Thursday, January 28, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Her Husband's Secretary (1937)

HER HUSBAND'S SECRETARY (1937) is an enjoyable 61-minute romantic melodrama starring Jean Muir and Warren Hull.

Muir, who starred in the delightful DESIRABLE (1934), plays Carol, who works as a secretary for Steve Gannon (Addison Richards). She's enthusiastically pursued by Bart Kingdon (Warren Hull), a riveter on a neighboring skyscraper project who pops through her office window, many stories off the ground, just to ask her for a date.

The movie makes some big leaps forward in time, from Carol and Bart's first date to a scene where Carol informs her boss she's leaving to be married. Carol has a surprise ahead: She thinks she's marrying a working-class riveter but when Bart takes her to visit his dying father (Harry Davenport), it's revealed that the Kingdons are quite wealthy and Bart is heir to a major construction business. He's been intent on learning the industry from the ground up -- or maybe we should say from the sky down, given that he was working atop skyscrapers!

Carol is deeply in love and deliriously happy with her husband and new life, and all goes along swimmingly until Bart hires Carol's former roommate Diane (Beverly Roberts) as his secretary. Bart's Aunt Gussie (Clara Blandick) warns Carol that it's not good for her husband to spend so many hours in the company of another beautiful woman, but Carol trusts both her husband and her friend. Until...things start seeming a little off, with Bart spending more and more time away on business, and Carol starts to wonder...

This is a fast-paced and enjoyable short film. I liked both Muir and Hull as the leads, and the story is told in an interesting way, dramatizing some key moments in the couple's lives while skipping over others entirely.

Only two things surprised me: The first is that Diane betrays Carol and sets out to lure Bart away from Carol for her own benefit, and the second is that Bart falls for it! It's hard to believe, if only because he has the charming Muir waiting at home, while I've never seen Roberts (CHINA CLIPPER, THE DAREDEVIL DRIVERS) be anything other than cold and chilly on screen. Maybe I just haven't run into a warm Roberts performance, but I have yet to see her appeal. Here she's simply brittle and calculating.

The big question is what Carol will do about it when her husband straight-out confesses to loving his wife but being attracted to another woman, though any thought of a fling with Diane is now over.

It's all resolved in just over an hour, with a dramatic forest fire sequence thrown in for good measure!  

The supporting cast includes Joseph Crehan, Minerva Urecal, and Pauline Garon. The movie was directed by Frank McDonald and filmed by Arthur Todd.

This film is not available on DVD, but it turns up from time to time on Turner Classic Movies.


Blogger barrylane said...

With regard to Beverly Roberts, she is so not beautiful it is amazing he played leading lady parts at any level, most notably opposite George Brent in God's Country and Woman, but only because Bette Davis, another less than beautiful face, turned it down. Despite her lack of obvious charm, she has confidence, which is the secret ingredient. As for Warren Hull, I was always surprised he did not make it into the top tier; when I was ten of twelve he was on television as game show host of Strike it Rich, possibly others, and always welcome.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Love the feedback on Beverly Roberts. Interesting insight on her confidence.

I haven't seen Hull in a great many films but he was in a favorite short domestic melodrama, PERSONAL MAID'S SECRET (1935), and I find him personable. I'll be watching for his name to show up in other movies. I wasn't aware of his TV work and appreciated the info.

Best wishes,

6:14 PM  

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