Hotel manicurist Regi Allen is a cynical golddigger who meets her match in Theodore 'Ted' Drew III. After a date with Ted, she lets him sleep on her couch when he's too drunk to go further; but what is she to think when he wants to extend the arrangement? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
[Ted suggests temporarily becoming Regi's platonic roommate]
Well, I'm not *that* unconventional.
Aw, don't be old-fashioned. What are conventions anyway? Just a bunch of salesmen sitting around and telling stories.
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HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (Mitchell Leisen, 1935) ***
Carole Lombard was one of Hollywood's finest comediennes; she worked best when she was backed by an equally strong male lead in this case, it's Fred MacMurray, with whom she must have clicked because they appeared together three more times (two of these films, THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS  and TRUE CONFESSION , are also included in Universal's 2-Disc Lombard collection and I should get to them in the next couple of days).
The comic style of the film falls somewhere between sophisticated and screwball: lavish settings and stuffy aristocratic characters are mingled with the often zany working-class (keeping their chin up during the Depression but, in Lombard's case, harboring a desire to marry into money); the title refers to her job as a manicurist. Typically for this type of film, when she sets her eyes on a gentleman of title who's young and handsome to boot (MacMurray) he turns out to be engaged to an even wealthier lady (Astrid Allwyn), because he's himself penniless! Running after her (the term is put lightly here, since he's actually wheelchair-bound) is an ex-air ace played by the actor who cornered the market around this time in "Other Man" roles, Ralph Bellamy, who's naturally got a lot of money and thinks of Lombard as a perfect match but his love goes unrequited.
The mixture includes slapstick, wisecracks, romance, drama and even a bit of sentimentality (Lombard spends a good part of the last act sobbing). Still, as always in these more innocent times (where, for instance, a woman has to turn around when the man she's living with albeit platonically, for the moment is about to wear his pants!), none of the characters are really unsympathetic so that we don't even despise the jilted lovers, who are understanding enough to know when to give up. The ending of the film is a classic: Lombard and MacMurray cause a traffic jam to look for a missing penny on which they've staked the course of their future! Appearing in one scene as a prospective boyfriend of Lombard's (whom MacMurray scares away) is future Preston Sturges regular William Demarest.
The film was shown in the early 1990s on late-night Italian TV in its original language with forced Italian subtitles, but I had missed it (the same thing is true for the afore-mentioned THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS and MacMurray's other film with Leisen TAKE A LETTER, DARLING ); I did, however, acquire some of the director's other great work this way most of which is, regrettably, still unavailable on DVD...
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