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Hard to Get (1938)

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When spoiled young heiress Maggie Richards tries to charge some gasoline at an auto camp run by Bill Davis, he makes her work out her bill by making beds. Resolving to get even, she ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play), 4 more credits »
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Title: Hard to Get (1938)

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Complete credited cast:
Margaret (as Olivia De Havilland)
Charles Winninger ...
Ben Richards
Melville Cooper ...
Mrs. Richards
Grady Sutton ...
Stanley Potter
Thurston Hall ...
John Ridgely ...
Penny Singleton ...
Granville Bates ...
Judge Harkness
Jack Mower ...


When spoiled young heiress Maggie Richards tries to charge some gasoline at an auto camp run by Bill Davis, he makes her work out her bill by making beds. Resolving to get even, she pretends to have forgiven him, and sends him to her father to get financing for a plan Bill has. What happens next was not part of her original revenge plan. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 November 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Difícil de Apanhar  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Herbert Ashley (Waiter) and Cliff Saum (Rivet Thrower) are listed as actors with those character names by some sources, but they were not seen in the print. See more »


When Bill is forcibly carrying Margaret from her car after she can't pay for the gas, just after they pass the pumps the shadow of the boom microphone can be seen following them on the ground. See more »


Margaret Richards: May I have your hat sir?
Bill Davis: Yeah. Say, take it easy, its the only one I got.
Margaret Richards: I'll put it in the safe.
See more »


References The Singing Fool (1928) See more »


There's a Sunny Side to Every Situation
(1938) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung a cappella by Dick Powell
Played as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

Delightful screwball comedy starring the young Olivia de Havilland
18 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is one of those films from the thirties where no effort is made to have a realistic story or characters, and where the purpose is purely fun. The film is highly amusing, although it has its corny moments. This is a rare glimpse of Olivia de Havilland as she was before GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) changed her career in the following year. Her co-star here is Dick Powell. A very bad makeup person has made Dick Powell all but unrecognisable by excessive makeup round his eyes, and has done no favours for Miss de Havilland either, as she is also made to look somewhat artificial, despite her costumes working very well and showing inspired touches. As is only to be expected, both stars excel in this romantic comedy and spark off each other nicely. The film also contains a wonderful performance by the British actor Melville Cooper as a droll butler, not unlike Jeeves (and probably modelled on him), who is even allowed the last word at the end. Charlie Winniger also gives one of his very good performances (for he could be a bit uneven and 'required direction') as Miss de Havilland's eccentric father. A famous song by Johnny Mercer was written specially for this film, 'You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby' ('… cause, baby, you're beautiful now.') The film also features an amazing scene where Dick Powell in blackface does a marvellous imitation of Al Jolson singing 'Sonny Boy'. This film was certainly unconstrained in its casting about for new ways to laugh. Dick Powell also disguises himself as a woman scrubbing a floor in an office building, descends on a rope down the side of a New York skyscraper to enter an office window, and other antics. At one point Winniger is taken to the top of a skyscraper riding on a steel beam, as 'the elevators are not installed yet'. He holds a business meeting several hundred feet up, balancing on the beams, while Powell inserts rivets. Any wild situation will do for this story! At one point, the action is suddenly interrupted and we cut to Miss de Havilland and Powell sitting in a row-boat together at night, rowing across a lake in Central Park and falling in love. Some linking scenes must have been cut to get them there, but no one seems to mind the lack of continuity. Anything goes! Miss de Havilland starts as a rich spoilt brat who screams when she does not get her way. She falls out with Dick Powell, who works in a garage, over a bill for $3.48. Powell refuses her credit, and says if she were to fail to pay, he would 'not be able to afford lunch for a week'. That says a great deal about the value of money in 1938, if you could eat lunch for a week on $3.48. Miss de Havilland later falls in love with Powell, in a shockingly short period of time and with a lack of motivating circumstances. But she manages to switch from being a fiery-eyed bitch, passing through a phase of being a cunning schemer seeking vengeance, to a doe-eyed and love-struck maiden, with all the ease of an Olympic pentathlete who can do anything and who changes sports without noticing that he has stopped running 100 metres and is now throwing the javelin (or in this case, Cupid's dart). The film was directed by Ray Enright, who started as a gag writer for Mack Sennett, became an editor, and worked his way up to director. He never entered the top ranks but made lots of movies, retiring in 1956. If you want to have some laughs and be entertained, and do not mind films from the thirties, this will do nicely.

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