18 user 5 critic

Riffraff (1936)

Passed | | Crime, Drama | 3 January 1936 (USA)
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 »


J. Walter Ruben


Frances Marion (screen play), H.W. Hanemann (screen play) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Harlow ... Hattie Muller
Spencer Tracy ... Dutch Muller
Una Merkel ... Lil
Joseph Calleia ... Nick Lewis
Victor Kilian ... 'Flytrap'
Mickey Rooney ... 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


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


"Yes, I'm Riffraff! ...but watch me go places!" (Print Ad- The Inquirer,((Owensboro, Ky.)) 6 January 1936) See more »


Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This was the first of six features Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney made together. The last was It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), made 27 years later. See more »


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 »


[first lines]
Lil: Stinko again!
See more »


Featured in Red Hollywood (1996) See more »


It Ain't Gonna Rain No More
Written by Wendell Hall
See more »

User Reviews

What did she see in Tracy anyway?
1 December 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In watching Riffraff again I'm struck with the burning question, what did Jean Harlow see in Spencer Tracy?

Both are working class people, he's a commercial fisherman she's his sweetheart who works in the cannery owned by Joseph Calleia. He's a blustering, pigheaded, egomanaical boorish lout of a human being, kind of lovable in his own crude way. But stack him up against Joseph Calleia, foreign accent and all, there ain't a contest. Calleia is the guy all the fishermen deal with as independent contractors with their catch. He's shrewd and clever, ruthless at times, but definitely not stupid.

Frankly if it were me in Harlow's place, there's no contest. Take up with Joseph Calleia and give Spence the old heave-ho. But if Jean did that there'd be no movie.

Tracy's taking a part that normally would have been given to Wallace Beery at MGM. Maybe before San Francisco that's how MGM executives saw Tracy, a B picture Beery. It's similar to some of the roles he played at Fox. But I can't recall another film where he played a guy so dumb.

In fact the film is an odd property for MGM. This thing should have been made at Warner Brothers with Cagney and O'Brien.

But Jean loves her man through thick and thin, even goes to jail to protect him. I can hear Fanny Brice singing in the background.

Riffraff doesn't belong at the top of the list of film credits for either Tracy or Harlow. Mickey Rooney as Harlow's younger brother, Joseph Calleia as the boss, and J. Farrell MacDonald as the wise and compassionate head of the fisherman's union have the best roles.

But you want to see Tracy and Harlow sparkle? Go buy or rent Libeled Lady.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 18 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

3 January 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Riffraff See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed