Too Hot to Handle (1938) Poster

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very funny Gable and Loy outing
blanche-215 September 2006
Clark Gable is a newsreel photographer doing stories on the China-Japan war in Shanghai, Walter Pidgeon is his rival, and Myrna Loy an aviatrix in "Too Hot to Handle," a 1938 film from MGM. Gable and Pidgeon know each other well and besides stealing each other's film, they fake stories so they can scoop one another and satisfy their bosses. They were way ahead of their time there. The funniest scene is Gable staging an airplane dropping a bomb over the house of a family. It's a toy airplane. Hilarious! Loy plays Alma Harding, trying to break air travel records so she can get money for an expedition to the Amazon to find her brother, who is presumed dead. When Pidgeon fakes a delivery of serum by Alma, a childhood friend, it goes wrong when the plane catches on fire after crashing. Gable saves her life and gains her trust. Whether or not it's justified is another matter.

Everyone is great in this movie, including Walter Connolly, who plays Gable's frustrated boss, Pidgeon, Loy and Gable. Gable is irresistible with that smile of his, and Loy is excellent as a determined woman who nevertheless succumbs to Gable's charms. Pidgeon plays a more boisterous part rather than his usual gentlemanly ones, and he comes off very well.

This is a fast-talking film where the action moves along at a rapid pace. A great example of a '30s comedy, tinged with romance, that you won't want to miss.
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Too funny not to enjoy
spirit1115 December 2000
WARNING: These comments may reveal portions of the film plot.

This is what I enjoy about classic films -- good writing, good directing, and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. It's a good laugh watching Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon both try to woo Myrna Loy. Don't take the film too seriously, and you'll enjoy it too!

Acting: Gable, Pidgeon, and Loy all are great, although Loy doesn't quite carry off the "missing brother" pathos as well as she does the brave pilot parts.

Writing: Also good, with lots of silliness to go around, while creating a solid romantic comedy.

Direction: Jack Conway let the actors do their best, and they did it well.

Effects/Cinematography: Why did they always speed up the fight sequences in those old films? Anytime there is action, the film picks up speed. The good news is, that the actual flying sequences look pretty realistic, considering that at one point Gable climbs onto the wing of a plane to get a good shot of a ship at sea that is on fire!

Other: Makeup, music, soundtrack, etc. all are solid, but these were not a big focus for films in the 30's, so there is nothing that stands out.

OVERALL: Check it out. I'm finding myself more and more of a Gable fan all the time, and this is the kind of movie that helps that image.
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What They Mean By Madcap Comedy
bkoganbing19 April 2004
I happen to be a big fan of old newsreels. From the dawn of sound films until around the mid-60s the newsreel was the source for visual news coverage. After that television and then cable television took over. I look at the educational channels when they have old 30s and 40s newsreels running.

The cameramen played by Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon are not too different from the print reporter characters that are a staple character in Hollywood films. These two have a friendly rivalry trying to scoop each other for news. The rivalry gets a little intense when aviatrix Alma Harding (Amelia Earhart) played by Myrna Loy gets ensnared in the rivalry and becomes the focus of their hormones.

The writing is sparkling with zingers and the direction is crisp. The plot moves from one madcap situation to the next. Among the supporting cast I should single out Walter Connolly and Henry Kolker as the rival bosses of Gable and Pidgeon who are driven to their respective wits end by the antics of their cameramen.

I defy anyone to watch this film and not split a gut laughing.
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good time movie!
johnmichaelm18 February 2007
I first saw this movie when I was in my 20's, and thought it was incredibly funny, exciting, and totally out of the realm of believability. But in addition to all that, it was the magic between the characters that made it so much fun. Gable and Loy, A list stars who could carry any picture on their own, seemed to let their status go by the wayside as they just jelled on screen. Walter Pigeon was great as always, and every great character actor in the world was on board somewhere, it seemed, during it's 86 minutes or so... I loved it then, still do, and watch it once a year just because it makes me feel so good.
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Serious adventure with shades of wackiness
stills-624 September 2001
A sometimes thrilling adventure that is first and foremost a Clark Gable vehicle. He's as cocky and quick-witted as ever. There are some good lines and a few good laughs, but his performance completely dominates and overshadows this movie, even when he's in a chicken suit. You would think that a movie with Myrna Loy would have some great zingers back and forth with the male lead. This happens too few times, however, and Loy looks like she doesn't want to be in this movie. This is some of the least amounts of chemistry from either of these two actors that I've ever seen.

I liked the story a lot, with its focus on the "backstage" of early newsreels. Much of the satire is still true today, and this movie doesn't look dated because of it. There are some holes and only Gable is truly worth watching. There are also a few too many racist references that might make a modern viewer uncomfortable.

It's still worth watching though, even if just for the antics of Gable and the jokes about the news business.
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Never a dull moment!
chaos11123 August 2006
The epitome of the madcap comedy/adventure genre! From the Japanese invasion of China to the bustle of midtown Manhatten to the Amazon jungle, never a dull moment. This could have served as the prototype for the "Indiana Jones" films or "Romancing the Stone".

War correspondent Gable is not beyond inventing a scoop if none is readily available. Myrna Loy, playing a sort of Amelia Earhart role, is duped by a rival news organization into a ploy to beat Gable at his own game. How the action moves from China to New York to a burning ship off the east coast to South America is....too complicated to describe in a short review. This may not be the best Gable film or the most convincing role ever played by Myrna Loy (although it's quite similar to her "Thin Man" roles), but it is highly entertaining. Both the filming and the story may be a little simplistic for today's taste and is certainly a far fetched plot but it's a good rip-roaring yarn nevertheless. I'll downgrade it to a 9 out of 10 only because the transfer that I saw wasn't up to the highest standards.
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albertoavio6 July 2004
When I saw the first time this movie I was a teenager and now after 15 years I have the same feelings, it's a masterpiece, really a great movie of the '30s. Yes I'm a fan of Clark Gable and Myrna Loy. Everybody can enjoy the speech the timing, the screenplay. Gable at his best, don't forget that in '38 Gable and Loy were nominated King and Queen of Hollywood. Why?

Just watch the movie and immediately realized!Let's have a lot of fun and malencony of a period that will never come back again.

Walter Connoly was a great actor and his part of journalist was remarkable.

Really a must to see for all of you who like the golden period of Hollywood and the movies of his king and queen.
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Solid 1930s action film with great cast
funkyfry15 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I liked this movie, probably a little more than I expected to. Loy sometimes seems confused unless she's strongly supported by a leading man, but this is one of those cases where the leading man (Gable) is up to the task. Pigeon also has a large role in the film but his is pretty much the subordinate role and almost no attempt is made to mask the fact that he will not "get the girl".

The film's plot basically has Gable and Pigeon as rival photographers for newsreel companies in NYC. Loy is a daredevil female pilot (think Amelia Earhardt) who they both try to woo on a professional and personal level. Her main angle is that her brother was lost in a crash in South America and she's trying to raise money to send out a rescue party.

The characters aren't too convincing or realistic, but this is an action/romance so that doesn't really matter. The dialogue is fun and Conway's direction makes the film flow very smoothly. The most impressive photography in the film is the aerial footage where Gable and Loy are photographing a burning ship at sea.... the effects for this were quite well done for the time.

Overall a pleasing, not too memorable, adventure film. I expected a sort of "Red Dust" type of film but found Gable's character somewhat less interesting, and the story somewhat more, than in that film.
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Cranked Up!
misctidsandbits23 September 2011
The reviews on this board caused me to give this old one a look this time around, having skipped it before. I didn't like the venue - all that native stuff, etc. But were they ever right about this being a great movie, actually one of the best for the interaction of these stars. Clark Gable just had the quality that always provided interest. He seemed to go into overdrive when playing a hustler type. Same for Myrna Loy about being interesting particularly in comedy. I like Walter Pidgeon differently, appreciating him in his active roles like this one and also for his gentlemanly portrayals. Very durable and reliable stars working well together in this. And funny and wild and fast. They really cranked them out back then; and sometimes they really cranked it up!!! Do see.
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If you can throw believability out the window and just enjoy, it's a heck of a good film
MartinHafer19 September 2006
Okay, this isn't Shakespeare. Clark Gable and Myrna Loy were the number one box office draws of 1938 and it seems that what made them famous was not believability but that their films were so much fun. Gable's films were always high on the action, romance and fun while Ms. Loy became famous for her wonderful banter in the THIN MAN movies. So, in this case, you merge the two into a very light adventure film filled with laughs and some marvelous dialog--and a romance that doesn't always work. It's certainly NOT the best film they did together, nor is it the worst and fans of both are sure to enjoy the film because it is pure "1930s MGM formula". Now modern viewers might not find the film so magical--after all, the plot is pretty tough to believe and the characters seem pretty cartoonish. But, given my love for this genre and these actors, I don't mind terribly. Sure, it's not super-memorable, but it was more than worth the energy I spent watching the film.

Clark is a "get it at ANY cost" cameraman for a company specializing in newsreels. He meets Loy my accidentally causing her plane to crash. Instead of being mad, she unbelievably praised Clark for saving her life (hey lady, it was HIS obnoxious actions that CAUSED the plane crash in the first place!). The rest of the film is on again/off again romance between them with Walter Pigeon trying to horn in between them. It's not at all believable and awfully silly, but the action and comedy bits are pretty cool, so they make up for the deficiencies and result in a decent and watchable flick. But, for persnickety people like me who delight at spotting problems with movies, take a look at the Amazonian villagers. They are all Black Americans who look and dress EXACTLY like extras from a TARZAN movie--and look not one bit like South American Indians!
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Interesting to watch all those African natives who inhabit the Amazon
vincentlynch-moonoi11 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The opening scenes of this film reminded me a bit of how the much later "Airport" (1970) begins, where you learn a little about how the business works. In this case, the business is newsreels.

This film was produced just a year before "Gone With The Wind", but what a difference with cinematography and general sophistication between the very 1930-ish "Too Hot To Handle" and the decades ahead of its time "GWTW". And, the aerial stunts Gable supposedly portrayed here just aren't believable.

Nevertheless, it's an entertaining flick, despite its flaws. And one of the chief flaws is the likable scoundrel Clark Gable...and he was likable, but not why exactly did Myrna Loy's character fall in love with him? Did women in the 1930s really have a total lack of good taste? Just when you think the film is preposterous, things begin to look up. Myrna Loy's brother is missing in South America, and our pals (Loy, Gable, and Walter Pidgeon) head for the Amazon where they encounter South American natives, all of whom happen to be African????? And what those African transplants fall for is just plain hokey; where in blazes does Gable's compadre get a movie projector in the middle of the jungle, let along the electricity to run it. Preposterous.

The acting of Gable, Loy, and Pidgeon is all great. But the script is pathetically foolish. And speaking of acting -- kudos to character actor Walter Connolly, who turns in a heck of a performance as Gable's newsreel company boss.

Perhaps if they had simply had Latinos playing the South American natives one could forgive the inconsistencies in this film. But this blunder is all too much.

There's nothing wrong with this film...except 78 years of sophistication. Entertaining? Yes. Believable? No. NOT a flick for your DVD shelf!
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great combo of Conway, Gable, M. Loy
ksf-213 September 2015
The kings and queens of comedy are here in this 1930s comedy-exotic-travel-adventure. Walter Connelly is the newspaper boss who has sent on-scene action reporter Hunter (Clark Gable) overseas to China to get the latest, hot, south seas action caught on film. Hunter's nemesis is Bill Dennis (Walter Pidgeon), and every scene is a competition to see who can top who, or who can put one over on the other. If Clark Gable is present, then Myrna Loy must be in here too, and she is... as Alma Harding. A fun, fast paced good-natured contest between the two reporters. Alma's brother is missing, and she talks Hunter (Gable) into helping to find him. Did you spot Marjorie Main as the secretary in the newsroom? She was only 48 in this one... she would go on to be nominated for Ma Kettle ten years later! Gable had recently gotten HIS Oscar for It Happened One Night. Myrna Loy received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. Even Walter Pidgeon was nominated for TWO Oscars in the 1940s. What a cast of pros! Obviously, they never left the back lot of Hollywood, but for the general public who had never traveled very far, this would have been very exciting and exotic. Of course, Hunter gets caught up in his own web of deception, but he must figure out how to win back the lady, as well as his job. This is a fun, exciting story, and worth every minute. Shown on TCM now & then. Directed by Jack Conway, MGM bigshot who made TONS of stuff with Gable and Loy. Catch this one when you can! You won't be sorry.
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not bad
kyle_furr5 February 2004
This movie stars Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon as rival newspaper men. They basically spend the entire movie trying to out scoop each other. Myrna Loy is the woman both are interested in and she goes down to the amazon to look for her missing brother. There are a few funny moments but not many, unless your a fan of the stars, don't bother to watch.
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This is Too Hot to Handle **
edwagreen15 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
You would think that the bombing of China in 1937 would be serious subject matter. Instead, this film turns into a nonsensical farce where two guys from two competing news services join forces to rescue the brother of Myrna Loy, a female pilot. What happened to China? The brother has been missing in the Amazon region.

The usually reliable Marjorie Main could have been such a riot as the stenographer to one of the companies. Instead, she is funny at the beginning of the film with her high toned sarcastic voice and then disappears for the most part.

Clark Gable befriends Myrna Loy, the pilot, who is romantically linked to Walter Pidgeon. Pidgeon gives up without a fight as it becomes evident that Gable shall take her away.

The part of rescuing the brother becomes almost silly as Gable and his pal don tribal clothes to get the brother out.

This is absolutely inane fanfare.
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Rival newsreel photographers in all sorts of hi-jinks...
Neil Doyle11 September 2012
TOO HOT TO HANDLE is a screwball mixture of comedy, action and romance but most of it is too incredible even though it is well played by the star trio--Gable, Loy and Pidgeon.

Throughout the story, the tricks and downright deception (including lots of unethical behavior) are the dominant factors that keep the plot spinning. Walter Catlett has a high time as a temperamental newsreel boss who wants wartime footage from Gable, the kind that will scoop a rival newsreel company. This rivalry pits Gable and Pidgeon against each other for the entire running time and includes rivalry over a woman aviatrix (Myrna Loy), who needs their help in finding her brother missing in the Amazon.

The strands of the story are woven uneasily in a mixture of comedy and drama that doesn't always work. Clark Gable has the pivotal role as one of the world's most conniving newsreel photographers. He has one hilarious scene at the start where he's faking an aerial bombing in China, calling all the shots and getting everything mixed up due to the language barrier. It's Gable at his comedic best.

But the script is overly busy in too many directions and the hi-jinks become tiresome before the story is over. Certainly not the best of Gable's MGM movies, even though he's paired with Myrna Loy. Walter Pidgeon has a livelier part than usual and makes the most of it.

Summing up: A major disappointment, considering the cast.
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