Hard to Get (1938)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Romance

Hard to Get (1938) Poster

When spoiled young heiress Maggie Richards tries to charge some gasoline at an auto camp run by Bill Davis, he makes her work out her bill by making beds. Resolving to get even, she ... See full summary »



  • Olivia de Havilland and Dick Powell in Hard to Get (1938)
  • Melville Cooper and Charles Winninger in Hard to Get (1938)
  • Olivia de Havilland and Melville Cooper in Hard to Get (1938)
  • Olivia de Havilland and Dick Powell in Hard to Get (1938)
  • Olivia de Havilland and Dick Powell in Hard to Get (1938)
  • Olivia de Havilland and Dick Powell in Hard to Get (1938)

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20 July 2013 | AlsExGal
| Rather inane romantic comedy ...
... and exhibit A as to why both Dick Powell and Olivia De Havilland ultimately fled from Warner Brothers for meatier roles. Still, it has its good points.

Maggie Richards (De Havilland) has just had a fight with her mother about not wanting to go to Newport for the summer, like most rich mothers and daughters did back in the day. As a result Maggie flees the scene by borrowing the valet's car and doesn't get far before she realizes she's out of gas. She stops at a gas station, lets the attendant (Dick Powell as Bill) fill up her car, and then tells him to "charge it", claiming to be the daughter of a wealthy man. The car isn't hers, she has no ID, and the money would come out of Bill's pocket if she never comes back, so he insists she return the gas or cough up the money, which she doesn't have since she ran out without her purse. When she tries to flee, Bill makes her make up the beds in all ten bungalows of the accompanying motor lodge to pay the bill, and hits her on the dernier with a broom when she tries to escape. Humiliated, Maggie vows revenge, but back home Dad (Charles Winninger) just is not interested in getting involved in this petty scrape.

Maggie returns the next day and gives Bill what he wants - a completely fabricated story about how sorry she is and tells him she is really wealthy Maggie Richards' maid. Bill buys this, dates her, and she tells him the password to get in to see Mr. Richards (Maggie's father), head of Federal Oil and Gas who might back his idea about building motor courts along with his company's gas stations. That password, however, was Mr. Richards' nickname in the oil fields when he started out in the business, plus Maggie knows her dad is really riled by strangers taking advantage of a password meant for old friends - much like a telemarketer calling an unlisted number. Mr. Richards gives Bill the business alright, but not the business Bill was hoping for. Maggie has her revenge, but she's starting to care for Bill and feel pangs of conscience about what she's done, but not before she has enlarged the ruse to ridiculous proportions so that if Bill finds out, she'll probably never see him again. How does this all work out? Watch and find out.

This could have been a better comedy, and it is pleasant enough as is, but there are some real inanities thrown into the situation, some funny some tiresome. One of funny parts is having Penny Singleton as the maid and Maggie switch roles for an evening. Penny is just perfect as a girl all dressed up like a plutocrat's daughter, but still with a working class demeanor and a rather limited and slanged vocabulary. This was the last film she did before she became famous as Blondie and she shows some of that comic flair in this film. The tiresome part of the film has to do with Mr. Richards, supposedly a self-made man, wanting to waste the day away with fifteen cent bets boxing, wrestling, and fencing his valet who always bests him. It's just not funny and seems out of character for a self-made man who had to be hard charging to get where he was. Why would he want to waste his time with such a silly pursuit? Recommended for fans of De Havilland and Powell, and for those great character actors who always added a touch of spice to these 1930's films.

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