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Have a Heart (1934)

Have a Heart (1934)

Jean Parker plays Sally Moore a young dancer & instructor of children in her craft amid the theaters off Broadway in New York City. She’s engaged to marry Joe Lacy (Paul Page). On the night before their wedding their friends including her roommate Joan (Una Merkel) and her boyfriend Gus (Stuart Erwin) throw a big party for them in the apartment that the girls share. Joe chases Jean around the apartment with a photographer trying to have a picture taken of them for the newspaper. Jean is resisting because she says it’s bad luck to photograph the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding. When she runs out on the fire escape it collapses and she falls several floors to the street below.

Later at a hospital Dr. Spear (Samuel Hinds) tells Jean that she’ll have to wear a special shoe for the rest of her life because there is nothing more he can do for her. When she presses him he admits that there is a doctor overseas who could operate on her so that she could dance again but her financial situation makes that option impossible. Though Joe has paid for all her health-care he also makes it clear that he no longer wants to be with Jean even though he’ll “go through with it” (their wedding) if she insists. She tearfully relieves him of his obligation and Joan makes him feel like the heel he is as he departs. Jean has learned a doll making & repairing skill while in the hospital which will provide her a means to make a living.

Joan is a supportive roommate & friend whose boyfriend Gus is a schemer that’s constantly trying to find an easy way to make money. She tries to get Jean to date again and “forces” her to accept an invitation from the local “Have a Heart” ice cream vendor Jimmie Flaherty (James Dunn) who so far doesn’t know about Jean’s condition. Jimmie is a nice Irishman though he does have a tendency to let his temper get the best of him causing him to be somewhat volatile in situations which get his dander up. For instance he punches out a beer man who kicks Jean’s dog after the dog had caused him to spill his load. However Jimmie has impressed his boss Mr. Schauber (Willard Robertson) into promoting him to a management position. This happens on the same day on which he’s made a date with Jean who also finds out on that same day that the European doctor who can fix her leg is coming to America. Dr. Spear tells Jean and Joan that they’ll need only $500 for hospital expenses to correct her handicap. Joan tells Jean that between them and some money Gus has they have enough for the operation.

In order to take Jean out on the date Jimmie gets a co-worker (Edward Brophy uncredited) to lend him the keys to company car a convertible. Joan provides Jean with galoshes to hide her unsightly shoe (& condition) from Jimmie and she successfully avoids dancing with him that night on which they both fall in love for one another. However when Jimmie returns the car to the garage he discovers that Jean’s dog is hiding in the back seat; it barks and alerts the night watchman. Jimmie retrieves the dog and tries to elude the night watchman by hiding in an office which unbeknownst to him is being burglarized. While pursuing Jimmie the night watchman is knocked out by a white shoed burglar who is attacked by Jean’s dog such that Jimmie notices a silver dollar tattoo on the back of the right hand of the man he assumed was the night watchman. So he successfully escapes with the dog unaware of the burglary.

When returning the dog to Jean Jimmie discovers her condition but vows his true love for her regardless of her condition. For some reason Jean never tells Jimmie about her pending operation. The night watchman was able to identify Jimmie and unable to convince Mr. Schauber of his innocence he is arrested for stealing $400. Convinced of his innocence and out of her love for Jimmie Jean takes her operation money to Schauber to ask that he have the charges against her boyfriend dropped such that he can be released. Even though Schauber agrees to her confidentiality agreement (she doesn’t want Jimmie to know that she’s bailed him out) Schauber’s secretary (Muriel Evans) spills the beans to Jimmie jealously telling him that Jean didn’t even believe he was innocent. So the volatile Jimmie breaks his relationship with Jean vowing to repay the debt and leaves on a ship to earn the dough.

The rest of the film involves Joan finally agreeing to try one of Gus’s get rich quick schemes so that they can raise the money for Jean’s operation while the European doctor is still in the U.S. with comical results … and of course the requisite Hollywood happy ending for all. Directed and co-written by David Butler.

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