Thursday, 16 February 2012

Beauty and the Boss (1932)

Roy del Ruth’s “Beauty and the Boss” starts off as your usual Warren Williams WB fare: a powerful businessman seduces his secretary – or in this case, he is being seduced by her. And to be honest, that was what I was expecting: another Pre-code seedy office melodrama (nothing against those, as seen here and here). Instead, it suddenly turned lighter, and I was presented with quite a good comedy.

While this may not be Williams’ best performance (I would elect “Employees’ Entrance”), it is one of his best and allows him to show his talent for comedy, something you can also see in the much vilified “Satan met a Lady”. Here he is clearly a star on the ascent: he is the lead despite being third billed, after David Manners, who clearly has a supporting part. Later that year (1932), he would be top billed in “The Match King” and “Skyscraper Souls” and with that unique and still unmatched balance of sleaze and seduction, he would become the ultimate Pre-code leading man.

Also extremely good are the two actresses, Marian Marsh and Mary Doran, as Williams’ current and former secretary (and current something else). I don’t think I ever had come across either of them. Marsh in particular shows some promise that, as far as her filmography allows me to assess, she never delivered – there is only one film she did after this whose title I recognised, "Crime and Punishment" with Peter Lorre.

Finally, I would like to say that this should have belonged in the Forbidden Hollywood collection series (rather than the Warner Archives), possibly in a volume dedicated to Warren Williams along with other Roy del Ruth titles such as “Upperworld”, “Employees’ Entrance” and “The Mind Reader” (the one I haven’t seen and would like to). Or, let’s even be original and add "Blessed Event” and two Cagneys (“Taxi!” and “Blonde Crazy”) and have an del Ruth Collection. A boy can dream, no?


Eileen said...

That sounds wonderful. I haven't seen that one, but will certainly look for it. I'm with you on the "Forbidden Hollywood" collection, too. To this day there's nothing like a good pre-Code film.

Judy said...

This is one I enjoyed a lot - William is great in it, and Marian Marsh too. She was also good in 'Svengali' with John Barrymore the previous year, though her career doesn't seem to have lasted long. Definitely agree with you that it is a shame the Forbidden Hollywood sets disappeared so soon - much more fun than the expensive barebones Warner Archive releases! Great stuff, Miguel.