Alice White

Employees’ Entrance (1933)

Employees' Entrance 1933 Warren William Loretta YoungFor 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.

Picture Snatcher (1933)

After a three-year stint in prison, Danny Kean (James Cagney) decides he’s going to straighten up and fly right.  He puts Jerry the Mug (Ralf Harolde) in charge of his old gang and starts pursuing his dream of becoming a newspaper reporter.  While he was in prison, he had gotten a letter from Al McClean (Ralph Bellamy), city editor for the Graphic News, offering him a job when he got out.  Graphic News isn’t known for being the most reputable paper in town, but Danny is still eager to work there.  However, once Danny shows up in their offices, Al has second thoughts about having such a notorious name on board.  While Danny is talking to Al, a story breaks about a firefighter being called to put out a fire, only to find the bodies of his wife and her boyfriend inside, and then barricaded himself in the burnt-out home with a gun.  Photographers from every paper in town are waiting to get a picture, but nobody is getting anything.  Eager to prove himself, Danny marches over there, pretends to be an insurance adjuster to get inside the house, and gets the picture everybody wants.

Of course, Danny lands a job as a photographer at the Graphic News and quickly becomes one of their top photographers.  He even lands a few dates with reporter Allison (Alice White), even though she is Al’s girlfriend.  But their relationship doesn’t go anywhere and he ends up falling for Pat Nolan (Patricia Ellis), a journalism student he meets when her class takes a tour of the Graphic News offices.  What Danny doesn’t know is that Pat is the daughter of Casey Nolan, the police lieutenant responsible for putting Danny behind bars.  When Casey finds out, obviously he wants Pat to have nothing to do with Danny, but Al helps win him over by getting a nice article written about him in a reputable newspaper.

Even though Danny is making good money at the paper, he becomes more and more eager to prove himself as a real newsman and bring in even more money so he can afford to marry Pat.  When a woman is set to be executed, every paper in town except for the Graphic News is invited to cover the event.  Danny manages to steal an invitation from another paper’s reporter and when they hesitate to let him in, he manages to get in on Casey’s word.  He has a camera hidden on his leg and manages to sneak a picture of the execution.  But when the other reporters find out, it results in a huge chase as the reporters and cops try to stop him from getting back to the Graphic News offices.  But Danny is no stranger to being chased, so he makes it back to the offices and his picture makes the front page.  Unfortunately, it costs him his relationship with Pat when her father gets demoted because of his stunt.  To hide Danny while all the commotion dies down, Al sends Danny to stay at Allison’s apartment while she’s supposed to be out-of-town.  Instead, she comes home early, tries to seduce Danny and Al catches them together and fires Danny.  Feeling guilty, Al quits his job at the Graphic News and tries to apologize to Danny.  He accepts and the two of them decide to use Danny’s connections to find Jerry the Mug, who is now being hunted down by the police.  Danny gets a shot of Jerry during a big shoot-out, Al writes a story to go with it, and they not only get jobs at a better paper, but Danny gets Casey his job back and wins Pat over again.

Picture Snatcher was pretty enjoyable.  Nothing too outstanding, Cagney and Bellamy both have had much more memorable movies, but I liked it well enough.  It’s got enough of Cagney as a tough guy to make it worthwhile, plus a good bit of humor and some pre-code moments to make it fun to watch.  Plus the pacing is great, it really fit a lot into 77 minutes.  I may not go out of my way to watch it again, but if TCM showed it again, I’d probably still tune in for it.