Sunday, May 02, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Hands Across the Table (1935) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Since its release last month I've zipped through the Carole Lombard Collection II from Kino Lorber!

I previously reviewed LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST (1936), costarring Preston Foster, and THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS (1936), in which she stars with Fred MacMurray.

Lombard and MacMurray also star in the third film in the set, HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (1935). I previously reviewed it here in 2007 and returned to it this weekend thanks to the new Blu-ray.

Lombard and MacMurray have impressive chemistry in HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE. She plays Regi, a hardworking manicurist who thinks meeting wealthy Ted Drew III (MacMurray) might be the answer to her dreams when he asks her out on a date.

Then, in short succession, she learns that Ted is engaged to a wealthy woman (Astrid Allwyn)...and also that he's broke. Seems the stockmarket crash wiped out the family fortune. So much for her dreams of marrying an attractive, wealthy man and leaving the manicure business behind.

Circumstances lead Regi and Ted to spend a weekend together at her apartment, and their chemistry is so explosive that Ted is ready to ditch his marriage plans and marry Regi, but she believes he'd eventually resent having given up a life of financial ease and turns him down.

And besides, she's been spending a lot of time with the very kind and wealthy Allen Macklyn (Ralph Bellamy), who just might propose...

This is a very good 80-minute film, an interesting blend of darkness and light. Bellamy is absolutely charming as Regi's other suitor, to the extent one really wishes he had his own happy ending. And the sparks between MacMurray and Lombard absolutely sizzle.

On the other hand, as I noted in my original review, the film gets pretty edgy at times, such as in a scene where Ted and Regi scare off an unwanted date by pretending he's beating her. The duo can also be overly childish, with Regi pretending to be a phone operator while Ted phones his fiancee from "Bermuda," where he's supposed to be -- rather than in Regi's apartment. But they revel in sharing these escapades, which is one reason they seem right for one another.

In the end, Ted undergoes some nice character evolution, and as one would expect in a '30s romantic comedy, all's well that ends well. The film leaves the viewer smiling.

This Paramount Pictures film, directed by Mitchell Leisen and filmed in black and white by Ted Tetzlaff, has a beautiful look, from the sets to the costumes to the stars themselves. MacMurray surely never looked hotter on film than he does in the late-night scenes in this one! And Lombard in closeup is a thing of beauty.

The supporting cast includes the always-welcome Ruth Donnelly, along with Marie Prevost, William Demarest, and Murray Alper.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray, like the other films in the set, is a lovely print with excellent sound.

The disc includes a commentary track by Allan Arkush and Daniel Kremer. There are also three trailers on the Blu-ray for other films available from Kino Lorber.

I very much enjoyed revisiting all three films in this set for the first time in a number of years. A recommended collection.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


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