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Friday, April 29, 2011

Wife Versus Secretary (1936)

A magazine publisher (Clark Gable) is happily married to his wife (Myrna Loy) of three years. But gossip mongers and do gooders plant the seed of distrust in her ear that his secretary (Jean Harlow) may be more than just a secretary. Slowly, her trust in him begins to unravel as circumstantial evidence points to his being unfaithful. Directed by Clarence Brown, it's an earnest cautionary tale out of MGM without the zing that its notable cast promises, James Stewart is in it too as Harlow's dull boyfriend. The most interesting character is Harlow's secretary and while it's nice to see Harlow playing something other than a brassy, wisecracking blonde, robbed of her strong sexual presence she comes across as rather bland. There's something off putting about the predatory innuendo inflicted on Loy from so called friends and family (even mother in law May Robson tells her to get rid of the secretary) that's never fully explored. Still, the star wattage of its four leads is almost enough to keep you hooked to the screen. With Gloria Holden and John Qualen.

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