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High Pressure [William Powell]

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High Pressure (1931) starring William Powell, Evelyn Dale, George Sidney, Frank McHugh


In High Pressure William Powell’s a likeable rogue. He plays a garrulous promoter selling investors on a scheme to make synthetic rubber – from sewage!

Review of High Pressure

There’s frankly a lot to recommend High Pressure. William Powell plays a likeable rogue named Gar Evans. He’s the sort of high pressure salesman who could sell ice cubes to Eskimos, and have them thank him. Here, he’s trying to sell a different product — artificial rubber made from sewage.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But his steadfast friend Mike Donahey (Frank McHugh) assures him it is not a scam. Mike introduces Ginsburg to him (after sobering his friend up), and Gar’s creative mind is soon in high gear. Renting an entire floor of an office building, ordering furniture, and hiring his first employees. He doesn’t have the inventor of the process to turn sewage into rubber, but that’s a mere detail! It’s very fast paced and fairly madcap. But Gar’s missing one essential ingredient: Francine.

Francine Dale (Evelyn Brent) is Gar’s girlfriend … and good-luck charm. He’s convinced that he can’t pull this off without her. And, at first, she wants nothing to do with him … After he jilted her at the wedding altar, who can blame her? But when she sees his attractive new secretary, that’s just enough jealousy to get her on board.

The comedy moves quickly, and more people are introduced to the swindle … I mean, enterprise. Clifford Gray (Guy Kibbee) as the titular head of the company, and salesmen to sell stock. Lots of salesmen to sell the so-far-imaginary product. Unless they can actually find the inventor.

I won’t give away the ending, except to say that it shows that Gar has a conscience, and won’t let other people suffer. And, that behind every cloud there’s a silver lining.

I truly enjoyed High Pressure and I hope that you do too.

Cast of characters

  • Gar Evans (William Powell, My Man Godfrey). The likable rogue, the central character and protagonist. He’s not actually a crook — although he comes powerfully close. He can sell virtually anything to virtually anyone. Except (sometimes) for Francine.
  • Francine Dale (Evelyn Dale, The Seventh Victim). Gar’s long-suffering girlfriend and good luck charm. She knows Gar for what he is … a dreamer combined with a high pressure salesman. He left her standing at the wedding altar once. Is she fool enough to listen to him again? Love makes people do foolish things …
  • Colonel Ginsburg (George Sidney, Manhatten Melodrama). The man who brings the idea of recycling sewage into rubber to Gar. An honest man … to whom Gar gives the title of “Colonel” for marketing purposes. And soon, he’s up to his neck in the business …
  • Mike Donahey (Frank McHugh, Miss Grant Takes Richmond). Gar’s best friend and right hand man.
  • Helen Wilson (Evalyn Knapp, Perils of Pauline). The pretty young secretary that Gar hires. Francine’s jealousy of her is what makes Francine join Gar’s latest venture. And Helen has a jealous boyfriend as well …
  • Clifford Gray (Guy Kibbee, Joy of Living). The president (in name only) of the company that Gar creates. A figurehead (and comedy relief) whose only job is to give speeches, to induce more people to buy stock in the company.
  • Dr. Rudolph Pfeiffer (Harry Beresford, David Copperfield 1935). The scientist who actually created the sewage-to-rubber process. If only they can find him! And is he all that he’s cracked up to be … or a crackpot?
  • Mr. Banks (Charles Middleton, Flash Gordon). The man representing the existing rubber manufacturers, who offers to buy Gar out. And is rebuffed. Initially …


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