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Small time con artist Lefty Merrill has co-organized a crooked dance marathon and set-up his girlfriend to win the prize money. When his partner disappears with money before the contest is over, he's forced to come up with a series of cons to help pay it back. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The uncredited character "Ralph Blackman - band leader" is a parody of the famous bandleader Paul Whiteman. See more »
At the end of the dance marathon Lefty says that the prize money (10 $100 bills) is fresh from the US Mint. The US Mint produces coins. Paper money is produced by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. See more »
Hard to Handle has James Cagney dusting off his role as con man that he debuted with in Blonde Crazy. That film was a bit more serious and had the virtue of Joan Blondell.
Here the Blondell role is split in two and Cagney deals with a mother/ daughter duo of Ruth Donnelly and Mary Brian. Like Blondell, Donnelly gives as good as she gets from Cagney.
Donnelly and Cagney were roughly the same age and Brian was about six years younger than Cagney. Ridiculous now when you think about Donnelly and Brian being mother and daughter. No film maker could get away with that casting now.
There's no real story to this film, Cagney moves from one con to another, skirting ever so close to illegality. Donnelly and Brian are alternately for and against him and not at the same time either at certain points.
It's a film that relies solely on the charm of Jimmy Cagney which is considerable. And it's the stuff Cagney was disputing with Jack Warner over.
His last con involved the marketing of grapefruit, from the man who made grapefruit tossing a national past time at breakfast/
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