Hard To Handle

1933, Movie, NR, 71 mins

Review

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A breakneck pace and Cagney's rat-a-tat performance are what elevate this minor trifle to heights it shouldn't have achieved. Twenty-eight years later, Cagney was to prove he hadn't run out of steam, when he played an equally frenetic role in ONE, TWO, THREE for Billy Wilder. Cagney is a quick-witted hustler who promotes various items from fad diets to reducing lotions to marathon dances, a female college, a treasure hunt, and a grapefruit association (no doubt this was an inside joke, for it was Cagney who electrified audiences when he smashed a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face in 1931's PUBLIC ENEMY). Donnelly's daughter, Brian, is in a marathon dance contest, and when her feet give out, Donnelly attempts to masquerade as her own daughter and continue the dancing in order to win the big money prize. The only problem is that when Cagney's partner turns out with the money, Donnelly prevails on the promoter to marry the daughter. Which he does. The screenplay was silly, and LeRoy's frantic direction just a tad too spirited. It was Cagney all the way in a rip-roaring role that barely allowed audiences to breathe before the next punch line tumbled from his lips. This was the first of five films he made in 1933 (the others were PICTURE SNATCHER, THE MAYOR OF HELL, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, and LADY KILLER), a far cry from the greedy stars of today who make one film every couple of years and take down millions. Cagney was like many British actors, who feel that their work is what counts, not how much money they take in. That's why one can still go to London and see some of the greatest actors on the stage, at low prices, just so they can continue to perfect their artistry. leave a comment

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Hard To Handle
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