Cinema: Hobson's Choice

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Directed and Written by Steve Gordon

Bertie Wooster and Jeeves — P.G. Wodehouse's immortal idler and stiff-upper-wit servant — are back, living in New York City under assumed names.

The former, in the person of the title character, is played by adorable Dudley Moore. The latter, known here as Hobson, has been updated by Sir John Gielgud to the point where he can deliver an obscene riposte if need be. But the basic joke remains the same: a rich man, perpetually tiddly from drink, gets incompetent self into various muddles; unflappable gentleman's gentleman gets him out. It has always been an excellent joke, and Writer-Director Gordon has added a dash of sentiment to their relationship, trusting Sir John's expertise to keep things taut and tart, which he does admirably.

Arthur's love life is also a smidge busier than Bertie's. There is, of course, an arranged match with a frightful rich girl (Jill Eikenberry) to be artfully avoided. But there is a true love to be claimed. She is played, with agreeable lack of mannerism, by Liza Minnelli as a waitress-actress-sometime shoplifter. It is nice to see the rich being silly again, the common people sensible, as in '30s screwball farces. And to hear exchanges like this: Arthur: "I think I'll take a bath." Hobson: "I'll alert the media." Moviegoers are hereby alerted to some good fun.

— R.S.