Monday, January 25, 2010

Ms. Lombard Does Your Nails

This week's movie is Hands Across the Table, with Carole Lombard playing Regina "Regi" Allen, a manicurist who longs to marry up.  When she meets Theodore Drew III (Fred MacMurray) she thinks she has found the love of her life - he is funny, he is from an old family, she is instantly attracted to him. Only problem is, he has no money, no job, and no inclination to work.  Oh, and he also is planning to marry up - and in fact has found his "dream girl" - the wealthy Vivian Snowden (played by Astrid Allwyn).  When Ted gets drunk on a date with Regi, he misses a cruise ship to Bermuda. With no money, and unable to go home - since he is living with his finance's family, and they were the one's who sent him away - he rooms with Regi while he waits for his wedding day.

We were intrigued by this look into the past - a world were MEN are the ones getting the manicures, not women! It's pretty clear that Regi is working as a manicurist so that she will meet wealthy men.  And while we see several male clients in the shop (and on Regi's client list), we only see one woman (and she doesn't want a manicure). And while men still do get manicures, how many men do you see as you walk by the nail salon in your neighborhood?

Fred MacMurray is always an interesting actor to watch.  His career has been so varied, it is nice to be able to discuss him within the context of his entire body of work.  His early work (like this film) generally cast him as the romantic hero; sometimes serious (as in Alice Adams), sometimes goofy (like here). But then he segwayed into slick villain roles (like The Caine Mutiny and The Apartment). And finally, becoming the family's favorite father in a string of Disney movies and the long-running TV series My Three Sons. An amazing amount of excellent work, and a tribute to his versatility an actor! 

We have another male lead - Ralph Bellamy as Allen Macklyn, a flyer crippled in an accident.  The film opens with him hiring Regi to relieve his boredom and misery.  Regi brings a joy to his life that he has not known since his accident. And while Regi wants to marry a rich man, and Allen is QUITE wealthy, it never seems to occur to her that she should be pursuing Allen - who has become her best friend and confidante.  There's is a lovely relationship, and we quite liked Allen.  We wanted Allen to have a happy ending too, and we were mentally writing the sequel where Regi and Ted find a girl for Allen!

And finally, there is the every glorious Ms. Lombard.  There is no way you can dislike Regi. She is honest in her pursuit of a wealthy man, and she seems to want to love whomever she finds. Ultimately, love triumphs for our pair of opportunists.  And Ted WILL be learning to work for a living!  Here's a scene from the beginning of the film:


Next week, join us for Love Before Breakfast.