Gregory La Cava | Subjects | Structure and Story Telling | Visual Style

Films: Womanhandled

Classic Film and Television Home Page

Gregory La Cava

Gregory La Cava was a Hollywood film director.

Gregory La Cava: Subjects

Subjects in the films of Gregory La Cava: Animals:

Gregory La Cava: Structure and Story Telling

Story Structure:

Gregory La Cava: Visual Style

Geometry: Camera movement: Costumes:


Womanhandled (1925) is a silent comedy, a spoof of the Westerns that were so popular in its era.

Womanhandled assembles a wildly disparate group of characters at its ranch, and revels in their comic confrontation. This is a persistent approach in Gregory La Cava.

Womanhandled opens in a real place in Central Park. An interest in New York City runs through Gregory La Cava's work.

The Desperately Poor

Two tramps in Central Park form a sort of Greek Chorus throughout Womanhandled, commenting on the action. They anticipate the more extensive look at tramps and the homeless in My Man Godfrey. La Cava is plainly highly sympathetic to such characters.

When the hero meets the hungry tramps, he immediately gives them money for food. Today's Republicans, many hugely wealthy, would give these poor people lectures about how evil they are! Conservatives have really demonized the poor.

The Kind-Hearted Hero

The hero is an unusually kind-hearted man. He is always nice to others, and sometimes quite generous. Partly this is star Richard Dix, who convincingly played nice guys through his career. It is also director Gregory La Cava. The hero of My Man Godfrey is even more generous and kind.

Organizing Elite Groups

The hero of Womanhandled organizes the modern-day ranch hands of his uncle's ranch, into a group of traditional cowboys. This situation anticipates others in later La Cava films, ouch as the uniformed officials in Gabriel Over the White House and the finale of My Man Godfrey. In all three scenes: The politics of the three situations is drastically different: non-political comedy in Womanhandled, right-wing, near-Fascist politics in Gabriel Over the White House, left wing, New Deal attempts to help the unemployed in My Man Godfrey. It is rare to see a common situation given such different political associations as in these three films.

In his notes on the DVD of Womanhandled, film historian Scott Simmon refers to the hero's transformation as a "man-up". This 2000's slang is surprisingly apt and accurate as an account of Womanhandled, a film made 75 years before.