Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MY DEAR SECRETARY

Mowbray and Douglas confer in interesting restaurant















MY DEAR SECRETARY (1948). Writer/director: Charles Martin.

Just before giving a lecture, author Owen Waterbury (Kirk Douglas) bumps into aspiring writer Stephanie Gaylord (Laraine Day). She applies for the job of his secretary after his old one, Elsie (Helen Walker), quits in a huff. Initially delighted to be hired, Stephanie realizes that what she hoped would be an interesting and intellectual position actually just calls for her to be playmate for her infantile employer, whom she nevertheless develops romantic feelings for. Throughout the movie the two make up and break up several times, but never convincingly. My Dear Secretary probably looked good on paper, and it has many amusing lines and a few genuinely funny sequences, but not enough to make it memorable. Douglas and Day are fine, but not as good as the supporting cast, which includes Wallker, Keenan Wynn as Owen's agent, Irene Ryan [of The Beverly Hillbillies] as his feisty housekeeper, Alan Mowbray as a private detective, Grady Sutton as another writer, and especially Florence Bates as the delightful landlady. While not quite on their level Rudy Vallee is also good as Stephanie's original boss and suitor. Virginia Hewitt makes an impression as the sexy Felicia, who dates Owen for a time. When asked which famous actress the slinky and beautiful Felicia resembles, Wynn says "Zazu Pitts!" The movie is basically good-natured, but there are some mean-spirited bits and Douglas' character seems to be too stupid to be capable of producing a novel, however bad. [He is definitely a "movie" writer and not a real one.] A highlight of the film is when the characters convene in a restaurant [see photo] in which some of the booths are surrounded by "frames," making them resemble paintings. In his sixth film, Douglas doesn't grit his teeth quite so much, but then this is not exactly intense material.

Verdict: There are quite a few laughs but the film doesn't quite cut it.**1/2.

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