3/23/10

For the Love of Price: Champagne for Caesar (1950)

Some romances know not the bounds of time, space, distance, dimension, or the cinema screen. One such romance has occurred between The LBL’s Fran Goria and Vincent Price. Once in a while the pull is just too overwhelming, and Miss Goria must put pen to paper for the love of the man, for the love of his movies…..

Champagne for Caesar (1950) Director: Richard Whorf. Writers: Fred Brady, and Hans Jacoby. Starring: Ronald Colman, Celest Holm, Vincent Price, and Barbara Britton.

Beauregard Bottomley (Colman) is a genius, who is seeking employment at the multi-million dollar Milady Soap Company. The president of Milady Soap is the eccentric Bumbridge Waters (Price). The interview goes badly, and Bottomley wishes to get even. He devises the perfect plan. Every week, Milady Soap sponsors a weekly quiz show, where the prize doubles with every correct answer. Bottomley gets on the show, and he uses his knowledge of everything to take the company for everything that it has.


Champagne for Caesar is a film I picked up a couple of years ago for my collection, but I never got around to watching it. There was always something else to see, and I just wasn’t sure if I would care for it much. It was completely different from the rest of my Price film and frankly it scared me. What if I did not like it? How would that fair to my love of Price? Well, my worries were unfounded. I really enjoyed the black and white comedy, and it taught me to never doubt Mr. Price. I mean, he is my favorite for a reason.

I think I will start by explaining the title of the film. Champagne for Caesar refers to Bottomley’s pet parrot, Caesar. The bird is a bit of an alcoholic, and he is partial to champagne. Beauregard and his sister, Gwen (Britton), found the parrot leaning against a lamppost, drunk, and unable to remember where he lived. The two took the bird in, and tried to wean him off the sauce. Caesar was voiced by Mel Blanc. I doubt that there is anyone who doesn’t know who Mel Blanc is, and all I’ll say is if it was a Warner Brothers cartoon then Blanc did the voices. Caesar was only in a couple of scenes, enough to be cute, but not enough to make the viewer want to kill the bird. Caesar also has one of the best lines in the film. “Polly wants a drink. Lets get loaded.”

Champagne for Caesar is a crisp and clean film. The look, the sound, the feel, and the screenplay are all crisp and clean. It was quite a refreshing comedy satire. Maybe this was because I expected so little, but I was surprised at my joy for it. Director Richard Whorf did a great job; I am surprised that there are so few movies in his filmography. He mostly has TV shows to his credit, but 68 episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies isn’t too shabby.An amazing cast came together for Champagne, but two men really stand out from the crowd (bet you can guess one of them). The lead role of Beauregard Bottomley was played by Ronald Coleman. He was originally a star of silent films, who made the transition to sound with ease. He was also well known on the stage and radio. Colman was one of Vincent Price’s acting idols, and the young star was a bit star struck to be working with such an accomplished actor. In fact, Price originally asked the director to make his first seen with Colman a non speaking one. It was easy to see why Price was so nervous. Colman was a true professional, who really captured the essence of Bottomley. He was a well bred genius and scholar. From his movements to his speech, Colman really embodied Bottomley, and he was just brilliant in this role.

Vincent Price was spectacular in the film as well. He played Bumbridge Waters, president of Milady Soap. Waters is pompous and arrogant man, who would stop at nothing to keep Bottomley from taking the company. Price was great in the role. His comedic timing and delivery was spot on. It was not often that Price was in a comedy without horror overtones, but he seemed very natural in the role. Bumbridge Waters was the role that landed Price his role in in 1985’s The Great Mouse Detective (a fantastic little animated Sherlock Holmes) tale 35 years later. Champagne for Caesar showed off yet another facet of Price’s gem of an acting career.

I was pleasantly surprised by my joy of Champagne for Caesar. While I will be the first admit that I am not well versed on 50’s satire, but I felt the story was original and different. The style and dialogue were wonderful and the cast a delight. Do not let the surface of this film discourage anybody from seeing it. It was just an all around good time and I for one feel like a better person for seeing it.

Price Rating

3 comments:

  1. i love this film and have not seen it. thank you for the review, will be watching it as soon as i have time to breath.

    ReplyDelete
  2. and also i'm with polly, going to get loading

    ReplyDelete

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