The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (1936)
At just 61 minutes long and having fallen into the public domain "The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss" which is also known as "The Amazing Adventure" is the sort of movie where your expectations are not really high. And if truth be told if it wasn't for the fact that I spotted that it was a Cary Grant movie I probably wouldn't have given it a second look but that is what I did. Now I am not going to say that "The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss" is a great movie but it is a movie with a good hearted story and Cary Grant delivering feel good charm which makes it a movie full of smiles and at just 61 minutes long is perfect when you don't have the time for a full length movie.
As his friend suggests Ernest Bliss (Cary Grant - Sylvia Scarlett) is rolling in money, but unfortunately for Ernest it is his wealth which has lead to a perpetual state of depression as he has nothing to do. It is what leads him to Harley Street Doctor Sir James Alroyd (Peter Gawthorne) who suggests that what Ernest needs is a good dose of reality and suggests that he can't last a year earning his own living without touching any of his wealth. Infuriated by the Doctor's advice Ernest turns it into a bet and with just a case of clothes and £5 in his pocket leaves a life of luxury to make his own way.
The big reason why "The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss" works is because this simple storyline has great heart, a classic old heart warmer where a rich man learns about living and what is important whilst helping various people out along the way. As such we have these series of episodes starting with Ernest trying his hand at being a door to door salesman and that leads to him meeting Frances who he falls for. There are other episodes as well with Ernest trying his hand at being a chauffeur and dealing with a boss with a penchant for sacking people. None of these episodes, which include one with a low life money lender, have any real depth but each one delivers what you expect which is Ernest learning something and then helping someone.
Now whilst the simple heart warming storyline is a big reason why "The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss" works it is also because it features Cary Grant who wonderfully turns on the charm. In fairness it is nothing new when it comes to Cary Grant but it is that charm, that easy going manner and acts of being gentlemanly which helps raise this simple movie into being a pleasant surprise. As for the rest of the cast well to be honest they are quite forgettable although Mary Brian is pleasant as Frances.
Now I mentioned that "The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss" is just 61 minutes long and that is the version which you will most likely find in the public domain where you can watch for free. But there is an 80 minutes version which was made for UK audiences whilst the 61 minute version was for US audiences. I don't know what are in those extra 20 minutes but I would hazard a guess that what was removed was scenes which made it flow in order to make it faster paced in the shorter version.
What this all boils down to is that "The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss" is a little gem from Cary Grant which is available free to watch in the public domain. At just 61 minutes it is not long but it is 61 minutes of simple heart warming entertainment.
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