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The Cat's-Paw (1934)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 7 August 1934 (USA)
A naive missionary brought up in China returns to America to seek a wife. Corrupt politicians enlist him to run for mayor as a dummy candidate with no chance of winning.

Directors:

Sam Taylor, Harold Lloyd (uncredited)

Writers:

Clarence Budington Kelland (story), Sam Taylor (screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Harold Lloyd ... Ezekiel Cobb
Una Merkel ... Pet Pratt
George Barbier ... Jake Mayo
Nat Pendleton ... Strozzi
Grace Bradley ... Dolores Doce
Alan Dinehart ... Mayor Ed Morgan
Grant Mitchell ... Silk Hat McGee
E. Alyn Warren ... Tien Wang (as Fred Warren)
Warren Hymer ... 'Spike' Slattery
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Shigley (as J. Farrell Macdonald)
James Donlan James Donlan ... Red - the Reporter
Edwin Maxwell ... District Attorney Neal
Frank Sheridan ... Dan Moriarity - Police Commissioner
Fuzzy Knight ... Stuttering Gangster
Vince Barnett ... Wilks - a Gangster (as Vincent Barnett)
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Storyline

Naive Ezekial Cobb, brought up by his missionary father in China returns to America to seek a wife. Corrupt politicians enlist him to run for mayor as a dummy candidate with no chance of winning. Their plan backfires as he wins and embarks upon a reform crusade. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Everything new but these [eyeglasses]

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Cantonese | German

Release Date:

7 August 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cat's Paw See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$617,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$693,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The novel upon which this film is based was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post from 26 August to 30 September 1933. Harold Lloyd paid $25,000 ($488,000 in 2018) for the rights to the story. See more »

Quotes

Strozzi: I got a message for you. Just two words.
Ezekiel Cobb: And they are?
Strozzi: Lay off!
Ezekiel Cobb: Lay where?
See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Just That Way
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Akst
Lyrics by Roy Turk
Performed by Grace Bradley
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A still-potent political comedy
9 September 2002 | by kep315See all my reviews

Before Frank Capra's socially-aware comedy-dramas such as "It's a Wonderful Life," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington" and (my favorite) "Meet John Doe" there was "The Cat's Paw." In fact, "The Cat's Paw" and "Meet John Doe" share a similar plot: Corrupt politicians in a pickle find a sap to run for office so that they can use him for their own purposes.

In this case, Harold Lloyd plays a naive missionary just returned from China to his hometown of Stockport. Lloyd's character, Ezekiel Cobb, had planned on catching up with a friend of his, the Rev. Julius P. Withers, who dies unexpectedly. Withers had been running for mayor as the token losing opposition against the long-corrupt incumbent. His planned loss would've insured Withers' party (THE REFORM PARTY, no less! Talk about cynicism!) would continue to be paid off through the mayor's graft. Wouldn't you know it, just as the Reformers are looking for some sap to take Withers' place, in walks Ezekiel. Naturally, Ezekiel wins instead of losing, and turns idealistic political reformer -- much to the dismay of all the town's corrupt politicians and criminal class. Ezekiel's solution to halting the political corruption is both surprising and hilarious.

I found this film on TCM and, much to my surprise, not only kept watching it, but kept laughing -- all the way through. Great performances by Lloyd, transforming from unsophisticated (he doesn't even know how to use a phone!), Chinese-proverb quoting straight-arrow to incorruptible populist mayor; Una Merkle as the tough-girl love interest who convinces Ezekiel to do what's right through canny reverse psychology; and George Barbier as the initially-corrupt Reform Party boss, who comes around to Ezekiel's way of thinking. Also, lots of familiar character-actor faces whom you can't identify though you know you've seen them before.

This film is well worth seeking out. If it's not on VHS or DVD, it should be! It's a forgotten classic!


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