Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mickey Rooney had a farm

No "EIEIO", however: TCM is airing the 1934 movie Hide-Out at 7:00 AM ET on Monday, February 25. Robet Montgomery stars as Lucky Watson the head of a criminal ring who has to flee New York when the police start closing in on him. (No, this is nothing like Shadow of a Doubt.) While escaping, Lucky gets shot and wounded by the police, so his partners in crime take him to the country and drop him off at the nearest farm they can find so that he can recuperate. This family, the Millers in some ways a typical American family, with married parents and two kids -- a daughter and a son. The daughter, Pauline Miller, played by Maureen O'Sullivan (seen here with Robert Montgomery) is all grown up but not married, and is working as a teacher. You can guess what happens: she and Lucky fall in love as she nurses him back to health, and Lucky finds he's beginning to like the farm life. Unfortunately, however, the law eventually catches up to him, and Lucky has to figure out some way to go off with them and face his jail sentence, without letting on to Pauline what's really happening.

Where does Mickey Rooney fit into this? Well, he plays the other child, Willie Miller. He's mildly obnoxious here, but then, he was only 13 when the movie was made, and in many ways, his portrayal is not that far off from what a boy of his age would have been. The one scene where Rooney really gets to shine is one in which his prize rabbit is the family's dinner. Poor Mickey. But at least he's still working actively today, at the tender age of 87. Also to watch out for in the cast are Edward Arnold as the head detective chasing Montgomery, and veteran character actor Edward Brophy as Arnold's assistant.

Hide-Out is a really nice little movie, both as a romance, some as a comedy, and also with the drama that it has. And interestingly, unlike many Hollywood movies of the mid-1930s, Hide-Out seems quite kind in the way it treats rural America. In many movies of the day, farmers and small town America were either overly iconized, or else treated as stupid buffoons. In Hide-Out, however, the Millers are treated more as normal people, who just happen to be a farm family. And the movie is all the better for this.

Hide-Out runs a swift 81 minutes, and is a wonderful little movie. Unfortunately, it has not yet been released on DVD, so TCM's showings are the only chance you'll have to see the movie.

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