One Parisian evening in 1908, English Lord Burnstead (Young) loses his devoted valet Ruggles (Laughton) in a poker game to the considerably less refined Egbert Floud (Ruggles) of Red Gap, Washington. Poor Ruggles takes this dramatic change in stride: arriving in Red Gap, he gamely attempts both to acclimate himself to small-town American life and keep a tight leash on his rowdy new employer. This last charge comes at the behest of wife Effie (Boland), who hopes their new valet will give them a leg up in local society. As Ruggles slowly adjusts to his new domain, he comes to realize that this small town might offer him the opportunity to become his own man.
Leo McCarey's 1936 Best Picture Nominee holds up as ageless class satire, also lampooning Anglo-American relations in the bargain. The whole cast is splendid, but Laughton and Ruggles play off each other particularly well as virtual opposites thrown together by fate. But beyond the belly laughs, "Ruggles" is also quite touching. Each character is treated with considerable affection, and eventually, this dizzying clash of cultures evolves into a heartwarming tale of acceptance and coming into one's own. Highlight: Ruggles recites the Gettysburg Address.