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HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE(director: Mitchell Leisen; screenwriters: story “bracelets by Viña Delmar/Norman Krasna/Vincent Lawrence/Herbert Fields; cinematographer: Ted Tetzlaff; editor: William Shea; music: Sam Coslow/Jean Delettre; cast: Carole Lombard (Regi Allen), Fred MacMurray (Theodore Drew III), Ralph Bellamy (Allen Macklyn), Astrid Allwyn (Vivian Snowden), Ruth Donnelly (Laura), Marie Prevost (Nona), Joseph R. Tozer (Peter), William Demarest (Natty), Edward Gargan (Pinky Kelly); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: E. Lloyd Sheldon; Paramount/Universal Home Video; 1935)
“… never that funny or intelligent as it appears to be at first glance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mitchell Leisen’s (“Suddenly It’s Spring”/”Swing High, Swing Low”/”Easy Living”) sophisticated screwball comedy is never that funny or intelligent as it appears to be at first glance. The story of love trumping money in the romance department is as old as the Hollywood Hills, and something Hollywood has down pat in its formula. Though there’s some deft touches here and there (ex; that scene where William Demerest runs out of Carole Lombard’s apartment when told by Fred MacMurray that’s his wife he’s dating), otherwise the pic marches to the same old tune. It’s based on the story “Bracelets” by Vina Delmar; it’s written by Norman Krasna, Vincent Lawrence and Herbert Fields.

The snappy romance tale has cynical NYC subway riding Regi Allen (Carole Lombard), a manicurist in the upscale midtown Savoy-Carleton Hotel barbershop, telling her numerologist best friend and coworker Nona (Marie Prevost) she’s tired of not having money and wants to marry a rich guy. Regi becomes close friends with her nice guy best client Allen Macklyn (Ralph Bellamy), a former aviator who is a wealthy wheelchair-bound paraplegic itching to marry the honey pot even though he knows she’s a gold-digger and he’s a bore. Residing in the same hotel is the handsome idler playboy Theodore Drew III (Fred MacMurray), the impoverished son of a family who lost their fortune during the 1929 stock crash. He’s also a fortune-hunter who is engaged to Vivian Snowden (Astrid Allwyn), the daughter of the “pineapple king.” The two gold-diggers bump into each other while the nutty Ted is hopscotching in the hotel corridor; when he gets a manicure, he asks her out on a date. They dine while Regi has the hiccups (the comedy was antique). After an evening of drinking, Ted’s unable to awaken from a drunken slumber and ends up spending the night sleeping on the couch in her apartment and thereby misses his boat for Bermuda to attend the wedding. Ted is unable to fool Vivian with a call from New York whereby Regi plays the giggling long-distance operator who says he’s in Bermuda. Thereby Vivian has private detectives track down that Ted is staying with Regi, and after Vivian visits the poor gal in the barbershop decides to forgive Ted for his misstep. While this nonsense is going on the sober-minded Allen has plans to ask Regi to marry him when he gets his usual manicure in his room, but before he asks Ted bursts in and proposes to Regi. The two fortune-hunters decide to marry for love after all, and a flip of the coin decides that Ted will get a regular job.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”