Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Personal Maid's Secret (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

This seems to be the weekend for short Warner Archive movies! Yesterday I watched the 57-minute EXPERIMENT ALCATRAZ (1950), and today I saw the 58-minute PERSONAL MAID'S SECRET (1935). Both films are available on DVD from the Warner Archive and are quite entertaining.

I really liked PERSONAL MAID'S SECRET when I first saw it over five years ago, and I was looking forward to seeing it again via the Warner Archive's brand-new release. If anything I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around! It's not a classic, to be sure, but it's an engaging "B" picture which provides a fast-moving, enjoyable hour.

Lizzie (Ruth Donnelly), a Park Avenue maid, leaves her current employer when they can't pay her salary. On an impulse Lizzie takes a lower-paying job with Joan Smith (Margaret Lindsay) as combination maid and housekeeper, simply because she likes Joan and thinks it might be nice to have full charge of a home for a change.

Time and again the Smiths stretch their budget to afford Lizzie and her many recommendations, on everything from silver to business entertaining to where to live, but Lizzie's recommendations always prove wise, as Jimmy Smith (Warren Hull) consequently sails up the career ladder. Before they know it, the Smiths are living a life of comfortable luxury.

Lizzie, meanwhile, has a personal problem: Thanks to a brief marriage to a wealthy young man during WWI, she is the mother of Diana Abercrombie (Anita Louise), who's been raised by her grandparents (Maude Gordon and Claude King) and doesn't have a clue that her mother is a lowly housekeeper. Lizzie gave up her daughter as she wanted her to have all the benefits of life as an Abercrombie without the stigma of her mother having been one of the servants.

Things get even more complicated when Joan's brother (Frank Albertson) falls head over heels for Diana.

Donnelly is pitch perfect in this, treating the Smiths' little boy (Ronnie Cosby) with kindness but being firm with both the Smiths and Diana about what she considers right and proper behavior. The domestic drama is balanced with lighthearted moments between Lizzie and her friend Owen (Arthur Treacher), a snooty butler, as they argue over what wines to serve with main dishes; beneath their arguing there's real fondness, and they consider a future together. Lizzie's influence with the Smiths is such that when she tells them it's time they hire a butler, they immediately hire Owen!

Everyone in the movie does a nice job; the cast also includes Henry O'Neill, always a welcome face, and future cowboy star Bill Elliott, billed here as Gordon Elliott. I need to put the disc back in and check for Dennis O'Keefe as a dinner guest! Time after time he and Bill Elliott turn up in small roles in the very same mid '30s movies.

I like this little film a lot and will definitely watch it again in the future. Anyone who enjoys this film's cast and a well-made programmer is sure to enjoy it.

PERSONAL MAID'S SECRET was directed by Arthur Greville Collins and filmed by future director Byron Haskin.

The Warner Archive DVD is a nice print. There are no extras.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Brittaney said...

I just saw this film recently and was pleasantly surprised. It's quite a treat they way it mixes humor and seriousness. I hope more people get the chance to see it.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to have another endorsement for this enjoyable film here, Brittaney! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Best wishes,

9:19 AM  

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