Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tonight's Movie: More Than a Secretary (1936)

MORE THAN A SECRETARY is a lightweight, mildly entertaining trifle. Jean Arthur plays Carol, the owner of a secretarial school whose students all seem to be using the school as a matrimonial agency, going on to find themselves husbands in the business world. When Carol lays eyes on Fred (George Brent), a magazine editor who would like to hire a secretary, she falls for him and decides to take the job and hope for matrimony herself.

The movie is an interesting mix of up-to-date and very outdated ideas. Fred edits a fitness magazine, BODY AND BRAIN, and is somewhat obsessed with healthy living, munching carrots at his desk and even instituting exercise breaks for the office staff. Seven decades later, that aspect of the plot seems very timely.

On the other hand, reference to a woman "knowing her place in the business world" certainly causes the modern viewer's eyes to roll -- although it must be noted that despite such antiquated attitudes, when Carol's value is recognized, she is given a nice title and promotion!

The two leads are pleasing, and the film breezes by quickly. It's pleasantly undemanding entertainment, as well as a good example of Depression Era "Cinderella" escapism. Worth seeing if one is a fan of Arthur or Brent.

MORE THAN A SECRETARY was directed by Alfred E. Green. It's a black and white movie which runs 78-80 minutes. The supporting cast includes Lionel Stander, Reginald Denny, Ruth Donnelly, and Dorothea Kent.

This film is part of the Turner Classic Movies library. It isn't currently available on VHS or DVD. A Jean Arthur boxed DVD set would sure be nice...

Update: There is now a wonderful Jean Arthur set from the TCM Vault Collection, the Jean Arthur Comedy Collection, and it includes MORE THAN A SECRETARY.


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