Monday, March 18, 2013

Loretta Goes to Work

1931's Big Business Girl features Loretta Young as  Claire McIntyre, a woman just out of secretarial school.  She is in love with musician Johnny Saunders (Frank Albertson), but her debts from school force her to let him journey off alone to a lucrative gig, while she looks for work in New York City. After landing a job as a stenographer, she is able to get into see advertising executive Robert J. Clayton (Ricardo Cortez), who, impressed with her ad copy (and her looks) promotes her to copywriter.  Claire inadvertently overhears Clayton's assessment of her skills and appearance, and decides to use her wiles to further advance her career.  Re-enter Johnny, and sparks begin to fly, as Johnny is furious at Claire's dedication to her job, as well as Clayton's obvious interest in her sexually.

Looking back from the vantage of 2013, one could see Claire eventually suing Clayton for sexual harassment, but this is 1931, and neither his actions (nor her's) is at all bothersome.  We won't go into too much detail as to Johnny's reactions, because that would give away a big surprise that is revealed in the middle of the film.  But there is a lot of petulance on the side of Johnny (Frank Albertson is rather good at petulance.  Witness his Freddie Miller in Bachelor Mother) and sliminess on the part of Cortez (which we all know from many movies he too is very good at portraying).  And Loretta skirting the edge of being the slightest bit racy.  The fact that Claire is quite talented at her job (and is very careful to not lead Clayton on too far) makes her just barely moral.  But this is a pre-code film, so that titillation value is there.

There is also a nice surprise towards the end of the movie - an appearance by Joan Blondell.  Telling more than that would give away too much of the plot, but the she is a riot.  Here is a trailer that will give you a taste of the movie (and of Ms. Blondell): 

While not a great movie, this is an interesting film that is worth seeing.  Just for Young and Cortez alone, it worth the just little over an hour of your time.

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