The Hard Way (1943)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Musical, Romance  |  20 February 1943 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 722 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 4 critic

Embittered, ambitious Helen Sherman sees an opportunity to escape her drab small-town life by becoming a 'stage mother' to her musically-talented younger sister.



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From Arnold Bennett's novel "Buried Alive". An artist returning from years abroad takes the identity of his dead valet to escape the attentions of the press.

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Complete credited cast:
Paul Collins
Katherine 'Katie' Blaine
Albert Runkel
Lily Emery
Ice Cream Parlor Waitress
John 'Jack' Shagrue


Ambitious Helen Chernin (Ida Lupino) pushes her talented younger sister Katherine (Joan Leslie) into marriage with broken down song-and-dance man Albert Runkel (Jack Carson) so that the two women can leave the dirty steel town where they live. Runkel's partner Paul Collins (Dennis Morgan), however, sees through Helen's plan. Helen continues driving her sister's career and eventually Katherine becomes a star on Broadway, while Runkel and Collins' act flounders. Success soon goes to Katherine's head and she becomes a fast-living party girl. Time passes and Helen and Katherine run into Paul, now a successful band leader. He and Katherine soon fall in love. The two sisters eventually have a showdown on opening night of Katherine's latest show when Katherine discovers that Helen is also in love with Paul. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sister LOVE...and HATE! See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 February 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A nehéz út  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Actor Bill Kennedy, who was the voice of the radio announcer in this film, became the host of his own movie show in the mid-to-late 1960's in the Detroit area, first on CKLW-TV (now CBET), Channel 9, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and then from the early 1970's to his retirement in the mid-1980's on WKBD-TV, Channel 50, in Detroit. Kennedy, who was under contract to Warner Bros. in the 1940's as a bit player, often ran old Warner Bros. films on his afternoon movie show; "The Hard Way" was indeed one of them. (Kennedy passed away in 1996.) See more »


Near the end of the film Dennis Morgan takes a seat to see Joan Leslie's play. He is seated next to a young woman. The next time the camera cuts to him he is in the same seat, but sitting next to an older woman wearing completely different clothing. See more »


Paul Collins: I've got a date tonight with a lady, a genuine lady.
Mrs. Helen Chernen: [Nastly] That'll be a novelty.
See more »


With Plenty of Money and You
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by a chorus in a show during a montage
See more »

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User Reviews

Superb Acting Better than Script!!
10 March 2005 | by (Brooklyn, New York) – See all my reviews

Rarely seen these days, and unavailable on tape, THE HARD WAY is a melodramatic gem, vaulted by five strong performances. True, the beginning looks as if we are going to watch 'Mildred Pierce', and, true, the ending is totally false if you know anything about the theater at all. Despite the script's weaknesses, this is a film to see, and I am glad that I have been able to obtain a copy. Ida Lupino is excellent as the grasping, obsessive, manipulative elder sister who pushes her younger sibling into show biz prominence. Lupino won the N.Y. Film Critics' honors but, surprisingly, was not nominated for an Oscar. It is a strong performance that, perhaps, needs a little shading here and there. Joan Leslie has an even more demanding role, however, in that her personality and growth is altered throughout the film. She is exquisite even though, as it often was in films of the 40's, the show-within-a-show sequences really are weak. Leslie's career ended because she was essentially blacklisted after she sued to get out of her Warner Bros. contract. (She had been considered to be the lead in 'The Constant Nymph' so some saw her emerging talents!). Jack Carson is remarkable, as he would be later in such films as 'The Tattered Dress'; Dennis Morgan gives his best acting work; and Gladys George, in a cameo, is wonderful even though it is evident the character is out-of-focus in terms of the way in which Broadway works (she never would have been given just one song in a revue). Vincent Sherman's direction is uniformly good in that it often leaps over plot contrivances and zeroes in on the performances. Leslie's acting abilities would be wasted until she free-lanced in REPEAT PERFORMANCE, BORN TO BE BAD (a better look at Broadway), and others. THE HARD WAY remains a forgotten and generally fine film.

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