For Reel

Big Business Girl (1931)
August 27, 2012, 6:31 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William A. Seiter

One of many films of the pre-Code era in which a driven woman makes it only so far up the corporate ladder before romance brings her back down to earth, Big Business Girl stars then 18-year-old Loretta Young as a woman who uses both her intelligence and sex appeal to find steady career progression in the advertising world. The problem is that she, unbeknownst to her wolfish boss played by Ricardo Cortez, is married to Frank Albertson, a bandleader who has taken a job in Paris. Cinematographer Sol Polito constructs an excellent opening sequence in which young, lustful couples struggle to keep their hands off of each other at a ball. The camera contributes to a vivid sense of place, with the relationship between the leads made clear using clever compositions, as well as a number of comedic vignettes rendered all-the-more funny using precise blocking (a young woman’s dress accentuates her ample derriere in the foreground as an old society matron scoffs in the background). Neither Young or Albertson are particularly exciting on screen – Young, beautiful as she is, doesn’t have the sexual cunning of Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face, and Albertson is obnoxious, spending the entirety of the picture jealously whining. The middle section drags, but a late appearance by Joan Blondell as a sassy prostitute enlivens the material once again, aiding the sinking production with a satisfying finish.