Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wife vs. Secretary (1936)

Wife vs. Secretary
Director: Clarence Brown
USA 1936
88 min

YouTube link

Actually, the title of the film tell most of the plot: The wife (Myrna Loy as Linda) of a publishing executive in the marketing business (Clark Gable as Van) starts to suspect that her husband might be a little too interested in his secretary (Jean Harlow as Whitey). One misunderstanding lead to another, one glance with double meanings - and the carousel is up and running.

I was surprised by this neat little drama/comedy. It started off as a nice and entertaining film (with a very energetic Clark Gable!), Myrna Loy as a happy wife (not an unusual character for her part, but she does it so well!) and Jean Harlow as the capable and attractive secretary with a wonderful attitude. I was also glad to see a young James Stewart (as Dave) in a supporting role, as the admirer of Whitey/Harlow.
However, when the film started to reach its climax I was sitting in the edge of my chair. The dialogue had been witty all the time, the actors/actresses great - but now it had reached a new level. The most clever, awesome lines were spoken, the greatest non-speaking acting since the silent films filled up the scenes... I can't explain, but I felt that I was really in this film with the actors.
And Myrna Loy is not only a comical genius, she knew the drama as well.


[kisses Linda while her eyes are closed]
Van: Guess who!
Linda: Hmm... Simpson?
Van: No!
[kisses her again]
Van: Try again!
Linda: Finny.
Van: No!
[kisses her again]
Van: Try again!
Linda: I give up.
[opens her eyes as they laugh and embrace]
Linda: Oh! It's a husband!

Van: There's an old Chinese proverb that says if you want to keep a man honest, never call him a liar.

Mimi, Van's mother: [comforting Linda] My dear, men are like that. So honorable and wise in some things and just like naughty children in others. You wouldn't blame a little boy for stealing a piece of candy if left alone with a whole boxful, will you?

Helen 'Whitey' Wilson: [To Linda] You're a fool, for which I am grateful.

[last lines]
Dave: Gosh, all the fighting and worrying people do, it always seems to be about one thing. They don't seem to trust each other. Well, I've found this out. Don't look for trouble where there isn't any, because if you don't find it, you'll make it. Just believe in someone.


Elizabeth said...

This was such a good movie! I'm glad you did a post on it!

Keith said...

Great post and pictures. I really enjoyed it. I saw this film years ago. I loved it so much. Take care.

Kate Gabrielle said...

Lovely post-- I love the "Oh! It's a husband" line.. I'll have to try that one out when I'm married :)

Lolita said...

And I'm glad to please someone! Thank you.

Thank you for the kind words, Keith! It always makes me happy when people comment just to tell me that they've read my posts! You take care!

Kate Gabrielle:
Haha, I laughed a lot at that scene. The chemistry between Gable and Loy is fantastic, all their lines seem so natural.
I'll do that too! Whenever my boyfriend finds it suiting to propose to me...

Christopher said...

"oh its a husband"...that scene sounds like it could happen in any one of the Thin Man films..I laughed out loud when I read it! :o))

Raquelle said...

I really like this movie too! The only thing that makes me sad is that it's an example of how they were trying to tone down Jean Harlow's sexiness. Boo!

Lolita said...

Haha, that joke is as clear as a bell.

Yeah, and that Hays Code thing does not make things any more exciting. But I was impressed of how they got the sexual tension between Gable and Harlow to reach out - for example when she sits on his bed and the camera flips between their eyes looking at each other. I felt a little jittery! Haha.