Among the three movies nominated for Best Story at the seventh Academy Awards in 1935 was W.S. Van Dyke‘s 1934 film Hide-Out. It’s hard to see why today, since the fish-out-of-water story of a gangster out of his element feels like an over-done cliche at this point, but thanks to an array of charismatic stars, this is an enjoyable, breezy comedy from MGM.
Written by Mauri Grashin, the story finds Robert Montgomery as Jonathan “Lucky” Wilson, a racketeer whose boss sends him out to the country after an arrest warrant is issued. Since Lucky can’t handle the horror of spending a week in the Catskills without a dame, he goes back to his hotel to pick one up – and finds the coppers waiting for him. During his escape, he is shot but manages to drive out of the city.
After crashing his car, he winds up at a farmhouse in Connecticut, where the sweet and wholesome Millers (Elizabeth Patterson and Whitford Kane) live. Of course, they have a beautiful daughter, Pauline (Maureen O’Sullivan) and a rambunctious son, Willie (Mickey Rooney).
Of course, we can all tell where this story is going. Lucky falls in love with Pauline, learns the evils of his ways back in the city and grows a conscious. However, Montgomery’s wise-guy charisma and O’Sullivan’s tender performance help Hide-Out keep your interest. There is also a stacked supporting cast here, including Edward Arnold as the cop chasing Lucky and Edward Brophy as his partner.
Although the plot is standard fare, there are plenty of witty and unforgettable scenes. There’s one hilarious moment when the Millers try to avoid telling Willie they are eating his pet rabbit for dinner, but Lucky can’t keep it a secret. It instantly brings the famous “Pedro the Turkey” scene from GIANT to mind.
Hide-Out certainly does not break any new ground and future romantic comedies would get better at this format, but Montgomery fans should eat this up. O’Sullivan also gives a wonderful performance of a farmer’s daughter who isn’t quite as easy to fool as you think. And it’s always fun to see a young Mickey Rooney in action.
The Warner Archive DVD includes no extras.
Thanks to Warner Archive for providing this DVD to review. It is now available at WBShop.com. All screencaptures are taken from the DVD.