Wife vs. Secretary Reviews
I have to say, for a good part of the movie, it seemed reasonably good but somewhat false - the chemistry between Gable and Loy is just "ok", and the straight and narrow course Gable and Harlow take and the overall message of needing to trust in one's relationship seemed somehow influenced by the Hays Code to me.
On the positive side, both Gable and Harlow are in roles outside of their usual typecasting, including Harlow with her natural hair color. Harlow also stands up to Stewart's requests that she quit her job to focus on family (hooray especially for 1936!), and Harlow confronting Loy and ultimately sacrificing herself is a good scene. And, on top of all that, the very best scene is between Gable and Harlow, after they've been drinking in Havana following closing a deal they had worked on over sleepless nights. Innocence aside, there is a moment of truth when she's in the same hotel room in the wee hours, untying his shoes. Their conflicted stares are priceless and communicate brilliantly without words, until Harlow says at last "we've had an awful lot to drink". That scene alone makes the film worth watching, and shows Harlow's ability and potential to grow even further. How sad she would die the following year at the age of 26! As for this film -- the script is good, not great, but the screen presences here surely are.
There was a point where it came dangerously close to trespassing upon
cinematic discretion; where one began to believe the possibility of the
film's purported bane coming to fruition. The tension in the film is
created by exactly that -- tension. Adjacently, the strength of the story
is in the misunderstanding. If wife's suspicion is justified, that
removes the misunderstanding, & undercuts that which carried the movie
to that point, ruining it, entirely. Thankfully, it held me in concern just long enough to show me that they understood what they were doing.
It would rank much higher if the mother didn't give Myrna Loy the worst piece of advice I've ever heard. Basically, 'I know you're upset, but you can't blame a man for cheating, can you? That's what they do." ...huh?!
Otherwise, it's an exceptional story.
The chemistry between Gable and Loy is just amazing, as the chemistry between Gable and Harlow (this was after all their fourth out of six movies they did together).
Clark Gable is playing V.S., magazine publisher Van Stanhope who is living a nice and carefree life, married to the lovely Linda (Myrna Loy). Their marriage sparkle like never before, that is until Mimi, Linda's mother-in-law, starts giving Linda warnings that Van might be just like his father; a hopeless ladies' man!, and that she better put a watching eye on her husband's sexy blonde secretary, Whitey (Jean Harlow).
James Stewart (who only appeared in a few scenes in this movie as "Whitey's" boyfriend) once said that he failed in the kissing scene with Jean Harlow on purpose, because he enjoyed so much to do it again and again, since she was such a great kisser!
Though many people consider this movie much weaker than the "follow up movie"; Libeled Lady (with Loy, Harlow, William Powell & Spencer Tracy), I must reserve myself to say something until I have revisited Libeled Lady once again.
I however think there are many screwball comedies besides the big ones (Adam's Rib, His Girl Friday, My Man Godfrey, Bringing Up Baby, The Awful Truth, The Lady Eve, It Happened One Night for example...) that are being overlooked and underrated. And I think Wife vs. Secretary belongs to that underrated category.
Some more "spice" to the plot, and this would have been a 80%-movie for me.
"Mimi: My dear, men are like that. So honorable and wise in some things and just like naughty children in others. You wouldn't blame a little boy for stealing a piece of candy if left alone with a whole boxful, will you?"
Vin and Linda are a happily married couple. Vin is a successful publisher who is recently assigned a gorgeous secretary to work under him. The secretary is in a strange relationship with an insecure boyfriend. Almost immediately after working together, Linda become jealous of the secretary, and the secretary's boyfriend becomes jealous of Vin. How will this strange triangle pan out?
"Whenever you trick me into marrying you I'll wear the pants."
Clarence Brown, director of When in Rome, To Please a Lady, Intruder in the Dust, The Yearling, They Met in Bombay, Come Live with Me, Chained, and Emma, delivers Wife vs. Secretary. The storyline for this picture is just okay. The characters are fairly predictable and the conflicts are straightforward. The acting is excellent as the cast includes Clarke Gable, James Stewart, Jean Harlow, and Myrna Loy.
"We've been thrown out of better offices where they have better Scotch."
I recently caught a Jean Harlow movie at the American Film Institute (AFI) and decided to DVR a couple of her pictures. This one grabbed my attention due to its magnificent cast. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't require a cast of this stature. It was still fun to watch each actor in their role, but there isn't much special here that differentiates this film from others in its genre.
"May I borrow your husband?"