Beauty and the Boss (1932)

Bank president Baron Josef von Ullrich (Warren William), like so many men, very much appreciates a beautiful woman.  But there’s just one place he doesn’t want to see them — in his office.  He keeps his bank running like a well-oiled machine and he’s afraid having a beautiful woman as his secretary would be too distracting.  So when he decides that it’s too hard to keep his mind on work with Olive (Mary Doran) as his secretary, he fires her, but starts seeing her outside of work.

When Susie Sachs (Marian Marsh) hears that Josef needs a new secretary, she finagles her way into seeing him without an appointment.  She very desperately needs the job and at first, Josef tries to get rid of her, but she refuses to go and eventually ends up winning him over.  She shows him just how hard she can work and most importantly, she’s very plain looking, so Josef gladly hires her.

Susie proves to be the perfect secretary, but when she accompanies Josef to Paris to take care of some business, she spends a lot of time keeping Josef’s many admirers at bay.  Not because he doesn’t want to see them all, but because she’s fallen in love with Josef.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have anything more than a professional interest in her. One of the ladies she sent away was Olive and when Josef finds out about that, he sends Susie over to Olive’s apartment with some flowers to make up for it. While at Olive’s, Olive tells Susie that men will never notice her as long as she acts more like a machine than a woman.

Susie realizes that if she ever wants to get Josef’s attention, she needs to take Olive’s advice and reinvent herself. She gets herself a beautiful evening gown, a little bit of perfume, has her hair styled nicely, and suddenly, she’s a whole new woman with a whole new outlook on life.  Naturally, Josef can’t help but notice the change in her…and he likes it!

When you think of Warren William movies, you don’t typically think of delightful romantic comedies, but that’s exactly what you get with Beauty and the Boss.  I hadn’t realized going into this movie that it was supposed to be a comedy, so I was in for a very pleasant surprise. It’s another one of those great short-but-sweet overlooked pre-code gems that I love finding.

I love a classic, totally reprehensible Warren William cad, but it was refreshing to see him in something more lighthearted for a change.  Josef is still a bit of a cad, but he’s a far more likeable cad than we see in Employees’ Entrance or Skyscraper Souls. Marian Marsh and Mary Doran were both very memorable as well.  Some of Marian Marsh’s rapidfire line deliveries truly have to be heard to be believed. The way she rattles off some of her lines could easily give Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday a run for her money.

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