The Cat's Paw (1934)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Political Satire, Satire  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Janiss Garza

The Cat's Paw is not a bad film (in spite of the use of racial epithets that may have been acceptable in 1934, but aren't today). Harold Lloyd, however, made a serious misstep when he decided to bring Clarence Buddington Kelland's novel to the screen. Instead of merely taking the story's basics and then making it his own, Lloyd decided to conform his approach to the story. The result is just not a Harold Lloyd film -- in fact, out of any of the leads, he seems somewhat miscast as Ezekiel Cobb, the naïve young missionary who brings Chinese honor and philosophy to a graft-filled California town. Lloyd could have made the character his own -- he certainly had played odd young men in his silent pictures -- but he didn't, and he couldn't quite fit himself into the character the way Kelland had written it. This miscasting is especially noticeable because Una Merkel and George Barbier fit their roles so well -- both were actually inspired casting choices. The truth is that Cobb, as he is presented here, could have very well been done better by one of the comedians whose careers flourished in the talkie era -- someone like Eddie Cantor, perhaps. Lloyd could have made far better use of his personality and comic talents if he had given the film his usual assortment of gags. As it stands, The Cat's Paw is a good enough comedy that could have been much, much better.