Friday, January 23, 2009

Tonight's Movie: She Married Her Boss (1935)

Julia Scott (Claudette Colbert) is an ultra-efficient executive secretary who has pined for her boss Richard (Melvyn Douglas) for years. Richard considers Julia indispensable to running his department stores, but otherwise doesn't seem to notice her. When Julia threatens to leave, Richard finds he can't do without her and proposes marriage; however, to Julia's disappointment, it's a marriage in name only. Will Julia regret that SHE MARRIED HER BOSS?

Claudette Colbert sparkles as quick-witted Julia in this very amusing comedy. The scenes in which she puts Richard's home life to rights, tangling with his neurotic sister (Katharine Alexander) and outsmarting his obnoxious little girl (Edith Fellows), are absolutely delightful. Colbert also has a drunk scene in a department store window display which is quite funny. In short, it's Colbert's movie all the way, and indeed, she's on screen for most of the film's running time.

Melvyn Douglas has less to do as Colbert's obtuse husband, although he finally has a fun scene of his own when he gets drunk with his loyal butler (Raymond Walburn). My main criticism of the film is that while Colbert's character is an open book, emotionally speaking, the script allows viewers to see little of the development of Richard's feelings for Julia. The abrupt ending accentuates this and robs viewers of a more romantic denouement.

That said, there is a great deal to like in what is, for the most part, a delightful comedy with an excellent cast. '30s favorite Jean Dixon (MY MAN GODFREY, JOY OF LIVING, HOLIDAY) plays Colbert's best friend. Dixon left films after 1938's HOLIDAY, marrying in 1940 and living till 1981. It's a shame she didn't make more movies, as she's one of those actresses, like Helen Broderick or Eve Arden, whose wisecracks enliven any film in which she appears.

Michael Bartlett, Clara Kimball Young, and Franklin Pangborn are also in the cast. The movie runs 85 minutes and was filmed in black and white. The film was directed by Gregory La Cava, whose credits include MY MAN GODFREY (1936), STAGE DOOR (1937), and 5TH AVE GIRL (1939).

I felt critic Leonard Maltin, who gave the film 2-1/2 stars, underrated the film by at least half a star.

On the other hand, Stephen Scheuer gives the film 3-1/2 stars, calling the film an "unjustly neglected classic comedy" and the two lead actors "impeccable." I'm not certain I'd go as high as 3-1/2 stars, but I definitely lean much more toward Scheuer's assessment than Maltin's in this instance.

SHE MARRIED HER BOSS was shown on Turner Classic Movies. It does not appear to have had a video release, nor is it available on DVD. You can vote to indicate interest in a DVD release at the TCM page linked in this paragraph.


Blogger Marilyn said...

This is where I fell in love with Melvyn Douglas. Marilyn

10:42 PM  

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