Saturday, August 2nd, 2008


Year: 1934

Director: Wood Van Dyke

Cast: Robert Montgomery, Maureen O’Sullivan, Mickey Rooney

Hide-Out begins as a gangster film and evolves into a romantic comedy, a smooth under the direction of Woody Van Dyke. In the first minutes of the movie, Lucky Wilson (Robert Montgomery), a playboy and racketeer is juggling five women. First, we find Lucky in the apartment of a woman with whom he apparently spent the night yet he is on the phone making a date with another woman. Soon as he hangs up, the maid walks in and he quickly plans a rendezvous with her. After he leaves the apartment, a car waiting to pick him up there is still another woman waiting with open arms in the backseat whom he tells he’s “crazy about.”

They go to a new nightclub and before they are even seated, Lucky is eyeing the female singer on stage. He signals to her of his interest and they make a date while she is in the middle of performing her song. It‘s a cute scene that does not go over very well with his current girl sitting at the table who is watching this whole scene play out.

In between his dates with women, Lucky is selling “protection” to night club owners. Unfortunately, for Lucky, one of the disgruntled club owners has squealed to the cops about the protection racket and the police are now out to arrest Lucky. The police close in that night as they follow him to the apartment of the singer who he made plans to meet after the show. There’s a shootout, and Lucky escapes but not before being shot.

Wounded, Lucky manages to get to a car and flees the city ending up in Connecticut. Bleeding badly he is found slumped over in his car by Henry Miller a local farmer. When he wakes up, he finds himself at the home of the Miller’s, a wholesome family who take care of him while his wounds heal. Never out of New York before, Lucky can’t wait to go back to the city until he meets the Miller’s daughter Pauline (Maureen O’Sullivan). It is at this point, that this “gangster” flick turns into a romantic comedy. We now have a fish out of water story about a city guy in the country and out of his element on the farm.

Life is idyllic for Lucky with the Millers, he learns how to feed the chickens and milk the cows and other farm chores. Lucky pursues Pauline and they fall in love. There’s a very tender romantic scene where they kiss for the first time confessing their love for each other, a high point in the film. He also realizes at that same time that his past life, which the Miller’s know nothing about, will come back to haunt him. It soon does in the face of his nemesis Lt. McCarthy (Edward Arnold). Lucky will have to pay for his past. He tells Pauline all about his former life and she tells him she will wait for him. Love conquers all in this tender entertaining film.

Montgomery and O’Sullivan make a good looking pair and have plenty of chemistry between them. Also in the film is Mickey Rooney as Pauline’s kid-brother, Willie, who I admit I did not find as annoying as I sometime do. Edward Arnold and Elizabeth Patterson are also good in their roles as Lt. MacCarthy and Ma Miller.

1934 was a good year for director Woody Van Dyke. Beside Hide-Out he directed Robert Montgomery in Forsaking All Others with Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. That same year Van Dyke directed Manhattan Melodrama with Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy and The Thin Man with Powell, Loy and Maureen O’Sullivan.

Hide-Out is an enjoyable and distinctive film mixing genres, with a fine cast. A nice way to spend 80 minutes.

Robert Montgomery. Robert Young. Robert Taylor. during the 1930s in Hollywood, MGM had three fantastic contract players, all by the name of Robert. They were also frequently cast in similar roles, despite their types and styles being quite different. This habit of MGM of casting them similarly is the reason, I imagine, that my dad can never remember which one I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure he still thinks Robert Montgomery and Robert Young are the same person. I talk about Montgomery a lot, and my Dad always says, “Father Knows Best, right?” No. No, Dad. Not at all.

Robert Taylor

Taylor’s career started a little after the other Roberts. Taylor was classically good looking, which made him well cast in films like Camille. But he did have the charm and talent to pull off different kinds of roles as well.

Small Town Girl (1936)
Taylor plays a drunken playboy who gets smashed and married sweet Janet Gaynor one night. At first, Taylor’s role is kind of thankless. The pair agree to a sham marriage, and Taylor kind of treats her like dirt, even when they bury the hatchet and agree to be friendly. Taylor doesn’t try to make his character’s behavior charming. He’s not afraid to really show his character as the bad guy, so that when the character turns around and we get the happy ending we want, it’s a little more interesting.

Three Comrades (1938)
Taylor’s youthful looks served him well in this role as a childish soldier back from the first world war who falls in love with dying ex-socialite Margaret Sullavan. There are three “leading me” in this film; Taylor, the other Robert, Young, and Franchot Tone. They each possess something unique to their character so that when the three of them come together they almost create one whole person. Taylor provides, quite perfectly, the heart.

Johnny Eager (1942)
Taylor really broke type to play the seemingly heartless gangster of the title. Though there is romance to the story, Taylor is at his most compelling here when he’s being ruthless, as when he sets up his lover, Lana Turner, for a fake murder. The film also features a brilliant and Oscar winning performance from Van Heflin.

Robert Young

Of the three Roberts, Young is the least “suave” and “debonair”. However, I don’t agree with Hollywood’s assessment of him, that he had no sex appeal. While he may not be as attractive physically as the other Roberts, or the other stars in Hollywood, there is a certain something about him. Perhaps it’s just his talent, but there is something incredibly attractive about him.

Today We Live (1933)
This is one of my very favorite war movies. It centers on four people and their relationships with each other, and the way the war shapes them. Young gives a very good performance opposite Joan Crawford. He’s her childhood friend who loves her. The two marry, despite her love for Gary Cooper, and Young is blinded in battle. He gives a really nice, quiet performance, never overplaying it and never asking for pity.

Married Before Breakfast (1937)
Movies don’t get much cuter than this. I wasn’t expecting this movie, it was just on late one night when I was trying to sleep and I ended up staying up late and watching the whole thing. Both Young and his love interest are engaged to other people, but they have a one night adventure that makes you want them to both leave their respective fiancees. It fun, sweet, and completely adorable.

The Mortal Storm (1940)
For 1940, this film must have been brutal. America hadn’t even entered the war yet, but still Borzage made this moving and unflinching film about a half Jewish family in Germany torn apart by the Nazis. Young really broke type in this movie to play an intolerant young Nazi who helps to destroy the family he was practically a part of.

Robert Montgomery

Montgomery is my absolute favorite Robert. He’s also my favorite actor ever. Though he was frequently cast in supporting roles that required him to be suave and slick, he showed more than once his incredible range. He really could do it all. Sophisticated comedy, slapstick, drama, even psychological thriller. Montgomery was amazing as pretty much everything the studio threw at him, and he received two Oscar nominations for his work (for Night Must Fall and Here Comes Mr. Jordan)

Lovers Courageous (1932)
Montgomery is paired here with Madge Evans, his very best leading lady. Evans is a wealthy girl, Montgomery a poor playwright, and the two fall in love and are married, despite her parents’ objections. It’s such a simple story, and it is handled as such by director Robert Z. Leonard, but the simplicity of the film is one of the best things about it. It’s just a straight up, lovely, and honest romance.

Trouble for Two (1936)
This is one hell of a strange film. The plot involves royalty, arranged marriage, and suicide clubs. It’s really weird, and I can’t really explain it. It’s a good movie, but it has such a unique tone and bizarre storyline that it has to just be seen. Montgomery and costar Rosalind Russell give pitch perfect performances, which I can’t imagine was easy in a film with such a weird style and atmosphere.

Rage In Heaven (1940)
Montgomery apparently was not pleased about being cast in this film, and said that he wasn’t even going to try. Well, the fact that he didn’t even try in this only shows how amazing he was, because it’s still an excellent performance. He plays a man driven mad by jealousy. He starts out romantic and slowly descends into creepy and crazy. It’s really a good performance.

By Katie Richardson