Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Forgotten Films Employees Entrance

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.


Mathew Paust said...

Wow. My memory of Loretta Young was as a kid watching her sweep out of the wings in a long gown to introduce her TV show. Had no idea she was so hot.

R.T. said...

Ah, the pre-Code movies can be great eye-openers. Every now and then one shows up on TCM. But now you have me scratching my head about that damned Code. I now need to do some research: why was the Code invoked? where did it go? why did it go? (It all seems like a rather sleazy chapter in American government v. film industry history.) Feel free to shortcut my research by sharing your knowledge.

Ed Gorman said...

The Production Code of 1930 - Similar to The Production Code of 1930
From virtually the earliest years of their existence, movies were regarded by many ... In 1930, therefore, a new code which came to be known as the Hollywood

R.T. said...


Dan said...

There was a fine documentary on TCM about the ins & outs of this maze-like censorship.

As for Warren William, he had an interesting career: brought to Hollywood as a profile to compete with Barrymore, his career was in general a very slow and graceful spiral downwards, ending in two fascinating roles: in OUT OF THE FOG/STRANGE ILLUSION he had the "Claudius" part in Ulmer's version of HAMLET. And in FEAR, he was the equivalent of Inspector Porfiry in CRIME AND PUNISHMENT