She Married Her Boss (Gregory La Cava / U.S., 1935):

Love, a capitalist story. The calm center of the bustling office is the executive secretary (Claudette Colbert), smitten for six years with the stuffy tycoon (Melvyn Douglas) who longs for some efficient management back home. Invited over for dinner, she impresses mightily by confronting his "professional pallbearer" of a sister (Katharine Alexander) and taming his unruly daughter (Edith Fellows) with an off-screen spanking. ("The first music Iíve heard in this house in months," the paterfamilias says of the girlís yelps.) A not quite romantic proposal follows, sandwiched between the groomís obtuse Shakespearean quoting and his needing the butlerís help to carry the new wife over the threshold and up to a separate bedroom. Business and marriage together "sound like an incorporation," with a deft hand Gregory La Cava dismantles both. The husband wants the same assistant at work and in the drawing room, no match for the playboy (Michael Bartlett) who woos Colbert by warbling "Parlez-vois díAmour" by the piano. (The daughter, no brat but an imaginative imp, responds with her own tinkly rhymes, including one that could be an anthem for many a La Cava heroine: "I donít want to go to bed, Iím having too much fun!") Conformity here is a matter of playacting best tolerated while under the influence, the suggestive central anecdote has Colbert and Bartlett full of champagne and mingling with a family of mannequins -- the ersatz ideal of expressionless effigies brought down with slurred singalongs and put on display for the benefit of Douglas Sirk. A comedy of curtains pulled open in dark rooms and anarchic bricks hurled at ritzy windows, where retrograde surfaces can't quite conceal their inner feminist glow. With Raymond Walburn, Jean Dixon, Clara Kimball Young, and Grace Hayle. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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