Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too Hot To Handle (1938)

Chris Hunter (Clark Gable) and Bill Dennis (Walter Pidgeon) are rival newsreel men who are constantly trying to out scoop the other. If the stories get thin, sometimes improvisation is needed. After being scooped by Hunter with a less-than-truthful newsreel, Dennis decides to fake his own story to beat Hunter at his own game. Unfortunately, Alma Harding (Myrna Loy) gets drug into the mess and soon both men are rivals again, but this time for her affections.

Lobby Card for Too Hot To Handle

That is a very high-level view of the plot. There is also a sub-plot about Alma being a top female aviator who is out to find her brother, whose plane crashed along the Amazon. She will take almost any job just to try to raise enough money for her expedition to find what became of her brother.

This is an example of one of those movies where suspension of disbelief is a must. It isn't a bad film at all, it just has it's quirks and if you are up for a fun adventure where you throw any questions about "They can't really fly over a ship that blew up and survive, can they?" then this is for you. I don't want to sound like I didn't enjoy this one - I really did. I love fun adventures and this one really fits the bill.

One of the highlights of this film is the competition between Gable and Pidgeon. They are excellent as the stereotypical newsmen who would sell their own mothers to get a decent story. The dialogue between them is excellent as they take jab after jab at each other. The downside of their ruthless "win at all costs" nature is that it makes it hard to believe that either are really in love with Loy. It seems more like another competition they are in just to show who is better at winning rather than a true attempt to win a woman's heart. One of my favorite lines from the movie was Gable saying to Pidgeon, "With the way you looked at her with those calf eyes just now, you'd let her walk on you with spiked shoes." Great line.

I have made no secret of the fact that Gable is not a favorite leading man of mine. He always seems kinda slick and oily. You know? Icky car salesmaney. However, I have had a friend feeding me some of his movies to attempt to sway me and, sway me he has. I see now that my first impression as slick and oily is really more rascally than anything else. Rascally = good. Oily = bad. After watching "Wife vs. Secretary", "Mutiny on the Bounty" and this one as well as re-watching "It Happened One Night", I concede he is a dang fine actor with a fair bit of range. He still isn't at the top of my male lead list, but I no longer cringe when I see him on the credits - this is a vast improvement for me, I assure you.

I definitely recommend this one if you get some time to watch it. Of course, it is another one you will have to try to catch on TCM as it isn't on DVD. However, it is a fun adventure and the newsman competition angle is great. Plus, you get to see Gable jump around in some version of a strange chicken suit. You can't beat that!


kda0121 said...

This is such a fun movie. It's one of my favorite Gable movies and one I've seen several times.

Jennythenipper said...

I just watched this one the other day. I am going to review it my blog, too when I get a chance. I'm delighted to see it here. We must be in movie synchronicity. I have to agree that the best part of the movie is the interaction between Gable and Pidgeon. I like Loy and Gable together though and I don't even mind that he gets the girl away from Walter Pidgeon who is right up my street. I'm in agreement on Gable, too. He does tread the line between rascal and oily. But this is the kind of part he was born to play and he looks great doing it.

AbbyNormal said...

Jenny - I can't wait to read your review on this!