AFTER OFFICE HOURS is a congenial diversion just released this month by the Warner Archive.
Clark Gable plays his patented fast-talking newspaper editor, with Constance Bennett as a lovely, wealthy society dame who takes a job at the newspaper.
Jim (Gable) is initially skeptical of Sharon (Bennett), but he begins to see her value, as she provides an entree into high society news. When Sharon's friend Julia Patterson (Katharine Alexander) turns up murdered, Jim naturally wants Sharon's help on the case, but she's aghast that he suspects her friend Tommy Bannister (Harvey Stephens).
The movie is pretty much just a 72-minute ball of fluff, but sometimes that's exactly what you want to watch; that was definitely the case for me after having previously watched the deeply emotional THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945).
Gable is handsome and funny, Bennett is cool and lovely, and there's a terrific supporting cast led by Billie Burke. Burke is an absolute stitch, whether she's responding to Gable's flirting and calling her "Mother" ("He's never had a mother?") or suffering an agony of embarrassment when she learns from the butler that Jim and Sharon have been alone in the guest bedroom all night long!
The script by Herman Mankiewicz has some nice bits of dialogue ("If you were looking at what I'm looking at, you'd lie too"), and there's terrific set and fashion design, from the doors of Sharon's fancy apartment to the cheap diner where she eats ham and eggs, to Tommy's basement boathouse/den and Sharon's flashy "SN" brooch with her initials. Sharon's eye-catching gowns were designed by Adrian. It's a great-looking film.
I never was quite sure how Jim figured out the real murderer, but between the entertaining cast and all the eye candy, I didn't really care. It's lighthearted fun for fans of '30s romantic comedies and newspaper films.
Everyone's favorite movie "stalker," Bess Flowers, is the elegantly dressed woman sitting next to Constance Bennett in the lounge area of the Riverside Club.
Robert Z. Leonard directed, and it was filmed by Charles Rosher.
The print is occasionally speckled but for the most part the Warner Archive DVD looks and sounds terrific. The DVD includes the trailer.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.