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Pichla | Agla

Movie Critique #329 : Hold Your Man

Stars:  3 / 5
Recommendation:  A film that entertains you with the light and dark shades of human emotions, a must watch.

Hold Your Man is a 1933 American romantic drama film starring Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. This is the third of the six films they had been paired together. This film also is from the pre-Code Hollywood era when the censorship guidelines were not yet established allowing the film makers to project nudity, violence and all the sins without limits. But the film makers ensured that there was punishment involved for sins committed so that the nudity and violence was accepted and appreciated by the audience.



Edward "Eddie" Hall (portrayed by Clark Gable) is a small-time con man who rushes into the first open apartment to hide from a chasing policeman. But the apartment isn't vacant as he thought but occupied by Ruby Adams (portrayed by Jean Harlow). Immediate sparks ignite between Ruby and Eddie. However, Ruby has a string of boyfriends whom she dates on and off and whom she too cons for money. And Eddie although falls in love with Ruby cannot leave his con man skills behind either. How will this end for both Eddie and Ruby? Will they find decent jobs to make their living? Or will their cons come to bite them back? And what will they do when their past relationships smack on their faces? Will they get married and live happily ever after? Or will they face the consequences of their sins? That is what the rest of the plot is about.

The opening scene for Jean Harlow is a semi-naked pose in a bath tub clearly showing this as a pre-Code era film, although the current films that we see in American, British or Indian languages have much more nudity that pass through censor board. Eddie's charming and easy going personality matches perfectly with the cynical mind of Ruby, they complement each other superbly. And their chemistry is superb - no wonder they made six films together. The comedy is there where needed and not more. Eddie and Ruby's friends and mates also have the exact role they need.

Movie starts off on a very humorous and easy note but goes into the darker shades of human emotions and sentiments. It is well made romantic film but for one elaborate hide and seek type scene for Eddie and Ruby. It could have been shortened a bit. Although there are a few more editing issues, the film is spot-on with the plot, characters and emotions.

Another classic film that definitely keeps you entertained with both light and dark shades of human emotions.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) The opening plot of this film reminded me of a much later movie titled Raja - a Telugu (an Indian language) film - released in 1999 starring Venkatesh, Soundarya and Abbas in lead roles. Although the Telugu film added a lot more sentiment and lot less nudity / violence as opposed to this film. More about the film here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raja_(1999_film).

2) A cute little saying on one of Ruby's pillows. Almost similar to what my motto is - live every day like it's your last day. Although the word gay would mean lot different in the current era.



3) A pennant named "Albany Night Boat" is also seen in Ruby's room. There was indeed such a steamship that carried passengers from NYC to Albany, usually an overnight trip up the Hudson River. These were mostly used by people who wanted to have romantic getaways or illicit affairs. However they ceased to exist by 1940 once the modes of transportation like trains, buses and cars were introduced which were must faster than a steamship.



4) Jean Harlow sings the title song "Hold Your Man". First it is shown playing on a gramophone record by an unknown woman in the background while Clark Gable and Jean Harlow dance to it. Later Jean Harlow sings it while playing a piano. Lyrics were penned by Arthur Freed and Music was composed by Nacio Herb Brown.



5) Check out the street organ player playing his music for a few coins. Not much different from the street performers we have now.



6) Grand Central doesn’t seem to have changed in almost 85 years.

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