For Reel

The Office Wife (1930)
May 20, 2015, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lloyd Bacon
2.5 Stars
The Office WifeIn an unusual opening scene in this Warner Brothers comedy, a lesbian writer suggests the idea of an “office wife”–that is, when a businessman’s secretary becomes an even more dependable partner than his own wife. Anne Murdock (Dorothy Mackaill) is convinced she isn’t such a sap (she’s replacing a secretary who was hopelessly in love with her boss), but it’s not long before she finds out that she’s not the gold digger she thought she could be and she begins to fall for her publisher employer, Larry Fellowes (Lewis Stone). Mackaill has had a bit of resurgence in recent years thanks to the rediscovery of William A. Wellman’s pre-Code masterpiece Safe in Hell, but The Office Wife doesn’t see her at her best. For one, she’s paired with the woefully miscast Stone, who lacks the sex appeal that a Warren William might have brought to the part. Furthermore, she’s too genuine and sensitive a performer to even play at the suggestion of being a simple gold digger, and unfortunately for her she was cast alongside a sexy, brazen newcomer named Joan Blondell. In one of her first film roles, Blondell shines in what would be a protypical part for her in the early 1930s–she delivers sassy one-liners in various states of undress, stealing the show with her immodest, shameless energy.

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