Carole Lombard Glamour Collection: Hands Across the Table (1935)

Throughout the month of May I’ll be sharing reviews of the films featured in the Carole Lombard Glamour collection DVD set. This is the first review in the series.

Regi Allen (Carole Lombard) is a hotel manicurist with dreams of finding a rich husband so she can finally get out of the poverty she’s been living in for her entire life.

Regi strikes up a friendship with a client named Allen (Ralph Bellamy), who has fallen for her. Regi doesn’t see Allen as a potential husband despite his riches, so he becomes a confidant to her instead.

(Image: walterfilm.com)

(Image: walterfilm.com)

While leaving Allen’s manicure appointment one day, Regi meets a man in the hallway named Theodore Drew III (Fred MacMurray) — an apparently rich man who has actually become bankrupt due to the Great Depression and has similar dreams of “marrying up.”

Regi strikes up an odd companionship with Theodore, with both of them learning of the other’s plan to marry for money. Those plans may be foiled if they end up falling for each other instead.

Mitchell Leisen directs Hands Across the Table, a screwball comedy based on a story by Vina Delmar. This film appears on the first disc of “Carole Lombard – The Glamour Collection.”

Carole, Bellamy and Fred MacMurray all give very good performances in this delightful film.

The progression of their characters seems very natural, with Carole having greater chemistry with Bellamy in the beginning, when it seems that she’s only after MacMurray’s money. Once Regi finds out Theodore Drew III’s big secret, the chemistry between Lombard and MacMurray grows. They’ve learned the truth about each other, and the film gets a whole lot better as their relationship finds its cuteness factor.

Lombard’s character on her own is kind of frustrating to watch because she cares so much about money, but she learns her lesson in the end.

Also improving as the film progresses is the pace. At first it’s a bit slow, but not so much as to make the film an awful watch. It could use a pick-up early on, but it grabs the viewer’s attention well enough. As the relationships between the characters change and grow, the pace picks up.

This film was tailor-made to show off Carole’s sense of humor, and it certainly succeeds in doing so. The dialogue is very witty and there are a few outstanding comedic scenes. (My favorite was the “Bermuda calling” scene, which was partially improvised by Carole and Fred.)

Though it starts out pretty slowly, Hands Across the Table ends up being quite a good watch. The outcome is predictable, but it’s a very cute film for light viewing. The score: 3.5/5

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2 thoughts on “Carole Lombard Glamour Collection: Hands Across the Table (1935)

  1. Rose says:

    Here’s the thing I don’t get (and I love the movie): if Regi really was a gold digger then she would have gone after Allen in a heartbeat, nothing would have stopped her. Her obsession with money is a case of “the lady doth protest too much,” as if she had to keep reminding herself it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one. It didn’t ring true – especially regarding her interaction with Allen. Why wasn’t Allen marriage material? Because she was too fond of him? Because he was in a wheelchair? Were she as hardhearted as her words implied, none of that would matter. Her actions toward Allen belied her words. The disturbing question remains: was Allen out of the running due to being in a wheelchair?

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    • Lindsey says:

      That bugged me too, but I think that his being in a wheelchair did make him less attractive to her. It is an unfortunate reality that many people are too shallow to see past traits that they perceive as “flaws,” completely ignoring any positive traits or merits that would attract them to the person otherwise. As disgusting as it sounds, it does happen — I’ve seen it happen to a friend of mine. In this case, it would be a major flaw to Regi’s character.

      OR maybe I’m just being cynical and the reason she didn’t go for him was because, on a deeper level, she actually wanted to find love and didn’t care about money as much as she pretended to.

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