Hal Roach Presents Topper
Based on Thorne Smith’s Lively Characters
In 1937, film producer Hal Roach was in search of a screwball comedy and adapted a racy novel by Thorne Smith. The resulting production starred Cary Grant and Constance Bennett as mischievous, fun-loving ghosts, George and Marion Kerby. Once again, Hal Roach had picked a winner. Thorne Smith’s Topper movie was a huge success with audiences worldwide.
In the film, the carefree couple are major stockholders at a bank managed by the stuffy, morose Cosmo Topper. When the Kerby’s die in a tragic automobile accident, their ghosts emerge from the wreckage. George and Marion are determined to perform a good deed, and decide to rescue their friend Cosmo from his monotonous, schedule-driven life.
Unable to shake his invisible companions, Cosmo begins to loosen up and have a little fun, getting into plenty of trouble along the way. Roland Young portrays the title character, while Billie Burke shines as his pretentious, socially ambitious wife, Clara. Adding to the lively cast are Alan Mowbray as Wilkins the butler, Eugene Pallette as a house detective, Arthur Lake as a hotel bellboy, and Hedda Hopper as Mrs. Grace Stuyvesant.
Hal Roach had a well-deserved reputation for producing hits. Indeed, his Topper movie was successful enough to warrant two film sequels, as well as a popular Topper TV series in 1953, which starred Leo G. Carroll as the beleaguered banker.
Topper Lobby Card
Hal Roach Presents
Starring Constance Bennett and Roland Young
Marion: Let’s go have some dinner.
Cosmo: Oh no, we cannot eat on an empty stomach!
Marion: Then we better have a few drinks first!
Starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett
Topper is a comedy film that was adapted by Eric Hatch, Jack Jevne, and Eddie Moran from Thorne Smith’s popular novel of the same name. Cosmo is a stuffy banker who finds himself haunted by the ghosts of George and Marion Kerby, former and recently departed shareholders at his bank. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are superb as the fun-loving ghosts who take it upon themselves to do a good deed for their dear friend, whose daily routine is micromanaged by his doting wife, Clara and their officious butler, Wilkins.
Topper was directed by Norman Z. McLeod, produced by Hal Roach, and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The supernatural comedy was a huge hit with movie audiences in the summer of 1937. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards—one for Roland Young as Best Actor in a Supporting Role and another for Best Sound, Recording.
Cary Grant had a percentage deal on the film and earned a sizable profit. Scenes from the film were used in the sequel, Topper Takes a Trip, and Cary Grant’s name appeared in the credits, though he was not prominently featured. Neither Cary Grant nor Constance Bennett appeared in the third film, Topper Returns.
Topper Movie DVD
Double Feature Includes Topper and Topper Returns
Starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett
Topper Movie Cast
Cary Grant … George Kerby
Constance Bennett … Marion Kerby
Roland Young … Cosmo Topper
Billie Burke … Clara Topper
Alan Mowbray … Wilkins the Butler
Arthur Lake … Elevator Boy
Hedda Hopper … Mrs. Grace Stuyvesant
George Humbert … Tony (Nightclub Owner)
Topper Movie Facts & Trivia
Hal Roach Studios, Inc.
- Producers: Milton H. Bren (Associate Producer) and Hal Roach (Producer, uncredited)
- Director: Norman Z. McLeod
- Writers: Thorne Smith (Novel) – Jack Jevne, Eric Hatch, and Eddie Moran (Screenplay)
- Release Date: July 16, 1937 (USA)
- Genres: Comedy – Fantasy – Romance
- Oscar Nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Roland Young
- Oscar Nomination for Best Sound, Recording: Elmer Raguse (Hal Roach SSD)
- Producer Hal Roach originally wanted W.C. Fields and Jean Harlow to costar as George and Marion Kerby, but neither was available.
- The Kerby’s fancy finned-back car was custom built by the Bohman & Schwartz Co. using a 1936 Buick Roadmaster chassis.
- Cosmo Topper’s car is a 1936 Lincoln Model K.
- In 1985, Topper was the first black and white film to be re-released in color using a controversial process known as film colorization.
Topper Lobby Card
Hal Roach Presents
Starring George Humbert, Cary Grant, Constance Bennett, and Hoagy Carmichael
Topper “Old Man Moon”
Lyrics and Music by Hoagy Carmichael
My favorite scene occurs when an inebriated George and Marion Kerby join the legendary Hoagy Carmichael to sing the film’s signature tune, “Old Man Moon.” Hoagy Carmichael’s song is woven throughout the film, and several variations are performed by the vocal quartette “Three Hits and a Miss” while George and Marion are out for an evening on the town. Their last, as it turns out.
Composer Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael is best known for writing the songs “Stardust,” “Georgia On My Mind,” and “Heart and Soul.” Indeed, they are three of the most-recorded American songs of all time.
As a performer, Hoagy Carmichael wore many hats. He was an accomplished pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader.
Hoagy Carmichael was also a law school graduate. He received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1925, and a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law one year later. He was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and played the piano to finance his education.
Among his friends was fellow Midwesterner Bix Beiderbecke, a legend on the cornet who also played a mean piano. Hoagy Carmichael was influenced by Beiderbecke’s impressionistic and classical musical styles. Bix Beiderbecke introduced Hoagy Carmichael to another music legend, jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, with whom he also collaborated.
The Stardust Road & Sometimes I Wonder
The Autobiography of Hoagy Carmichael
by Hoagy Carmichael, Stephen Longstreet, and John Edward Hasse
Composer of “Stardust,” “Georgia On My Mind,” “Heart and Soul,” and other classic American songs
Will There Be a New Topper Movie?
Comedian Steve Martin is scheduled to reteam with Bringing Down the House director Adam Shankman for a remake of the supernatural comedy based on Thorne Smith’s Topper.
The original 1937 film starred Roland Young as Cosmo Topper, a stuffy, henpecked bank executive haunted by two mischievous ghosts who, until their untimely demise, lived large as the bank’s major stockholders. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett were brilliantly cast as the fun-loving married couple, George and Marion Kerby.
In the remake, the couple’s names have been changed to George and Mimi Kirby. At this time, Steve Martin is the only actor attached to the film, and no production start date has been announced. Stay tuned!
Internet Movie Database
Steve Martin attached to play Cosmo Topper, an up-tight estate liquidator who’s hired to sell off the estate of George and Mimi Kirby, a recently-deceased wealthy young socialite couple who have no intention of letting their ghostly forms stop them from partying … or from trying to show Topper what life’s all about.
Mobilgas Special Custom Car
Meet One of America’s Most Spectacular Cars
The Mobilgas Special is both one of the nation’s finest examples of custom-car creation and a vehicle with a movie star background!
The car is powered by a new 235-horsepower Chrysler engine in a modified Chrysler Imperial Newport chassis. The body, originally created for the “Topper” films by Bohman & Son in 1937, is an example of classic design that continues to be in vogue.
The “Topper Car”
Enjoy a Comedic Romp Along the French Riviera
Halloween Fun Shopping
Missed Something? Go Back
- 1 Hal Roach Presents Topper
- 2 Topper Lobby Card
- 3 Topper (1937)
- 4 Topper Movie DVD
- 5 Topper Movie Cast
- 6 Topper Movie Facts & Trivia
- 7 Topper Lobby Card
- 8 Topper “Old Man Moon”
- 9 Hoagy Carmichael
- 10 The Stardust Road & Sometimes I Wonder
- 11 Topper Movie
- 12 Mobilgas Special Custom Car
- 13 The “Topper Car”
- 14 Celebrate Halloween
- 15 Halloween Fun Shopping