One of the great pleasures of movie viewing is that you never know when you're going to stumble across an unexpected treasure. Such a find was HIDE-OUT, a charming film about a dissolute nightclub playboy with mob ties who finds love and a new life while on a forced "sabbatical" in the country.
Robert Montgomery is terrific as the playboy, Lucky Wilson. Montgomery gives a nuanced performance as he gradually reveals the good man hiding inside the fast-living playboy. Maureen O'Sullivan is lovely as always as Pauline, the farmer's daughter who captures Lucky's heart. Over a decade later, a similar plot was the basis for one of John Wayne's best movies, ANGEL AND THE BADMAN, and the story works equally wonderfully here.
Pauline's family members are played by Whitford Kane (from Ireland's Abbey Players), Elizabeth Patterson, and a young Mickey Rooney. Edward Arnold and Edward Brophy are the cops on Lucky's tail, and Arnold in particular helps end the film on a high note.
The New York Times review of 1934 is worth a read: "There are many splendid scenes...and the story is told with a pleasing naturalness and a certain subtlety. The dialogue is smartly written and the performances of the supporting cast are never disappointing."
HIDE-OUT was filmed in black and white and runs 81 minutes. It was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, director of many other wonderful MGM movies, including THE THIN MAN.
Mauri Grashin was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Story for HIDE-OUT. The witty screenplay was written by the great writing duo of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, who teamed on everything from THE THIN MAN to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE to SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS to THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. They did a wonderful job on HIDE-OUT, briskly telling the story with an appealing combination of humor and poignance. The Hacketts' own story is told in the dual biography THE REAL NICK AND NORA, which I enjoyed reading a few years ago.
I've been developing an appreciation for Robert Montgomery; I very much enjoyed him recently in FAST AND LOOSE, and I've seen him over the years in classic films such as HERE COMES MR. JORDAN and THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. The Earl of Hollywood is a very nice website which pays tribute to Montogmery. The site includes a few photos from HIDE-OUT. There is also a biographical page detailing Montgomery's many achievements, including his wartime service, Presidency of the Screen Actors Guild, and work as a pioneering TV producer. And of course, Mr. Montgomery also had a lovely and talented daughter who is still beloved to millions for her role as Samantha Stephens on BEWITCHED.
Another site worth visiting is Classic Montgomery, which has many great photos, not only of Robert Montgomery, but of other actors of the era such as Robert Taylor and Robert Young.
HIDE-OUT is not available on DVD or VHS, but can be seen on cable on TCM, where it next airs on December 4, 2007. It's definitely worth setting your DVR or VCR for this one.
August 2009 Update: Here's a review of the 1941 remake, I'LL WAIT FOR YOU.