The Cat's-Paw (1934)

100-101 mins | Comedy-drama | 7 August 1934

Director:

Sam Taylor

Writer:

Sam Taylor

Cinematographer:

Walter Lundin

Production Designer:

Harry Oliver

Production Company:

Harold Lloyd Corp.
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HISTORY

Clarence Budington Kelland's novel first appeared as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post (26 Aug--30 Sep 1933). Contemporary sources assert that actor Harold Lloyd had never before worked from a published story, or from a story that was not written expressly for him. An unidentified, contemporary news item in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library noted that Lloyd was going to spend $500,000 on this production. According to modern sources, Lloyd paid $25,000 for the film rights to Kelland's novel, and eventually spent $617,000 on the film. According to HR news items, Lloyd signed Vincent Lawrence to write the picture's screenplay, and hired Edward Curtis to "assist on dialogue." Their contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed, however. Production was delayed several times due to director Sam Taylor's illness, and according to a HR news item, Lloyd directed during at least one of Taylor's absences. HR news items reported that Lloyd borrowed actors Grace Bradley and George Barbier from Paramount, Una Merkel from M-G-M, and musical director Alfred Newman from United Artists.
       Modern sources assert that Clyde Bruckman worked on the script, and include the following actors in the cast: Jimmy Dime , Don Brodie, Harry Tenbrook, Kit Guard, George Magrill, Jack Herrick, Paul Panzer, James Mason and Harry Wilson ( Gangsters ); Louis Natheaux ( Headwaiter ); Ray Turner ( Bootblack ); Pat Harmon ( Policeman ); Tom London ( Murph ); Frances Morris and Edward Hearn ( Radio listeners ); Charles McMurphy ( Policeman at elevator ); Sydney Jarvis ( Photo session extra ); Walter James ( Club doorman ... More Less

Clarence Budington Kelland's novel first appeared as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post (26 Aug--30 Sep 1933). Contemporary sources assert that actor Harold Lloyd had never before worked from a published story, or from a story that was not written expressly for him. An unidentified, contemporary news item in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library noted that Lloyd was going to spend $500,000 on this production. According to modern sources, Lloyd paid $25,000 for the film rights to Kelland's novel, and eventually spent $617,000 on the film. According to HR news items, Lloyd signed Vincent Lawrence to write the picture's screenplay, and hired Edward Curtis to "assist on dialogue." Their contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed, however. Production was delayed several times due to director Sam Taylor's illness, and according to a HR news item, Lloyd directed during at least one of Taylor's absences. HR news items reported that Lloyd borrowed actors Grace Bradley and George Barbier from Paramount, Una Merkel from M-G-M, and musical director Alfred Newman from United Artists.
       Modern sources assert that Clyde Bruckman worked on the script, and include the following actors in the cast: Jimmy Dime , Don Brodie, Harry Tenbrook, Kit Guard, George Magrill, Jack Herrick, Paul Panzer, James Mason and Harry Wilson ( Gangsters ); Louis Natheaux ( Headwaiter ); Ray Turner ( Bootblack ); Pat Harmon ( Policeman ); Tom London ( Murph ); Frances Morris and Edward Hearn ( Radio listeners ); Charles McMurphy ( Policeman at elevator ); Sydney Jarvis ( Photo session extra ); Walter James ( Club doorman ); Larry Steers, Pat Somerset and Brooks Benedict ( Club patron ); and James Wang ( Chinese elder ). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Aug 1934.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jan 34
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 Jul 34
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Jul 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Sep 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
24 Jul 34
pp. 4-5.
Film Daily
30 Jul 34
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 33
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jan 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 34
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 34
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 34
pp. 6-11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 34
p. 1.
International Photographer
Mar 34
p. 16.
Motion Picture Daily
28 May 34
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
12 May 34
p. 42.
Motion Picture Herald
16 Jun 34
p. 30.
Motion Picture Herald
4 Aug 34
p. 30.
MPSI
1 Feb 35
p. 34.
New York Times
17 Aug 34
p. 12.
Variety
21 Aug 34
p. 17.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Vincent Barnett
David Jack Holt
Frank La Rue
Rychard Cramer
William C. Irving
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
William R. Fraser, General Manager
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Fill-In dir
1st asst dir
2nd asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Mixer
Mike man
DANCE
Dance numbers by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Chief elec
Props
Casting dir
Location mgr
Asst tech dir
Still photog
Publicity dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Cat's-Paw by Clarence Budington Kelland (New York, 1934).
SONGS
"I'm Just That Way," music by Harry Akst, lyrics by Roy Turk.
COMPOSERS
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 August 1934
Production Date:
30 January--23 April 1934 at General Service Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Harold Lloyd Corp.
Copyright Date:
17 August 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4895
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
100-101
Length(in feet):
9,155
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
55
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

After living in China with his missionary parents for twenty years, Ezekiel Cobb returns to the United States to find a wife. When he arrives at the city of Stockport, Ezekiel is baffled by American slang and rudeness, especially when his father's sponsor, Dr. Junius P. Withers, refuses to see him. Ezekiel confides his plight to political boss Jake Mayo, who is touched by Ezekiel's naïveté and sends him to a boardinghouse. That afternoon, Withers dies, causing much consternation for Jake and Mayor Ed Morgan, because Withers was the perenially losing reform candidate for mayor who split the vote so that crooked Morgan was always elected. Jake and Morgan agree that they need another stooge before the election in two days, and so Jake decides to have Ezekiel replace Withers. Jake tells him to be at the city hall the next day for a banquet, at which they will announce his candidacy, but when the time comes, Ezekiel is having tea with his Chinese friend, Tien Wang. Jake begins the banquet and testimonials to the new candidate anyway, and as Ezekiel rushes to city hall, he hears the proceedings on the radio. He is stunned to discover that he is running for mayor, but Jake tells him that it is a matter of principle, even though there is no chance he will win. After Ezekiel accepts, he dines with Petunia "Pet" Pratt, a cynical cigarette girl, at a swanky nightclub, where Ezekiel is dazzled by Morgan's girl friend, Dolores Dace, a glamorous singer who gets him to dance with the chorus girls. The incident creates public support for Ezekiel, who is now ... +


After living in China with his missionary parents for twenty years, Ezekiel Cobb returns to the United States to find a wife. When he arrives at the city of Stockport, Ezekiel is baffled by American slang and rudeness, especially when his father's sponsor, Dr. Junius P. Withers, refuses to see him. Ezekiel confides his plight to political boss Jake Mayo, who is touched by Ezekiel's naïveté and sends him to a boardinghouse. That afternoon, Withers dies, causing much consternation for Jake and Mayor Ed Morgan, because Withers was the perenially losing reform candidate for mayor who split the vote so that crooked Morgan was always elected. Jake and Morgan agree that they need another stooge before the election in two days, and so Jake decides to have Ezekiel replace Withers. Jake tells him to be at the city hall the next day for a banquet, at which they will announce his candidacy, but when the time comes, Ezekiel is having tea with his Chinese friend, Tien Wang. Jake begins the banquet and testimonials to the new candidate anyway, and as Ezekiel rushes to city hall, he hears the proceedings on the radio. He is stunned to discover that he is running for mayor, but Jake tells him that it is a matter of principle, even though there is no chance he will win. After Ezekiel accepts, he dines with Petunia "Pet" Pratt, a cynical cigarette girl, at a swanky nightclub, where Ezekiel is dazzled by Morgan's girl friend, Dolores Dace, a glamorous singer who gets him to dance with the chorus girls. The incident creates public support for Ezekiel, who is now perceived as "a regular guy," and he makes himself even more popular by knocking out Morgan, who has drunkenly hit a newsboy. The next day, Ezekiel wins the election by a landslide, and when he tells Pet he must return to China, she shames him into staying. Two months pass as Ezekiel fires Morgan's cronies and vetoes the bills that will result in graft. Jake warns Ezekiel that he is in danger from the political machine he is dismantling, but Ezekiel responds by making Jake the new police commissioner, thereby restoring Jake's belief in honesty. Later that night, Ezekiel is on a date with Pet when Dolores gives him an envelope that she says contains personal letters. She makes him promise to put them in his safe deposit box, which he does the next morning. Unknown to Ezekiel, however, the envelope contains fake deeds, devised by Morgan's gang, which establish him as the owner of a company to which he has awarded a city contract. District Attorney Neal, after hearing allegations that Ezekiel is crooked, opens the box and finds the damning evidence. Ezekiel realizes that by the next day the governor will remove him, but Pet convinces him that he has one day left with which to do good. Ezekiel goes to his office and tells Jake and Pat Shigley, to whom Jake gave the police commissioner's job, to arrest every crook in town and put them in Tien Wang's cellar. Ezekiel then reads to Jake and Pat a story about an ancient Chinese warrior who rid a town of evil men by beheading them, and tells them that Tien has the sword used by the warrior. Despite their forebodings, Jake and Pat carry out his orders, and even arrest Morgan and his gang. Once they are in Tien's cellar, Ezekiel tells them that he will not allow his city to revert to their control, therefore they have a choice of confessing their crimes or being beheaded. Not all of the crooks are convinced, so Ezekiel takes one into another room, and with the help of a Chinese magician, The Great Chang, makes it appear as if the man has been beheaded when they carry his bleeding head through the main room. No one confesses yet, so Ezekiel perpetrates the same trick upon Morgan, after which the others eagerly write confessions. Ezekiel then rushes off to propose to Pet. She accepts, and some time later, the couple visits Tien Wang. After a bit of playful bickering, the couple agrees to stay in Stockport with Ezekiel as mayor rather than return to China as missionaries. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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