Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Big Business Girl (1931)

I've recently had the opportunity to check out the Warner Archive streaming service, where all sorts of interesting titles are available on a rotating basis.

Regular readers know I love Loretta Young, so it's perhaps no surprise that the first film I chose to stream was Young's BIG BUSINESS GIRL (1931), which I'd never seen before.

BIG BUSINESS GIRL isn't yet available on DVD, so Warner Archive's streaming service is the only way to catch it, outside of it turning up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies. It's an entertaining pre-Code with 18-year-old (!) Loretta at her most beautiful.

Loretta plays Claire "Mac" MacIntyre, a new college graduate who's determined to get a good job and pay her off her college bills. In short order she lands a job in an advertising agency, where Robert Clayton (Ricardo Cortez) sees her potential -- and admires her legs -- and quickly promotes her from secretary to (underpaid) ad exec.

While Mac is working -- and dealing with sexism and her boss's passes -- her boyfriend Johnny (Frank Albertson), a band leader, takes a job in Paris. When Johnny comes home, he gets the wrong idea about Mac's relationship with her boss.

Complications ensue...enter Joan Blondell as a hired co-respondent who's going to help the couple get a divorce. (Yep, a's sprung on both Loretta's boss and the audience that the couple has been married all along!)

It's a middling pre-Code, not as interesting as some, but better than others. The main drawback is Albertson as whiny Johnny, who's a success as a band leader yet has trouble remaining in a job consistently enough for his wife's happiness. He's not especially appealing, but Loretta certainly sells her character's love for him.

The camera loved Loretta, and that's reason enough to watch this, but it's also fun watching her navigate the business world. She's not above using her looks to get ahead, but then must draw the line to hold off her boss, who becomes so frustrated with her lack of interest that he finally proposes -- saying if they get married maybe he can finally fall out of love with her! (Not one of the more romantic proposals...) A couple years later Young and Cortez would costar in the outstanding MIDNIGHT MARY (1933) for William Wellman.

Blondell only shows up in the last ten minutes or so, but she's worth the wait, with plenty of sarcastic one-liners as she helps steer the film to its conclusion.

Young and Blondell were two of the most enjoyable actresses of the pre-Code era, and their fans will probably find BIG BUSINESS GIRL worth the watch.

BIG BUSINESS GIRL was directed by William A. Seiter and filmed by Sol Polito. It runs 75 minutes.

In addition to BIG BUSINESS GIRL, Warner Archive currently has two dozen additional pre-Codes available for streaming, as well as numerous films from other genres and several TV series. The majority of the offerings are from the "classic era," but there are also some relatively recent movies and TV shows.

Captioning was available for the movie I watched, a nice plus for those who find that service helpful.

Look for additional reviews from Warner Archive streaming here in the future!

Thanks to Warner Archive for providing reviewer access to their streaming service. Warner Archive is available on desktop at as well as via Roku, Apple TV, and iOS and Android apps.


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