Almost, but not quite, a musical, HARD TO GET came about as the result of Powell's wanting to get out of the mold he'd been placed in by Warner Brothers, of silly stories that were just there so Powell could sing. He wanted to show that he could also act, something he proved many years
later in a series of hard-boiled roles for various studios. Here, Powell is an architect who has been reduced to managing a gasoline station. De Havilland (his co-star in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM), a wealthy heiress, drives her spiffy Mercury convertible into the gas station-motel, fills it up,
and then, like so many rich folk, realizes she doesn't have a penny with her. Her diffident behavior toward him (before she discovers she's penniless) so infuriates Powell that he forces her to pay the gasoline bill by doing maid service in the motel's cabins. De Havilland is determined to get
even with Powell, who has spent quite some time designing a motel complex for a proposed chain of Howard Johnson-type inns across America. He needs money and one of the nabobs he'd like to meet is Winninger, a physical-fitness nut who loves twitting his valet, Cooper. De Havilland doesn't let
Powell know that Winninger is her father and says she will work it out that Powell gets an introduction to the wacky old man. She knows her father well and also knows that the man abhors aggressive young men and will, no doubt, toss Powell out within seconds. She's right, and Powell is sent
packing after the interview. Not content with that, she masquerades as a maid in her own home and asks Powell to come by. The same result. Next, Powell poses as a maintenance man, a female janitor, and a Western Union boy in order to get close to Winninger, but all his efforts result in getting
booted out. Winninger is about to throw a huge party at the estate, so Powell dresses up as a musician in blackface. When he overhears De Havilland telling one of her blue-nose pals what she did to Powell, he is hurt and leaves, but not before he drops his plans for the auto courts. Winninger
finds them, takes a gander, and declares them to be terrific. They are exactly what he's been wanting to do for some time but who is the brilliant designer? Once Powell is determined to be that person, De Havilland comes to the realization that she adores him and that she would like to marry him.
The best scenes in the picture are between Winninger and Cooper as the two men fence, box, wrestle, and compete on several levels with Cooper always winding up the loser. Two songs are heard, "There's A Sunny Side To Every Situation" and the great Harry Warren-Johnny Mercer standard, "You Must
Have Been A Beautiful Baby." Not a hit with 1938 audiences, who may have wanted more singing from Powell.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Almost, but not quite, a musical, HARD TO GET came about as the result of Powell's wanting to get out of the mold he'd been placed in by Warner Brothers, of silly stories that were just there so Powell could sing. He wanted to show that he could also act,… (more)