Wife vs Secretary

Even way back in 1936 the plot of Wife vs Secretary was pretty hackneyed. The script is OK, but hardly inspired. And Clarence Brown’s direction is competent but unexciting. It really sounds like a movie with very little to recommend it, but it does have three very big things going for it. Those three things being its three stars - Myrna Loy, Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. They’re able to take fairly stock characters and bring them to life, and also to give them some real depth. You can’t help caring about what happens to these people. I was expecting a comedy but it’s really more of a romantic drama. Gable is a magazine publishing tycoon, Myrna Loy is his wife and Harlow is his indispensable secretary. Harlow is particularly good. Not really the blonde bombshell you might expect, she’s a hard-working and very competent career woman and really much more than just a secretary. She avoids most of the cliches that usually go along with the role of the “other woman” and brings some real dignity to her role. Wife vs Secretary isn’t a great movie but it’s decent entertainment.

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