Hold Your Man (1933)

“I got two rules when I go out visiting: keep away from couches and stay on your feet.”

HYM Poster

Two con-artists (Clark Gable and Jean Harlow) fall in love, but are separated when pregnant Ruby (Harlow) takes the rap for Eddie (Gable) and is sent to a reform school.


After the success of their pairing in Red Dust (1932), Jean Harlow and Clark Gable teamed up once again for this financially successful but ultimately disappointing tale of doomed con-artists in love. The story — scripted by Anita Loos — starts off with plenty of zingy potential (Harlow and Gable have great chemistry together, naturally), but — per the directive of Louis B. Mayer, who wanted Ruby to “pay for her sins” — eventually devolves into sappy melodrama. As noted in David Boxwell’s analysis of the film for Senses of Cinema, it represents “a fascinating mix of racy pre-Code cynicism and post-Code sentimentality and piety”. Hold Your Man is worth a look for its first half, but ultimately not must-see viewing.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Harlow and Gable’s initial “meet cute” in the bathtub
    Hold Your Man Meet Cute

Must See?
No, though Harlow and/or Gable fans will likely be curious to check it out.


One Response to “Hold Your Man (1933)”

  1. Not a must. First viewing.

    Forgotten film that doesn’t need to be remembered for any real reason. So-so script isn’t worthy of the leading stars’ power. (Why is Harlow sent to jail at all, anyway? Can you be an accessory to a murder if the victim died as a result of your boyfriend’s punch?)

    The cast member who comes off best is Stuart Erwin, as Harlow’s most promising, soft-spoken suitor. He’s rather believable with the little he’s given.

    Speaking of that bathtub scene… Yes, it occurs when Gable and Harlow meet – he hides out from the police in her bathroom but they find him there, taking a soapy bath. When Gable talks to them (and he’s passing himself off as Harlow’s husband), his voice is effeminate – like he’s Tony Curtis playing Josephine in ‘Some Like It Hot’! Very weird.

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