15 user 2 critic

A Successful Calamity (1932)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama | 17 September 1932 (USA)
Henry Wilton is an elderly millionaire saddled with his selfish young second wife Emmy 'Sweetie' Wilton and a pair of spoiled grown children (Peggy and Eddie). To test his family's mettle, ... See full summary »


John G. Adolfi


Clare Kummer (play), Maude T. Howell (adaptation) (as Maude Howell) | 2 more credits »


Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Successful wealthy shoe manufacturer John Reeves takes a vacation, leaving his business in the hands of his nephew. While on vacation Reeves runs into his rival's heirs, who are living it ... See full summary »

Director: John G. Adolfi
Stars: George Arliss, Bette Davis, Theodore Newton
Smart Woman (1931)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Wife turns tables on cheating hubby.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: Mary Astor, Robert Ames, John Halliday
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When Prohibition ends, a beer baron sees the writing on the wall, quits the rackets, and tries to break into California society.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Helen Vinson
So Big! (1932)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Following the death of Selena's father, she's offered a job as a teacher in a small town and a new chapter of her life begins.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Dickie Moore
Certificate: Passed Romance | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A wealthy business man, out of touch with real folks, decides to mingle and see what it is really all about.

Director: Edward Buzzell
Stars: Robert Young, Frank Morgan, Mary Astor
Downstairs (1932)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An amoral chauffeur seeks to seduce a young bride.

Director: Monta Bell
Stars: John Gilbert, Paul Lukas, Virginia Bruce
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Mary Linden is the secretary who is the unheralded power behind successful executive James Duneen. He takes her for granted until rival Wales tries to take her away from him.

Director: Melville W. Brown
Stars: Mary Astor, Robert Ames, Ricardo Cortez
Runaway Bride (1930)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

A young socialite and a rich playboy elope to Atlantic City. However, she soon realizes he's not the man she wants him to be and tries to call off the wedding. A jewelry store robbery, murder and other mayhem are soon involved.

Director: Donald Crisp
Stars: Mary Astor, Lloyd Hughes, Paul Hurst
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A womanizing singer falls for an old-fashioned Southern belle. The problem is, she already has a fiance.

Director: John M. Stahl
Stars: Paul Lukas, Sidney Fox, Lewis Stone
Musical | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Pennsylvania, 1859. Railroad tycoon Brennan (Alan Hale) is muscling in on oil-drilling farmers, led by Peter Cortland (Randolph Scott). Cortland must try to save their oil business, while also saving his marriage to Sally (Irene Dunne).

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott, Dorothy Lamour
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A working girl is menaced by her tyrannical employer.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Warren William, Loretta Young, Wallace Ford
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The City Editor of a sleazy tabloid goes against his own journalistic ethics to resurrect a twenty year old murder case... with tragic results.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Marian Marsh, H.B. Warner


Cast overview, first billed only:
George Arliss ... Henry Wilton
Mary Astor ... Emmy 'Sweetie' Wilton
Evalyn Knapp ... Peggy Wilton
Grant Mitchell ... Connors, Wilton's Butler
Hardie Albright ... George Struthers, Peggy's Beau
William Janney ... Eddie Wilton
David Torrence ... Partington
Randolph Scott ... Larry Rivers, the Polo Coach
Hale Hamilton ... John Belde -\sWilton's Business Associate
Fortunio Bonanova ... Pietro Rafaelo, the Pianist
Oscar Apfel ... President of the United States
Murray Kinnell ... Alfred Curtis, The Broker
Harold Minjir Harold Minjir ... Watson, Eddie's Valet (as Harold Minjur)
Barbara Leonard ... Pauline, The French Maid
Eula Guy Eula Guy ... Jane, the Cook's Helper


Henry Wilton is an elderly millionaire saddled with his selfish young second wife Emmy 'Sweetie' Wilton and a pair of spoiled grown children (Peggy and Eddie). To test his family's mettle, Henry pretends to have gone broke. Just as he suspected they would, his children rally to their father's side and change their ways: Peggy forsakes the fortune hunter George Struthers for the nice young man she's really in love with, the polo coach Larry Rivers; while Eddie applies for a demanding job and performs admirably. Only Sweetie seems to desert Henry. Written by Robert

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 September 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Successful Calamity See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The $3,000 Connors had saved up would equate to about $54,000 in 2019. See more »


Peggy Wilton: Dad, do you think I'm too old to go into the chorus? I mean, the Follies or something?
Eddie Wilton: No! I couldn't allow that. My sister - a *chorus* girl!
Peggy Wilton: Well, you told me that girl I saw you with last week was in the chorus. You said she was a nice girl.
Eddie Wilton: So she was; but, that's different.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Good early film on wealth and families
6 June 2014 | by SimonJackSee all my reviews

George Arliss was a senior stage and movie actor by the time sound came to motion pictures. But in "A Successful Calamity", he shows why he was one of the leading actors of his time that included the first three decades of filmdom. He still has a touch of the hammy in this film, where he seems to pan for the camera with subtle glances or short stops. Those were trademarks of silent films. Actors had to emote more in facial expressions and physical gestures to convey the scene's story sans sound. That was true also, though less obviously, for stage plays. But his panning in "A Successful Calamity" isn't so serious that it detracts from the film. Instead, we begin to see the great actor who was a master at conveying moods, thoughts, and feelings by his expressions and facial movements.

Arliss was British. He made most of his silent films in England, but most of his films with sound in Hollywood. In this film, Arliss plays a prominent financier, Henry Wilton. He has a fine supporting cast that includes Mary Astor as his young wife, Emmy "Sweetie," Evalyn Knapp as daughter Peggy, and William Janney as son Eddie. Some other actors – a young Randolph Scott as a polo coach, Grant Mitchell as Wilton's butler, and others add nice flavor to the film. But the heart of this movie is Wilton and his family.

The plot is very good. Arliss and Astor are excellent in their roles, but the acting of the youngsters in this film is pretty amateurish. The production qualities suffer some. Still, it's a good family story that should delight most movie buffs. To paraphrase Wilton in a scene toward the end, one never had so much fun as when one had so little to distract himself or herself from the important things in life. This is a nice film with a nice tale. Because Arliss was already a senior (age 64 in 1932) at the time of this film, he would only be in movies a few more years.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 15 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed