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Ruggles of Red Gap

Ruggles of Red Gap
theatrical release poster
Directed by Leo McCarey
Produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr.
Screenplay by Walter DeLeon
Harlan Thompson
Story by Humphrey Pearson
Based on Ruggles of Red Gap
1915 novel 
by Harry Leon Wilson[1][2]
Cinematography Alfred Gilks
Edited by Edward Dmytryk[3]
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
February 19, 1935 (1935-02-19TUS)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Ruggles of Red Gap is a 1935 comedy film directed by Leo McCarey and starring Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charlie Ruggles and ZaSu Pitts, and featuring Roland Young and Leila Hyams. It was based on the best-selling 1915 novel by Harry Leon Wilson, adapted by Humphrey Pearson and with a screenplay by Walter DeLeon and Harlan Thompson. It is the story of a newly rich American couple from the West who win a British gentleman's gentleman in a poker game.


In 1908 the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young) gambles away his eminently correct English manservant, Marmaduke Ruggles (Charles Laughton). Ruggles' new masters, crude nouveau riche American millionaires Egbert and Effie Floud (Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland), bring Ruggles back to Red Gap, Washington, a remote Western boomtown. When Ruggles is mistaken for a wealthy retired Englishman colonel, he becomes a celebrity in the small town. As Ruggles attempts to adjust to his rough new community, he learns to live life on his own terms, achieving a fulfilling independence as a result.

The climax of the film is Laughton’s recitation of the Gettysburg Address in a saloon filled with rough Western characters who are held spellbound by the speech. Newly imbued with the spirit of democracy and self-determination, Ruggles becomes his own man, giving up his previous employment and opening a restaurant in Red Gap.


Awards and nominations

Charles Laughton won the New York Film Critics' Circle Awards for Ruggles of Red Gap (along with Mutiny on the Bounty) in 1935. The National Board of Review named the film the ninth best of 1935. [That year, Laughton's other two films, Les Misérables and Mutiny on the Bounty were sixth and eighth on the list, respectively]. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and competed against two other Laughton films that were also nominated: Mutiny on the Bounty (which won the award) and Les Misérables.

In 2014, Ruggles of Red Gap was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[4]

Other adaptations

Harry Leon Wilson's novel, Ruggles of Red Gap, was adapted for the Broadway stage as a musical in 1915, the same year it was published,[5] and was made into a silent film in 1918 and 1923 (the latter with Edward Everett Horton as Ruggles). A color musical version called Fancy Pants was released in 1950, starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.[6]

Ruggles of Red Gap was adapted as a radio play on the July 10, 1939 episode of Lux Radio Theater, the December 17, 1945 episode of The Screen Guild Theater and the June 8, 1946 episode of Academy Award Theater, all with Charles Laughton and Charlie Ruggles reprising their film parts.



  1. ^ Sennwald, Andre (March 7, 1935). "Movie Review: Ruggles of Red Gap". New York Times Books. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dmytryk, Edward (1978). It's a Hell of a Life, but not a Bad Living. New York: New York Times Book Company. p. 34. ISBN 9780812907858. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Ruggles of Red Gap Production Credits". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  6. ^ Osborne, Robert Outro to the Turner Classic Movies showing of the 1935 film (March 3, 2014)

External links

Streaming audio