Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: Wife vs. Secretary (1936)

Starring: Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow

Co-starring: James Stewart, May Robson, George Barbier
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Other notable contributors: costume design by Adrian

Favorite scene: Linda, Loy’s character (the wife), and Whitey, Harlow’s character (the secretary), exchange a long look at the end that sets everything straight.

Favorite line: “Don’t look for trouble where there isn’t any, because if you don’t find it, you’ll make it.” - Dave

Raves: It’s really the stars of the film that make it worth watching. Gable and Loy are great as always, but I really enjoyed Jean Harlow in a role where she isn’t just the blonde bombshell. Jimmy Stewart also does a great job in a supporting role as the boyfriend of Jean Harlow’s character, Dave.
Rants: The wife being jealous of the husband’s secretary isn’t the most original plot.

My take: What I really love about the film is how differently the two couples are depicted. The scenes between Harlow and Stewart are especially wonderful and its unfortunate they never made another film together. Also, although the title suggests a comedy, I see the film as really more of a drama with fun parts.

Recommended if: you’re looking for an easy to watch film with some great stars.

Modern-Day counterpart: The only modern counterpart I could think of would be Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) based on the love triangle between characters. Anybody have a better suggestion?


Lindsay said...

Oooh gowns by Adrian!

That's funny - I haven't seen this film and never would have thought it was that much of a drama. Even the DVD cover makes it look like a screwball comedy.

I also think it's interesting how fast Myrna Loy's typecasting changed. In her early career (mostly silents, I believe) she always played the role of the exotic vixen, but she's best remembered for saintly, devoted wife roles as in this film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Best Years Of Our Lives, and the Thin Man movies.

Alix said...

An interesting note about Myrna Loy's career, although the type of wife she plays in this film isn't quite the same as her other films. Myrna Loy said afterwards, "Jean, supposedly the other woman, stayed very proper, while I had one foot in bed throughout. That's the sexiest wife I've ever played."

Lindsay said...

Ah that makes me want to watch one of the Thin Mans!

Funny too that in that poll about the King and Queen of Hollywood (you know which one I'm talking about, because I'm pretty sure they only did it once) Clark was named King and Myrna, Queen. Fast forward to 2009 - I'm sure most people our age know who Clark Gable is, but I'd guess very few would have heard of Myrna Loy. Perhaps this is a topic for a post!

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