Scriptwriters: Laurence Stallings, John Lee Mahin, Buster Keaton, Leon Gordon, Howard Emmett Rogers, Maureen Dallas Watkins, Len Hammond
Director: Jack Conway
Director of photography: Harold Rosson
Composer: Franz Waxman
Cast: Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Walter Connolly, Leo Carrillo, Johnny Hines, Marjorie Maine, Henry Kolker
Many film actors in the 1930s dreamed of becoming graduates of “the Harvard of Hollywood” – the MGM studios. However, this studio was also famous for its strict production control.
Jack Conway, the director of “Too Hot to Handle”, agreed with this policy completely. After signing a contract with MGM in 1925, he remained at the studio until 1948 and directed about 50 films there during this time, consistently producing 2 to 3 films a year. After going through the Belasco School of Broadway, having been an assistant and actor in the films of D.W. Griffith, at the beginning of his career he already acquired everything that would be known for later: a loud voice, a clear understanding of the task at hand, the ability to shoot quickly and fit into the proposed budget. Griffith, however, once said that Conway would never become a director, as he was too artistic and too worried about camera effects, forgetting about tempo and rhythm. Conway would remember these words for the rest of his life. Having become a competent craftsman, he would make films in a variety of genres: high society dramas, westerns, melodramas, costumes and war films, and adventure films filled with colonial exoticism. In each of them, he would take care, first of all, about movement and rhythm, which is why, even in his last works, one can sometimes sense a legacy of silent cinema.
This is also noticeable in “Too Hot to Handle” (original title “Let’ Em All Talk”). Before it went into production, his script had gone through so many different writers that it ended up being cumbersome and seemingly falling apart in two. The first part is devoted to the confrontation between two reporters during the war in China and their struggle for the attention of the famous pilot Alma Harding (played by Myrna Loy), and the second one is about the adventures in South America, where the heroes go in search of the missing brother of the leading lady. But where for another director this gap would be noticeable and would ruin the whole film, for Conway - thanks to his sense of rhythm - its looks just like some oddity in a plot twist.
The filming process was long and difficult. Initially, Spencer Tracy was slated for the main male part, and Margaret Sullivan for the main female part. But Tracy was soon replaced by his partner in the recently made “Test Pilot” Clark Gable and the same film provided the new one with Myrna Loy, for which it was her sixth and last film with Gable. The story of her heroine was based on the fate of Amelia Earhart, who had disappeared a few months before. The prototype of the main hero, in turn, was the famous Universal studios stringer Mike Gittinger. Due to the abundance of locations - Manila, Shanghai, New York, South America - the film crew was forced to split into several teams, and although much was filmed on sound stages, Conway insisted on filming on location - in Sherwood Forest (in California) and in Dutch Havana, where the entire second half of the film takes place. Gable himself was sent to the newsreel studio to get used to the role of a cameraman, and for two weeks he would go with the staff cameramen to all the news-filming assignments.
And, despite the fact that in the second half of the 1930s Gable had switched from his traditional roles of a gangster or of a cutthroat reporter to more respectable roles, the camera in his hands looked suspiciously like a gun. The film became a tribute to the courage and love of adventure of not only cameramen, but all filmmakers in general.
A cunning newsreel reporter, who will stop at nothing for a good shot, meets a famous woman pilot. Together with her, he goes to Africa in search of her aviator brother. He takes a movie camera with him on this expedition and does everything to be the first to film a movie scoop.