Charley’s Aunt (2010, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Original Release: 1941, 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 82 Minutes
– Commentary with Film Historian Randy Skretvedt
– “Three of a Kind” – Charley’s Aunt Promotional Short
– Still Gallery
Based on the popular play of the same name and set in 1890 at Oxford, the farcical Charley’s Aunt is easily one of Jack’s better movies (but not has best) and one I should really go back and listen to with the audio commentary on so I can pick up some fun facts. Jack definitely earns his starring role here. Benny is spot-on hilarious both in his role as aging (and endangered) college student Fancourt “Babbs” Babberly and in drag as Aunt Donna Lucia. Two other college students, Charley & Jack, need to find a chaperon in order to get two girls go out with them so they turn to (and blackmail) Babberly into dressing up and pretending to be Charley’s aunt.
The matter is complicated when one of the girls’ uncle/ward comes to Oxford and becomes attracted to Babberly’s Aunt Donna Lucia. Meanwhile, Jack’s uncle is also attracted to Lucia while Babberly himslef becomes attracted to the real Donna Lucia (he doesn’t know who she really is). Got it? The film has some innuendo and is a bit risque for its time. Just look at some of those “innocent” long kisses Babbs’ Aunt Donna Lucia puts on the girls! I mean, these young girls didn’t get the impression that Lucia was maybe into chicks?
The DVD packaging is pretty good and really treats this film like it is a classic (which it is but I suppose it’s been somewhat forgotten over time like most of Benny’s film career). There’s some nice lobby cards included as inserts and there’s a fun “Charley’s Aunt” promotional short film included that features cameos by Tyrone Power and Randolph Scott and Jack’s wife/radio cast-mate Mary Livingstone (voice only).
It’s an amazing privilege to see Benny in yet another movie and he proves what a great actor he is. His timing, mannerisms and facial expressions are priceless. All around fun film that I definitely recommend to any fans of classic comedies or anyone who may be a fan of Charley’s Aunt in its various other stage & screen adaptations. Right behind To Be Or Not To Be and George Washington Slept Here as one of Jack Benny’s best films.