This week’s installment of Todd Mason’s ongoing series is in honor of one of my favorite actresses, Olivia deHavilland, who turned 96 on July 1st.
Raffles is no less than the FOURTH screen adaptation of the 1899 novel by E. W. Hornung, Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman. It should be said that this is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of the 1930-Ronald Colman starrer (surely, Niven was given the role because he bore more than a passing resemblance to Mr. Colman). So who is to say if I had not seen this one first, what I would think.
In any regard, Raffles is a light romantic caper bolstered by the performances and interaction between the leads David Niven and Ms. deHavilland.
To say it is a minor film is not necessarily disparaging, especially when considering that it was released during “Hollywood’s Golden Year” of 1939, when another starring deHavilland reigned supreme; it was a small indie feature called Gone With the Wind. That said, I remember my enjoyment of this film quite fondly, as it always put a smile on my face
In our story, jewel thief, AJ Raffles (Niven) decides to give up his life of crime for the love of socialite Gwen (deHavilland), his high school sweetheart. This reformation is short-lived (of course) as he is tempted one last time.
It should also be noted that Dame May Whitty is featured in this film. Largely unknown by audiences today, she was a renowned stage actress who found a second life of sorts in the movies, with roles in such films as The Lady Vanishes, Mrs. Miniver and Suspicion.