Reviewed by Paul Cogley
Hideout is not well known, but it is an utterly delightful Depression-era movie directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starring a superb cast of players in all of its leading and supporting roles. It is well-paced and funny, and has a clever story about a hardcore criminal who becomes reformed because he hides out with good people.
We are introduced to Lucky Wilson, played by Robert Montgomery, a racketeer with a roving eye for pretty blondes that is revealed to us in a film montage sequence of his female conquests. We are taken to a particular evening where we find him flirting with a nightclub dancer. But as it so happens, Lucky is being tailed by the police and a gun-firing chase ensues. Wounded while fleeing, he is found on the road by a Good Samaritan Connecticut farmer and brought to his home to recuperate. Thus ends the seamy side of Lucky’s life, and for the rest of the movie we will see him change gradually as the values of the farmer’s family rub off on him.
The farmer has a daughter named Pauline, played by a sunny Margaret O'Sullivan, whose naturalness contrasts with the glamorous women we saw with Lucky in the city. Pauline has a younger brother, Willie, who takes a liking to him. The young actor playing Willie was my favorite among the excellent supporting cast: Mickey Rooney. The young Rooney was 13 years old but looked younger here. His acting is natural and amazingly feels fully actualized. Rooney’s rapport with Montgomery is especially well done.
A running gag has Lucky attempting to spend time alone with Pauline, but some mishap always foils him up. Finally, caught in a rainstorm, they take shelter in a cabin near the farm and sit in front of the fire, alone together at last. Of course, by now our incorrigible lady’s man has fallen in love with the wholesome, beautiful farmer’s daughter.
This is a heart-warming, family-friendly film with a lot of laughs. Made eighty years ago, it holds up very well. Anyone at any age would enjoy it.