Champagne for Caesar (1950)
B & W, Comedy, 99 minutes
Released by RKO Pictures
Directed by Richard Whorf
Produced by George Moskov
Screenplay by Fred Brady and Hans Jacoby
Principal Cast (in order of appearance):
Ellye Marshall . . . . . . . . . Frosty
Ronald Colman . . . . . . . . . Beauregard Bottomley
Barbara Britton . . . . . . . . Gwenn Bottomley
Byron Foulger . . . . . . . . . Gerald
Vincent Price . . . . . . . . . Burnbridge Waters
Art Linkletter . . . . . . . . . “Happy” Hogan
Gabriel Heatter . . . . . . . . himself
Celeste Holm . . . . . . . . . . Flame O’Neill
Here’s one that got lost in the shuffle. This is a nifty little comedy in which you’ve got Ronald Colman, a debonair leading man of the 1930s now moved on to character parts; leading B-movie girls Celeste Holm and Barbara Britton; and, in a surprise comedic turn, that great master of horror, Vincent Price, as the pompous and strange owner of the Milady Soap Company.
Champagne for Caesar starts out with an acerbic comment on radio quiz shows of the day. Colman plays Beauregard Bottomley, a character obviously modeled after Clifton Webb’s famous ‘Mr Beauregard’ (funny those choice of names, eh!). Beauregard is a bookish man who, by his own admission, “knows everything”. One night he and his sister Gwenn are discussing the many quiz shows popping up on the radio.
Gwenn thinks the shows are little more than harmless entertainment, but not Beauregard. He believes they’re ruining the intellect of America and launches into a tirade against them. Anyone of average intelligence, he asserts, could appear on a quiz show, win, and walk away with the prize. Wanting to test his pompous theories, Gwenn challenges Beauregard to do just that.
Beauregard agrees to become a contestant on Milady Soap’s quiz show, hosted by “Happy” Hogan (played by Art Linkletter, later to become famous as the host of TV’s “House Party” show). Not surprisingly, he whizzes through the questions each week, until he’s reached the maximum prize amount. Hogan is all set to wish Beauregard well, and usher in a new contestant … but Beauregard has another idea. Using the overwhelming audience reaction he receives, Beauregard convinces Hogan to let him continue appearing on the program. By returning each week, and draining the sponsor of prize money, Beauregard intends to ultimately ruin the show and thus make a statement about quiz shows in general.
Week after week, Beauregard returns and answers tougher and tougher questions, and each time is victorious. After a few months, he’s won so much money that the sponsor has only one thing left – the Milady Soap Company itself. Scheming to stop Beauregard from winning one more time and taking over his company, Burnbridge Waters unleashes his “secret weapon” – a beautiful, highly intelligent, unscrupulous woman named Flame O’Neill.
Posing as a nurse to take care of Beauregard (who’s caught a cold), Flame works her way first into his confidence and then into his heart. She proves to be just enough of a distraction for his finely tuned mind – or does she? Will Beauregard answer the final question and take over the Milady Soap Company? Is Burnbridge Waters all washed up? Is Happy Hogan really in love with Gwenn, or just leading her on?
These questions and more can be resolved by getting a copy of Champagne for Caesar on VHS and settling back for a bit of harmless movie fun!
The Internet Movie Database
.<http://www.imdb.com>. (November 2003).
repeated viewing of the film