HOLD YOUR MAN (1933) 

[Get the Poster]

Jean Harlow
Clark Gable
Stuart Erwin
Dorothy Burgess
Muriel Kirkland
Garry Owen
Barbara Barondess
Elizabeth Patterson
Inez Courtney

Sam Wood


About Harlow

Time: 87 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Drama/Romance

This romance is all fun and games – filled with witty one-liners and deep kisses – until our happy couple finds themselves in trouble with the law. It's not exactly a surprise since both Eddie (Gable) and Ruby (Harlow) make their livings off the gullibility of others. He's your typical small time con man. She uses her charm and sex appeal to separate decent men from their hard-earned money. Unfortunately, their "harmless" grifting turns accidentally deadly, forcing Eddie into hiding and Ruby into a reformatory for "bad girls." Since they can't catch him, she ends up doing time. While someone has to show how crime doesn't pay, watching a sullen, dowdy Harlow is not exactly a barrel of laughs and quite an unwanted change of tone from the first 45 minutes of this picture. To make matters worse, she discovers she's in the family way via Eddie, which makes her situation (an unwed, criminal mother) even more damaging in the eyes of society.

In an effort to save the soul of our beloved harlot, a plot is set in motion by Ruby's reformatory roommates to reunite her with Eddie on the altar and make an honorable woman out of her. While their quickie wedding gives Eddie and Ruby the chance to show their everlasting devotion to each other, it's so overly melodramatic (the ceremony is almost broken up by the police) it's hard to keep a straight face. Gable and Harlow are an engaging and sexy onscreen couple – a fact proven in their many onscreen pairings – but even their obvious chemistry can't save the last act of this picture. Produced on the cusp of Production Code enforcement, it's clear that naughty, loose and criminal behavior would no longer be tolerated, no matter how attractive or handsome a couple happened to be. Wickedness must be punished and it goes without saying that the woman is the one who takes the brunt of the blame. Some things never change.

While Harlow was often typecast as a woman with dubious morals, she never appears crass or cheap. There's a sweetness, strength and intelligence about her, an air of dignity that overcomes whatever unfortunate circumstance she finds herself in. She's not embarrassed by her actions (sleeping around) or their results (an unwanted pregnancy), embracing life on her own terms, which is why she continues to be a major Hollywood presence. Ruby is just a regular girl, who made a few errors in judgment, but is still a worthwhile human being. There's depth to her bad girl and her performance, despite the ridiculous nature of the plot, is a wonderful showcase of the power in living life on one's own terms. What begins as a saucy, sexy romp ends on a pious, moralistic and unbelievable note; however, if you're a fan of either Gable or Harlow, you'll enjoy this film well enough. Even the rules and restrictions of decent society can't dampen their charisma.

"I got two rules when I go out visiting: keep away from couches and stay on your feet."

home | reviews | actors | actresses | film heaven | all reviews