Sunday, August 27, 2017

Beauty and the Boss

I've said a lot of times in the past about movies that it would be nice if they were available on one of those moderately-priced Warner box sets rather than just a standalone DVD from the Warner Archive. An excellent example of this is Beauty and the Boss.

Baron Josef von Ullrich (Warren William) is a high flyer, both figuratively and literally. In the film's opening scene, he's flying across the Atlantic from New York to Vienna (presumably with stops along the way since this is the early 1930s), having had an important business meeting in New York, and dictating letters and getting important business information on the flight back. Baron Josef is a banker who clearly works very hard.

But he also plays hard. He likes women -- nothing wrong with that -- but he has a problem with them as well. It seems that he keeps getting good-looking women as his secretaries, and they want to impress him with their good looks. It would be fine for him to have any of these secretaries as a girlfriend at night; the problem is that during the day he's all business. None of these secretaries satisfies his sense of what a secretary should be on the job, as he fires his latest, Olive (Mary Doran).

The Baron would be just fine having a male secretary if there were those around, but into his life walks young Susie (Marian Marsh). She calls herself a church mouse, being poor and threadbare and working as hard as the proverbial church mouse. She shows up unannounced looking for a job, and her good luck is that she looks the part of a secretary, bespectacled and looking entirely formal with no interest in romance.

The Baron decides to give her a job when she shows she's also a damn good secretary. She completely organizes his business life and stays totally away from anything personal, at least as long as it doesn't impinge on him at the office. If anybody personal does show off at the office, she knows how to give them the brush-off.

But then the Baron has to go to Paris for another important business meeting, and takes Susie along since it's business. First, Olive shows up at the airport looking for the Baron's plane: Susie has the smarts to direct Olive to the wrong plane. But more problematic is that the Baron's brother (David Manners) and an elderly business associate (Frederick Kerr) come along on the trip, and they decide to show Susie a night on the town. This, along with another meeting in Paris with Olive, gives Susie the idea that perhaps there's more to life than just being a secretary.

Beauty and the Boss is a breezy little programmer, running just 66 minutes. In fact, it's one of those rare movies that would benefit from running 10 or 15 minutes longer, as there would be more time for plot development. As it is, the movie progresses from one plot point to the next extremely quickly, as though it's skipping over things. Warren William was a natural in roles like this, and Marian Marsh is quite good too.

Ultimately, the fact that this is a short programmer means that I'm not certain the Warner Archive prices are quite worth it. If it were on one of those box sets, absolutely. As a standalone? Darn it's expensive.

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