Ruggles of Red Gap was serialized beginning December 26, 1914 in the Saturday Evening Post and became a best selling novel in 1915 by Harry Leon Wilson , adapted for the Broadway stage as a musical the same year , and made into a movie several times , most famously in 1935.
In the comedy Western film directed by Leo McCarey, Lord Burnstead (Roland Young) gambles away his eminently correct English butler, Marmaduke Ruggles (Charles Laughton). Ruggles' new 'owners', crude nouveau riche Americans Egbert and Effie Floud (Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland), bring Ruggles back to Red Gap, Washington; a remote Western boomtown. When the butler is mistaken for a wealthy Englishman, he becomes a small-town celebrity. As Ruggles attempts to adjust to this 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 (something that does not happen in the original story). This occurs in a saloon filled with typical American Western characters, none of whom can recall any of the lines but are 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.
The film's supporting cast includes ZaSu Pitts, Leila Hyams, and Roland Young, and the screenplay was written by Walter DeLeon, Humphrey Pearson and Harlan Thompson. The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The novel contains perhaps the earliest specific reference to Levi brand jeans, clearly describing the trademark leather patch, or "placard" on the back waistband, illustrating "two teams of stout horses attempting to wrench it in twain." In the novel, Red Gap is located near Spokane, Washington. Ruggles predates P.G. Wodehouse's more famous manservant-hero, Jeeves, who debuted in 1915 but didn't become a central character until the 1916 story "Leave It to Jeeves."
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