Review: ‘Hard to Handle’

Plot [from a story by Houston Branch] trips a light fantastic over a series of gags and the gags account for most of the merit. Between the good ones, the yarn rushes James Cagney through some far-fetched situations.

Plot [from a story by Houston Branch] trips a light fantastic over a series of gags and the gags account for most of the merit. Between the good ones, the yarn rushes James Cagney through some far-fetched situations.

As a sort of safety net to catch any laughs the star might miss, story includes a comedy mother-in-law, played by Ruth Donnelly. For the first half-hour or so Donnelly runs away with the picture, after which the role is softened up by repetition.

Cagney is a press agent in this one, beginning with a dance marathon, and then starting from scratch all over again when his partner kidnaps the gross. That happens in California. When reaching New York, Cagney high-pressures his way into the money, putting over a college, a reducing cream and Florida grapefruit farmland among other projects.

Stage-mother stuff sustains the romance background while Cagney is space-grabbing on the side.

While his material isn’t up to average, Cagney’s playing is as usual and as effective in its way as always.

Hard to Handle

Production

Warner. Dir Mervyn LeRoy; Producer Robert Lord; Screenplay Wilson Mizner, Robert Lord; Camera Barney McGill; Editor William Holmes; Music Leo Forbstein (dir.) Art Dir Robert M. Haas

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1933. Running time: 71 MIN.

With

James Cagney Mary Brian Ruth Donnelly Allen Jenkins Claire Dodd Gavin Gordon
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