Directed by Sam Taylor • 1934 • United States
Starring Harold Lloyd, Una Merkel, George Barbier
Introduction: This film has been programmed as part of the series Hollywood Chinese, a survey on the history of Chinese representation in American cinema, curated by filmmaker Arthur Dong. He notes: “Racial slurs, grotesque yellowface makeup, and gibberish Chinese dialogue are peppered throughout THE CAT’S PAW, which the Chinese government banned for its denigrating depictions of the Chinese and Chinese culture. For me, this is one of Hollywood’s most offensive portrayals of the Chinese, partly because it starred and was produced by Harold Lloyd, an otherwise beloved American comedian.” For further context, we recommend watching Mr. Dong’s series introduction and his documentary HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, now playing on the Channel.
Silent-comedy legend Harold Lloyd’s fourth sound film is an outlandish, Capraesque political satire in which he plays Ezekiel Cobb, a naive young man raised by missionaries in China, who is brought to America to help a corrupt political boss by running for mayor of a California town as a dummy candidate. Things don’t go according to plan, however, when the idealistic Cobb wins the election and sets out to reform the city—enlisting the help of the local Chinese American community in his quest.