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Riffraff (1936)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  3 January 1936 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 582 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 4 critic

Fisherman Dutch marries cannery worker Hattie. He quits his poorly paid job to concentrate on getting better working conditions as union leader. Unfortunately, the union members disagree ... See full summary »

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(screen play), (screen play), 5 more credits »
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Title: Riffraff (1936)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Dutch Muller
Una Merkel ...
Lil
...
Nick Lewis
Victor Kilian ...
'Flytrap'
...
Jimmy
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
'Brains' McCall
Roger Imhof ...
'Pops'
Juanita Quigley ...
Rosie
Paul Hurst ...
Belcher
Vince Barnett ...
Lew
Dorothy Appleby ...
Gertie
Judith Wood ...
Mabel
Arthur Housman ...
'Ratsy'
Wade Boteler ...
Bert
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Storyline

Fisherman Dutch marries cannery worker Hattie. He quits his poorly paid job to concentrate on getting better working conditions as union leader. Unfortunately, the union members disagree with Dutch's ideas and kick him out. Without a job or union card to get another he leaves Hattie to look for work. Hattiee steals money to help him when she learns he is really down on his luck and she goes to jail. He gets a new job, foils a plot to dynamite the ship, and promises to wait for Hattie. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When a red-headed woman meets a red-headed man!

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 January 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flor de arrabal  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

News items and production charts included Lee Phelps (Sailor), Nick Thompson (Ptomaine Tony), Paul Porcasi and Dorothy Gray in the cast, but these actors were not seen in the viewed print. See more »

Goofs

During the prison escape when Harlow and friend hop into the getaway car, the seat backs are already wet before the two drenched escapees get into the auto. Obviously this was a second or third take of this scene. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Jean Harlow (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Harlow Strut
(uncredited)
Music by Wayne Allen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Strange name for a strange little film...
7 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...but I guess the title "Riffraff" would do as well as anything else MGM could have come up with - but it's not very descriptive. Hattie (Jean Harlow) is a cannery worker in love with Dutch (Spencer Tracy), a very good fisherman and also a tremendous blow-hard. He fancies himself the leader of some future workers' revolution. Hattie lives with her extended family including sister Lil (Una Merkel) and Lil's husband and two kids, with the son being played by a mischievous Mickey Rooney. Dutch doesn't treat Hattie very well - they spend most of their time arguing, and to complicate matters she has caught the eye of wharf boss Nick (Joseph Calleia).

However, between arguments, Dutch and Hattie do manage to get married. Some have asked whatever Hattie saw in a selfish windbag like Dutch, but if a coherent 500 word essay was a prerequisite for love it would be the end of the human race, and I have seen odder pairings in real life that worked. They are married only a few months when Dutch decides he was meant for bigger and better things, and he tells Hattie he is leaving her - for awhile - to find his destiny. She understandably doesn't take this well, and he gets the last word in by saying that it's goodbye for keeps. Thus begins the long melodrama of these two apart as Dutch's plans don't exactly work out as he figured and an impulsive act by Hattie meant to aid Dutch in a time of trouble and that act's repercussions show Dutch how selfish he has been and how much she really means to him.

In spite of the melodrama, there really are no bad guys here. Even lecherous Nick is likable in his own way, and his conversations with his lawyer are particularly humorous. Thus this film is pure Depression-era entertainment in the MGM tradition. It has many of the familiar building blocks of 30's MGM dramas, but they are assembled in a rather quirky way such that this is nothing that will change the world, but it's still very interesting. The cast is outstanding with good performances by all. Especially notable is Una Merkel's performance as loyal sister Lil who manages to be simultaneously feisty and frumpy.


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