Friday, September 15, 2017

Hands Across the Table

TCM is running a night of Carole Lombard movies tonight, so I made a special point of watching Hands Across the Table off my cheap Lombard box set since that movie kicks off the night at 8:00 PM.

Lombard plyas Reggie Allen, a working girl working a humdrum life as a manicurist. (To be honest, I wonder how humdrum it could really be considering the size of her apartment.) The shop she works in is on the ground floor of a hotel, so all sorts of rich men come to the place and get a manicure as part of their routine. Among them is Allen Macklyn (Ralph Bellamy), a pilot. Well, ex-pilot, since he had a crash and is aralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair. Reggie goes up to his suite and does his nails, and finds him to be a nice guy. Marriage material? Well, it is Ralph Bellamy. This even though Reggie is open about the fact that she only plans to marry for money. Allen likes this honesty to the fact that he falls in love with Reggie.

On the way out Allen's suite one day, she runs into Ted Drew III (Fred MacMurray). He's acting like a spoiled rich playboy, and Reggie doesn't like him one bit because he says nothing in that first meeting to indicate that he's rich. And then he calls for an appointment, specifically looking for Reggie since he's obviously fallen in love with her. Reggie doesn't like him -- until she finds out that he's from a rich family. Obviously she can learn to like him in that case.

So Reggie and Ted go out for a night on the town, in which Ted gets drunk to the point of passing out and misses his boat to Bermuda. You see, he was supposed to go away for a couple of weeks because his fiancée's family is redoing the house. Oh yeah, and he has a fiancée. But he doesn't even have cab fare to get back to a hotel, so he spends the night at Reggie's place.

It turns out that Ted isn't rich at all. His family was at one time, but the lost it in the crash of 1929. Ted isn't even suited to holding any sort of job, which makes you wonder how he got along for the previous five years since the movie was released in 1935. But Ted is clearly in love with Reggie to the point that he'd think about getting an honest job, while Reggie has conflicted feelings about Ted. And of course there's poor Allen back at the hotel; you know he's not getting the girl at the end. Predictable consequences ensue.

Hands Across the Table is formulaic and certainly not bad, but it's also a movie that I had some problems with. The big one is that Ted's character is written to be such a jerk that it's difficult to figure out why Reggie would fall in love with him. There are also various minor plot holes that it should be easy enough to suspend disbelief over (such as the previously mentioned size of her apartment), although there were enough of them that I kept noticing them. Still, Lombard gives a profeesional role, while a young MacMurray does just fine. Poor Ralph Bellamy is given yet another thankless role but pulls it off.

The supporting cast has Marie Prevost as Reggie's annoying coworker who believes in numerology, and Ruth Donnelly as Reggie's boss who seems more interested in finding Reggie a husband than in whether Reggie does her job well. Astrid Allwyn plays the fiancée. All of them do well, even though Prevost, like Bellamy, is given some really thankless material.

Hands Across the Table was cheap for the price of the ultra-cheap box set I got, what with no extras and movies on both sides of the disks. But if you just want to see the movies, that's not a bad way to go.

No comments: