Employees’ Entrance (1933)

For Kurt Anderson (Warren William), Franklin Monroe department store is his life.  He’s the manager and doesn’t think twice about dismissing anyone he thinks isn’t helping the store reach its full potential, no matter how damaging it is to the other person.  When an up-and-coming clothing company can’t deliver a shipment on time, Kurt cancels the order and sues them for damages, knowing it would completely wipe out the company.  When he decides a long-time employee is no longer useful, he fires him and the employee ends up throwing himself out of a window.  None of these things faze Kurt at all, he figures they aren’t his problem.

Before leaving one night after closing, Kurt finds a young woman named Madeline (Loretta Young) trying to spend the night in the furniture section.  She desperately wants a job in the store and although she has a place to stay, the store’s furniture displays are much nicer.  Kurt takes her out for dinner and promises to give her a job.  But don’t think that Kurt has a soft side, he later takes advantage of her.  She gets a job as a model in the womens’ department and meets and falls in love with Martin West (Wallace Ford), who also works in the store, but works under Kurt.   Martin suddenly finds himself on the rise in company after he makes some good suggestions about how to increase sales and Kurt makes him his assistant.  By now, he and Madeline want to get married, but his new job is very demanding and Kurt warns him right off that this is not a job suitable for married men.  Despite Kurt’s warning, Martin and Madeline get married anyway but keep it  a secret from Kurt.

Sure enough, it turns out that Kurt was right.  Martin is always working late and it puts a strain on his relationship with Madeline.  The two of them end up having a huge fight one night at a company party and Martin gets so drunk that he passes out and spends the night in the store.  As for Madeline, she runs into Kurt and the two of them end up spending the night together.  Unaware that she’s married, he asks her out again the next day, so she finally admits that she’s married to Martin.  Wanting to break them up, he tries bribing fellow salesgirl Polly Dale (Alice White) to seduce Martin away from Madeline, but she refuses.  Later, he makes sure that Martin finds out that Madeline has slept with him.  Devastated, Madeline tries to kill herself and Martin goes to see Kurt, ready to kill him.  See, Kurt has gotten into some trouble with the board of directors and with his job now on the line, Kurt welcomes the idea of being shot and even gives Martin the gun.  Martin does shoot him, but doesn’t seriously hurt him.  With Kurt on the mend and once his job has been secured again, Martin and Madeline decide it’s for the best for them to find jobs elsewhere.

Employees’ Entrance is pretty fascinating stuff.  It’s not so much that the story is super compelling, but watching Kurt is kind of like watching a trainwreck.  I don’t mean that Warren William did a lousy job, actually he was excellent in it, I mean that Kurt was such an incredible jerk that I couldn’t stop watching because I just had to see what horrible thing he was going to do next.  And the most interesting thing about Employees’ Entrance is that it doesn’t try to redeem Kurt in any way, shape, or form.  He doesn’t have any big revelations about how awful he was, he doesn’t try to better himself.  No, instead he just keeps on being the same old heel he always was with zero redeeming qualities.  It’s not often that you see a character so very unapologetically heartless as Kurt Anderson.

About these ads

One response to “Employees’ Entrance (1933)

  1. Ah, my favorite Warren William title, love it — pair this one with Skyscraper Souls and there’s no choice but to be hooked!

    Kurt is one of WW’s biggest SOB’s (he’s played worse but they’re a bit further over the top!) but he has some redeeming qualities. The man likes hard work and he admires those who take it on without any qualms.

    He’s quick to put you in your place, but at the same time he’s like a one man force against the Great Depression keeping everyone at that department store employed through rough times.

    And along those lines he did behave better towards his (male) underlings than those at the executive level or even above him. Kurt’s got to keep the almighty descendant of Benjamin Franklin and James Monroe from sinking this ship–I’ve always seen those fat cats as the real bad guys in this one.

    Great write-up and a nice run of some of my own favorites–can’t wait to see what gets the spotlight tomorrow!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s