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High Pressure (film)

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High Pressure
Theatrical Film Poster
Directed byMervyn LeRoy
Screenplay byJoseph Jackson
Based onHot Money
by Aben Kandel
StarringWilliam Powell
CinematographyRobert Kurrle
Edited byRalph Dawson
Distributed byWarner Brothers
Release date
  • January 30, 1932 (1932-01-30)
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited States

High Pressure is a 1932 American pre-Code comedy film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring William Powell and Evelyn Brent.[1] It is based on the play Hot Money by Aben Kandel. The film is preserved at the Library of Congress and in the Warner Archive.[2]


Gar Evans (William Powell) agrees to promote Ginsburg's product, artificial rubber created from sewage, only after his friend Mike Donahey (Frank McHugh) assures him it is not a scam. Gar is superstitious; he believes he will only succeed if his long-suffering girlfriend Francine Dale (Evelyn Brent) joins them on the venture. She, however, has given up on him, especially since he left her five days before to pick up something, and never came back. It is only with great effort that he convinces her to give him another chance.

Gar quickly incorporates the "Golden Gate Artificial Rubber Company", rents a whole floor of a building, installs old crony Clifford Gray (Guy Kibbee) as president, gives Helen Wilson (Evalyn Knapp) a job as a secretary, and hires a lot of high-pressure salesmen to sell shares. As news spreads, natural rubber company stock prices start to fall, and Mr. Banks (Charles Middleton) offers to buy the company on behalf of the established rubber firms, but the bid is too low for Gar. Banks then threatens to get an injunction preventing sales of Gar's shares pending an investigation. Gar welcomes it.

However, Ginsburg (promoted to "Colonel" by Gar), has misplaced the inventor of the process, Dr. Rudolph Pfeiffer (Harry Beresford). When he is finally located and set to work making a sample, Gar invites scientists to inspect the finished product, only to discover that Pfeiffer is a deranged crackpot (his next invention involves hens laying pre-decorated Easter eggs). Francine quits in disgust and prepares to sail to South America and marry Señor Rodriguez. Despite his lawyer's advice to flee to another state, Gar insists on taking full responsibility.

Just as all seems lost, Banks offers to reimburse all the shareholders and pay Gar enough to make a $100,000 profit just to be rid of the whole mess (and restore natural rubber stock prices). Gar rushes to the dock to retrieve the Golden Gate controlling shares, which he had signed over to Francine. While there, he wins her back by promising to give up promoting, only to have Donahey show up with a scheme for Alaskan gold/marble/spruce wood. Soon, Gar is plotting his next campaign.



In his New York Times review, Mordaunt Hall described High Pressure as "a brightly written and constantly amusing film".[3] Hall noted that "William Powell is in his element" and "is an excellent type for this tale." Sidney and Kibbee were also praised for their performances.[3]


  1. ^ Hans J. Wollstein (2012). "High Pressure". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress p.79 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
  3. ^ a b Mordaunt Hall (February 1, 1932). "High Pressure (1932) William Powell Appears as a New Get-Rich-Quick Character". The New York Times.

Further reading

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High Pressure (film)
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