Thursday, July 21, 2011

She Married Her Boss (1935)

Gregory La Cava directed some of the seminal films of the 1930s, My Man Godfrey and Stage Door being the first that usually come to mind. I also enjoy some of this director's lesser known stuff including the pleasing 1935 romp She Married Her Boss. Claudette Colbert plays a driven, highly effective executive secretary who is in love with her boss (Melvyn Douglas). In order to get him to notice her as a woman she agrees to straighten out his chaotic domestic affairs, including a stroppy, bratty child, an overwrought sister and a pack of disagreeable, dishonest servants. After she sorts out his life, he marries her as a reward. You know, just like real life. She expects romance to come eventually but instead her man is even more of a workaholic than before, partly because she's no longer in the office keeping things in order.

What's a girl to do? Well, if it'a 1930s film, in this situation, the best thing to do is to run off with Robert Montgomery, play piano, drink, dance and get caught by the press in a compromising situation. If Robert Montgomery is unavailable, than a Robert Montgomery-type should be enlisted to be the good-time Charlie, friend with benefits. Such is the case in She Married her Boss and a justifiably forgotten Michael Bartlett plays the boyfriend. I found myself longing for Melvyn Douglas to play the good-time Charlie because he does those types of roles so well. (See Angel, Ninotchka, etc.) Here, Douglas is stuck playing the Herbert Marshall type. If we had Herbert Marshall and Melvyn Douglas then we'd really have something. Fantasy football casting aside, this is still a fun, if predictable film. Nothing here to threaten the greatness of Godfrey atop the La Cava canon, but still not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.

My biggest beef with this film is the insipid, oft-repeated idea that a woman's first job is marriage. They were running along nicely with the idea that Colbert's character was indispensable at home AND at work, when they suddenly decided work wasn't important. What? Maybe it was Hollywood's way of pandering to the unemployed to make out that a job wasn't that important. Or maybe it was pandering to the production code which suddenly meant that women couldn't work and be happy any more. At any rate, Colbert is stuck at home, trying to look feminine in a lot of hideous lace collars and I just want the snappy, competent, well-dressed Gal Friday back.

Colbert was at the height of her powers coming off It Happened One Night, the year before. Sexism, bad clothes and anemic scripts can't hold her back. She just shines. And Douglas has the good sense as he always did when acting with magnificent, talented actresses like Garbo and Dietrich, to just get out of the way and let her carry the show.

12 comments:

Sarah said...

Well hello!
I love the scene when Douglas lets loose a little and gets drunk with his butler Franklin (played by Walburn who always reminds me of a refined Guy Kibbe). When they saddle out to the foyer and forget to catch Gertrude in another of her fake fainting spells- I lost it. Priceless.
As for the issue of a woman's capability and RIGHT to work- the worst I have seen that totally exploits this subject (negatively) is Men Are Suchs Fools (painful) and The Bride Walks Out (et tu, Stanwyk?)

VP81955 said...

In that era (1930s, early '40s), married working women were deemed a threat to the economy (assuming the husband was employed) because they were ostensibly taking jobs away from households that needed work. Think of the scene in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" where Ann (Carole Lombard's character) goes to work in a department store after a legal technicality invalidates her marriage to David (Robert Montgomery), only to be tossed off the job when David enters the store and claims she is his wife. (The store's policy is not to hire married women. Do that today, and lawsuits and pickets rule the day.) Things changed as a result of Pearl Harbor, but until then a married woman who worked (and wasn't a film star!) was perceived as an anomaly.

BTW, speaking of Lombard, my blog is holding its first blogathon, "Carole-tennial(+3)!" for the 103rd anniversary of Carole's birth on Oct. 6. We'd love to have you participate; learn more at http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/427564.html

SteveQ said...

Look who's back! Yay, Nipper!

I haven't seen this film in 30 years, so I have nothing to add, except that I'm going to have to take another look at the La Cava canon.

btw, my film blog try got exactly 7 hits in 6 weeks, so I deleted it.

Karen said...

I really enjoyed reading your post! I've never seen this movie, but I will be searching it out.

Craig Wingard said...

I've never seen this film, but your post has me wanting to. Thanks for the great post.

Ana Marie said...

Thank you for your ideas and information about this topic, my students will definitely this information. Please do continue improving your essay writing writing skills, and hopefully share all the knowledge that you would learn.

Mari said...

look.....http://www.promptessay.com/
Interesting information and cute writing style.This is a cool read ..

Алексей Бондарчук said...

Thanks for this! www.masterpapers.com I would like to see more post like this!

Fred Duffler said...

Thanks for sharing the story ! http://www.online-essay-writer.org/ Very interesting!

Alyssa Emilee said...

Thanks for sharing your story its really informative and i love this story very much. Thank you for providing this information.
bankruptcy san diego

sandie gobk said...

Thanks for sharing your story its really informative and i love this story very much. Thank you for providing this information. bankruptcy san diego

Linda Walker said...

With what can be provided to those who need and I believe that your website is good. friv 8