After nearly a decade of nominal “leading lady” roles, Carole Lombard landed her first genuine starring vehicle with Hands Across the Table. Reasoning that the way to a man’s heart is through his cuticles, Regi Allen (Carole Lombard) takes a job as a manicurist at a fancy barbershop, unabashedly admitting that she hopes to use this position to snag a rich husband. Sure enough, Regi’s charms prove irresistable to Allen Macklyn (Ralph Bellamy) a wealthy and charming invalid, who knows that the girl is a golddigger but doesn’t care. The other man in Regi’s life is Theodore “Ted” Drew III (Fred MacMurray), who though born into a wealthy family is stone broke, and on the verge of marrying a rich debutante (Astrid Allwyn) to replenish his lost fortune. Hoping to briefly escape this fate and his other financial problems, Theodore hides out in Regi’s apartment. It is, of course, a platonic relationship: Having been burned in the past, Regi doesn’t want to get romantically entangled with a pauper, while Ted is already promised to someone else. But, as is often the case in 1930s comedies, things don’t quite turn out the way that either Regi or Ted expect. Full of delightful, unexpected touches, Hands Across the Table proved to be a major boost for Carole Lombard’s career, and didn’t exactly do any harm to up-and-coming Fred MacMurray either. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Mitchell Leisen (b. October 6, 1898, Menominee, Michigan–d. October 28, 1972, Los Angeles) was an American director, art director, and costume designer.
He entered the film industry in the 1920s, beginning in the art and costume departments. He directed his first film in 1933 with Cradle Song and became known for his keen sense of aesthetics in the glossy Hollywood melodramas and screwball comedies he turned out.
His best known films include the Alberto Casella adaptation Death Takes a Holiday and Murder at the Vanities, a musical mystery story (both 1934), as well as Midnight (1939) and Hold Back the Dawn (1941), both scripted by Billy Wilder. Easy Living (1937), written by Preston Sturges and starring Jean Arthur, was another hit for the director, who also directed Remember the Night (1940), the last film written by Sturges before he started directing his scripts as well. The films Lady in the Dark (1944), To Each His Own (1946), and No Man of Her… read more
lombard's nasal voice imitation of a phone operator from Bermuda and hysterical laughing afterwards are among the funniest things I've come upon this year / a series of loud instant laughs (not just mute giggles) in this rare eccentric hollywood comedy a la "the man who came to dinner"