HARD TO HANDLE is a fairly amusing James Cagney pre-Code which is part of the Warner Archive's Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 5 DVD collection.
Cagney plays Myron "Lefty" Merrill, who's always hatching a plot to make money. He meets Ruth (Mary Brian) when she wins a dance contest he sponsors -- but his partner skips out with the grand prize money.
Despite that little problem, sparks fly between Ruth and Lefty, to the horror of Ruth's mercenary mother, Lil (Ruth Donnelly), who wants pretty Ruth to marry someone with lots of money.
Cagney is his usual energetic self as a go-getter always looking for the next big money-making idea. Mary Brian, of BLESSED EVENT (1932) and GIRL MISSING (1933), does a nice job as Cagney's sweetheart.
Allen Jenkins is one of the film's top-billed actors, but he's only in one sequence, as the radio announcer for the dance contest which opens the movie. Sterling Holloway is one of the dance contestants. Claire Dodd plays her typical role as the "bad girl" other woman with verve.
I was puzzled by an actor who looked a lot like Frank McHugh but clearly wasn't him; the mystery was solved when I learned it was McHugh's brother, Matt!
Fans of Cagney's THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931) will appreciate the joke that one of his get-rich-quick schemes in HARD TO HANDLE is called "Grapefruit Acres."
Early on in the film, when Lefty comes up with a promotional treasure hunt scheme for a seaside amusement park, I recognized Pacific Ocean Park, which can also be seen in GUN CRAZY (1950) and MAN IN THE DARK (1953).
HARD TO HANDLE was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and filmed by Barney McGill. It runs 78 minutes.
Previously reviewed films from the Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 5 Collection: MISS PINKERTON (1932) and LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1933).