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The Hard Way (1943)

Approved | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 20 February 1943 (USA)
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.



(screen play), (screen play)

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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 <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sisters face to face...one burning with love...the other seething with hatred! A story of crushing power! 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
See  »

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, when Paul walks in to see Helen and Katie (after Katie told Helen she and Paul were to be married), the shot goes from the sisters facing each other to standing shoulder to shoulder back to facing each other. See more »


Paul Collins: You feel good, don't you? Don't you ever wake up at night and say to yourself, 'Maybe there's something just a little poisonous about me?'
Mrs. Helen Chernen: Mind your business!
Paul Collins: [With thinly disguised contempt] You know, in a queer, crazy kind of a way I admire you. I like to watch you work. It's like watching the manuveurs of the atlantic Fleet... and after you've done something particularly mean and nasty, I'd like to take you in my arms and kiss you.
Mrs. Helen Chernen: [a little taken back] Hmmmp! That's a lovely unique. Is this ...
See more »


Tip-Toe thru' the Tulips with Me
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Joseph A. Burke
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson in their vaudeville act
See more »

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User Reviews

Joan Leslie cartwheels her way to fame!
6 September 2001 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

This is a very enjoyable film, with a terrific central performance from Ida Lupino. But there are times when she seems to be working harder than she needs to, so that we see her acting. This is not surprising given the very light-weight performance given by Joan Leslie. Ida has to work very hard to get anything out of her. It's a shame, because I think a great actress in the Leslie role might have turned this film into an unforgettable exploration of sisterhood. Just imagine someone like Anne Baxter or Susan Hayward in the role. The really laughable sequence is the musical number that launches Leslie to stardom. It's a horrible piece of choreography and a very ordinary song, and the routine climaxes in Leslie doing some truly ridiculous cartwheels, that would have made her the laughing stock of Broadway. Instead she is the toast of the town, and a top playwright immediately offers to write a play for her! The climax of the film is also very silly, as anyone who has worked in the theatre would know. The actions of Morgan and Leslie here are completely unbelievable.

There are shades of ALL ABOUT EVE in THE HARD WAY - although the dialogue lacks the wit of Mankiewicz. It's good to see Carson and Morgan playing more meaty roles than usual - they were both top notch performers. But the best performance in the film is given by the wonderful Gladys George, who plays an ageing stage star manipulated out of her lead role by Lupino, to be replaced by Leslie. She is funny, touching and utterly convincing in a powerhouse cameo - can't imagine her doing those cartwheels though!

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