Friday, June 14, 2013

Employees Entrance

Ed here: I saw this film the other night and was astonished by how amoral, sophisticated, amusing  and psychically painful it was in places. Being a good Catholic boy I had this burning crush on Loretta Young when I was in Catholic grade school (she was in many of the Catholic movies). But I had no idea she was ever in movies like this one. She is so so sexy and genuinely vulnerable here I want to see more of her pre-Code movies. What a babe and what an actress. I found this excellent piece on the film.  BTW Warren Williams gets knocked sometimes but man he's also at the top of his game here.

Go here ShadowsandSatin for the entire piece

Employees’ Entrance (1933) stars the dashing and delightfully bad Warren William, Loretta Young and Wallace Ford. It’s one of the first pre-Code movies I ever owned, part of the Turner/MGM/UA “Forbidden Hollywood” series, and it’s a gem. The film’s principal characters are Kurt Anderson (William), the ruthless manager of a giant department store, who will do anything to succeed; Madeleine Walters (Young), who pays a steep price when she goes to work in Anderson’s store; and Martin West (Ford), who is hired as Anderson’s protégé and is secretly married to Madeleine.  Based on a play by David Boehm (who was later nominated for an Oscar for the 1944 Spencer Tracy starrer A Guy Named Joe) and directed by Roy Del Ruth, Employees’ Entrance is, as my treasured VHS copy declares, “filled with forbidden pleasures!”  Here are some of the reasons why I love this film:

Kurt Anderson is not a nice guy, but he sure is fun to watch. In one scene, he fires a 30-year employee of the store, in front a room full of co-workers, because the man is “too old, too set.” The distraught former employee later commits suicide. When Anderson is told, he observes, “When a man outlives his usefulness, heought to jump out of a window. That’s the trouble with most men – they don’t realize when they’re through.” In another scene, after a store detective mistakenly detains a newspaper editor’s wife for theft, Anderson gives the woman a concert grand piano to compensate for her inconvenience, and tells the guard he’ll take ten dollars a week out of his salary until it’s paid for. When the man protests that it will take him the rest of his life to pay the debt, Anderson retorts, “I doubt if you’ll live that long. Get out.”

In typically scandalous pre-Code fashion, Kurt appears to be a benevolent benefactor when he hires the job-seeking Madeleine, but after treating her to a much-needed meal, he winds up seducing her. And later, when Madeleine gets drunk at a party following a fight with her husband, Kurt invites her to sleep it off in his room – and you can just guess what happens.


Todd Mason said...

Eyes, if anything, a little too large, but indeed looking lovely and probably too vulnerable. What budding adolescent (at least, who was attracted to women) with any sort of protective streak could resist?

Mathew Paust said...

She WAS a babe. Wow. I remember her only from her TV show, when a stage door would open and she'd come through swirling her long skirt like a ballroom dancer.

Keith West said...

Careful, Ed. Calling Loretta Young a "babe" could get you a similar response to what Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg encountered recently when they referred to Bea Mehaffey as a "lady editor" and said she looked good in a swimsuit. :)

Seriously, this sounds like great film. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip.

Deb said...

Those pre-code movies are really something--look for the ones starring Norma Shearer, Barbara Stanwyck, or Kay Francis for some true eye-openers. Then in 1934, the code shut everything down for three decades. We were still taking baby steps into film adulthood while European and Japanese film makers were producing mid-century classics. (This is not to disparage many of the movies made during the code years--especially the noirs of the 1940s; it took real ingenuity to work around that code while still ostensibly working within it.)