitchen and puts on an apron. Wade comes in and sees her cooking fudge with pickles. She asks about his golf game and asks if he always puts his arms around his pupil. He says only with the girls. He leaves and declines to take her fudge. Outside Marian asks Wade if he is taking Jerry with him. She offers to tell him why Jerry wants to go with him for 25 cents. She says Jerry wants something she can’t have, but he grabs the quarter back and leaves. Jerry gets in a station wagon and drives off. Jerry comes out and tells him to wait to no avail.

         At a general store police ask about a roadster, and the man says he loaned it to Rawlins. They say it went over a bank on the grade.

         At night Rawlins stops at the store and knocks. The Negro servant hears but thinks he is walking in his sleep. He gets up again and thinks Rawlins is a ghost. He runs back to bed and tells him to go away. Rawlins asks for his bag, and he throws it out the door.

         Jerry is sad. Henry comes home, and Jerry says goodnight. She did not go out. He sits down next to her and asks her what is bothering her. He asks if he feels the same way about her. She does not know. He tells her whatever she does is okay with him.

         Outside Wade finds the door locked. Inside Jerry sees Grosvenor carrying a cleaver. Rawlins goes into the room in the garage.

         In the morning Grosvenor puts the chimes in the closet. He tells Etta to fix two 10-minute eggs. Marian and Jerry are greeted by a cheerful Henry. Emily comes in. Kane says he wants a car, and his father offers to buy him one. Henry learns his paper is with Rawlins. Jerry goes to see if he is through with it. She comes back with the paper and says he is not there. They look at the paper which reports that Rawlins was killed in a car accident. Everyone begins grieving. Etta sees Rawlins outside the window and faints. Marian bumps Henry who drops the smelling salts. The other maid sees Rawlins and faints. Henry spills water, slips, and falls down. He asks Etta what happened.

         Rawlins sits at the breakfast table. Emily comes in, sees Wade, and faints. He hears Jerry and tries to revive her on the couch. Kane says he is dead and runs out. He falls down, and trips his father. Wade tries to wake up Jerry. He picks her up and takes her out by the well. He draws the bucket and splashes water on her. She says he loves her and embraces him.

         Inside Grosvenor is dressed as a bum and tells Henry he has been in the wrong racket; he is leaving for the open road.

         This screwball comedy satirizes the wealthy who are eccentric and at least as foolish as others while a man who appears to be a bum acts like a gentleman.

Copyright © 2011 by Sanderson Beck

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