THE AMAZING QUEST OF ERNEST BLISS
UK, 1936, 61 minutes, Black and white.
Cary Grant, Mary Brian.
Directed by Arthur Zeisler.
The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss was made just after Sylvia Scarlett. Cary Grant was emerging as a star, having appeared with Mae West in She Done Him Wrong. Within a year or two he was to appear in Bringing Up Baby, Holiday and Only Angels Have Wings. This was an opportunity for him to perform as an Englishman and in a film in his native Britain.
Alfred Zeisler was born in America but worked in the German industry from 1930 to 1933 when he returned to the United States, producing a number of films, directing only a few. The film was written by John L. Balderston who was a prolific writer of films and plays including in the early 1930s Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. He also adapted Bride of Frankenstein, Mad Love and Dracula’s Daughter all before Ernest Bliss. He then made The Last of the Mohicans, Prisoner of Zenda.
1.A brief entertaining film? The background of the Depression? The style of story beloved of Frank Capra? The millionaire who makes good personally? Helping others?
2.The London locations, the opportunity to see London as it looked in the mid-30s? Piccadilly Circus? The underground …? The musical score?
3.The title, the focus on Ernest Bliss, his name? The quest? Cary Grant as Ernest Bliss?
4.Ernest Bliss, his wealth, lifestyle? High society? His friends borrowing money? His boredom? His going to the doctor, the discussion about his condition, the doctor’s severe comments? The bet?
5.Ernest and his leaving his apartment, leaving the butler in charge? His searching for a job, the collage of refusals for work? His going to the boarding house, his friendship with the lady? Helping her later with the money?
6.Going to the stove firm? Meeting Frances? Masters? Their hiring him, his attempts to sell the stoves, the collage of failure? His return?
7.His idea, the free meals, borrowing the money from his account, setting up the situation, people eating, the wholesale salesman arriving, the techniques to keep him on the hook? Masters coming? The success of the sale? Frances impressed?
8.His becoming a taxi driver? Meeting his society friends, their kindness to him, giving the loan, returning the brooch? His driving the doctor – and helping him with his mission to East London? The clash with the owner of the cab firm, his friendship with the mechanic? Buying the company? Sacking the manager, promoting the mechanic?
9.The year passing? His being in love with Frances, taking her to the restaurants, his friendship with the host? Frances and her financial difficulties, ambitions? Her message from her mother, her sister’s illness, the decision to marry Masters to help her sister?
10.Ernest, his confrontation with Frances? Discovering the truth? The marriage, the happy ending? Her discovering the truth about him?
11.A riches-to-rags-to-riches story – the moral of the story? Generosity? Work? The graciousness of the doctor in acknowledging Ernest’s winning of the bet?