Thursday, September 14, 2006


Fairly lame pre-Code office romance melodrama, worth catching only for Mary Astor. She plays a secretary at a paper company who is secretly holding a torch for traveling salesman Robert Ames. She helps further his career by feeding him tips, and when the big boss retires, Astor not only talks a banker into selling the company to the employees, she also gets a big raise for Ames. Six months later, Ames is president, but we see that Astor, as his secretary, is really the driving force behind the company, though certainly underappreciated by the rather slimy Ames, who is either willfully unaware of her romantic interest or just doesn't care. In the meantime, Astor has been pursued by wealthy but married Ricardo Cortez; they meet cute playing Blindman's Bluff and Truth or Dare at a party and, though he says he's separated, she still avoids getting in too deep. Ames has a trampy mistress (Edna Murphy) whom he hires as a secretary, even though she's incompetent, but eventually he gets engaged to the ritzy Catherine Dale Owen, leaving both Astor and Murphy behind. In the rather frustrating but predictable finale, Astor winds up with Ames, though he still doesn't really seem to appreciate her. Astor is fine, as is Cortez who gives his playboy character a sheen of genuine charm which helps make him a bit more sympathetic than the average "rich guy who loses the girl" in movies of the era. The real problem with the movie is leading man Ames, who when he filmed this was just about a year away from an untimely death at the age of 42 from alcoholism. It is difficult to see anything redeeming about his character--he's not handsome, he's not charming, and he really never fully appreciates Astor--and I was rooting for Cortez to win out. [TCM]

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