Hands Across the Table
Action / Comedy / Romance
Hands Across the Table
Action / Comedy / Romance
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Hotel manicurist Regi Allen is a cynical golddigger who meets her match in Theodore 'Ted' Drew III. After a date with Ted, she lets him sleep on her couch when he's too drunk to go further; but what is she to think when he wants to extend the arrangement? —Rod Crawford.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Aug 15, 2021 at 05:00 PM
grade Movie Reviews
HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (Mitchell Leisen, 1935) ***
Carole Lombard was one of Hollywood's finest comediennes; she worked best when she was backed by an equally strong male lead in this case, it's Fred MacMurray, with whom she must have clicked because they appeared together three more times (two of these films, THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS  and TRUE CONFESSION , are also included in Universal's 2-Disc Lombard collection and I should get to them in the next couple of days).The comic style of the film falls somewhere between sophisticated and screwball: lavish settings and stuffy aristocratic characters are mingled with the often zany working-class (keeping their chin up during the Depression but, in Lombard's case, harboring a desire to marry into money); the title refers to her job as a manicurist. Typically for this type of film, when she sets her eyes on a gentleman of title who's young and handsome to boot (MacMurray) he turns out to be engaged to an even wealthier lady (Astrid Allwyn), because he's himself penniless! Running after her (the term is put lightly here, since he's actually wheelchair-bound) is an ex-air ace played by the actor who cornered the market around this time in "Other Man" roles, Ralph Bellamy, who's naturally got a lot of money and thinks of Lombard as a perfect match but his love goes unrequited.The mixture includes slapstick, wisecracks, romance, drama and even a bit of sentimentality (Lombard spends a good part of the last act sobbing). Still, as always in these more innocent times (where, for instance, a woman has to turn around when the man she's living with albeit platonically, for the moment is about to wear his pants!), none of the characters are really unsympathetic so that we don't even despise the jilted lovers, who are understanding enough to know when to give up. The ending of the film is a classic: Lombard and MacMurray cause a traffic jam to look for a missing penny on which they've staked the course of their future! Appearing in one scene as a prospective boyfriend of Lombard's (whom MacMurray scares away) is future Preston Sturges regular William Demarest.The film was shown in the early 1990s on late-night Italian TV in its original language with forced Italian subtitles, but I had missed it (the same thing is true for the afore-mentioned THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS and MacMurray's other film with Leisen TAKE A LETTER, DARLING ); I did, however, acquire some of the director's other great work this way most of which is, regrettably, still unavailable on DVD...
MacMurray Steals the Show!
Fred MacMurray's line readings here are simply impeccable--on par with, oh, say, Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. Another not wholly sympathetic leading role in a comedy. Unfortunately, the movie ends up being kind of muddle-headed toward the end. Still, the chemistry between the two stars is fully evident, and I like that the movie doesn't crassly gloss over the Bellamy character's hurt and resentment. It gives the movie body. The domestic scenes between Lombard and MacMurray are particular good--sort of a warm-up, too, for what Liesen does with Jean Arthur and Ray Milland in their glorious cohabitation scenes at the Hotel Louie in Liesen's Easy Living. Liesen is an unfairly forgotten director of romantic comedies. Besides this one, and Easy Living, check out also Remember the Night and Midnight.
Carole Lombard charms us again
How can anyone not appreciate how charming Carole Lombard can be in one of these types of roles? She is so funny and so endearing. She seems so simple and simple-minded, but ends up being much more complex than she is allowed to admit. Her costumes were well-done and very complimentary.Fred MacMurray sparkles in this role, as well. Both of them will make you laugh as they hang out with each other and try not to fall in love. There is definitely chemistry there between Fred and Carole. Fred's early film roles are often completely forgotten nowadays. Ralph Bellamy is equally funny in his role as the "crippled" rich man looking for companionship.My favorite scene is where Carole's character starts crying uncontrollably and Bellamy's character tells her to stop crying. She responds, "I've a right to cry if I want to. I've got a good cry coming to me." I almost fell over laughing. Lighthearted fun that is not to be missed.
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