Thursday, April 06, 2006


Tyrone Power never got much of a chance to do light romantic comedy, and based on the evidence of this movie, that's a shame because he does a fine job here. The film begins with Power, the president of a roofing company, and his wife, Linda Darnell, celebrating their second anniversary. Well, she's ready to celebrate, but he's forgotten all about it. She arranges a big party but when his secretary calls to say that Power has to work late, Darnell, with the egging-on of her friend Binnie Barnes, takes the party downtown to the office only to find the place empty except for a couple of cleaning ladies. It turns out that Power is seeing his secretary (Wendy Barrie) on the sly, so Darnell decides to find out for herself why men are so attracted to their hired help. She gets a job as secretary to a married architect (Warren William) who, sure enough, quickly puts the moves on her. Then, of course, there are some screwball touches: first, Darnell has to master the after-work quick change, from work clothes to home loungewear, so Power doesn't catch on to her secret life; later, she discovers that her boss and her husband are working together on a project so she has to do even more fancy footwork so she doesn't get caught. Eventually, of course, the bosses and the secretaries collide at a nightclub, and later that evening, at William's penthouse, his wife arrives to add to the comic confusion. The happy ending feels a little forced, not least because, thanks to the Production Code, it's never made clear how far along Power and Barrie's affair had gotten (a similar problem hampers the Cary Grant/Irene Dunne comedy THE AWFUL TRUTH), though it's clear that Darnell doesn't cheat with William. Power isn't in Grant's league as a comic actor, but very few actors are, and Power acquits himself nicely, remaining relatively sympathetic and never sliding into frantic shtick or taking attention away from the other actors. He and Darnell make a nice pair and everyone else is just fine. The sets, all huge white art deco-ish spaces, are fun and give the movie an expensive look. The best line comes from Darnell's maid (Mildred Gover): when Darnell complains about her quick changes between work and dinner and wonders how stage actresses deal with it, Gover replies, "They usually takes to drink." Fun and frothy. [FMC]

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