Friday, April 2, 2010

Bachelor Apartment

                                          Miss Secretary

Release date April 15.  1931

Wayne: "I apologize."
Helene: "For what?"
Wayne: "For living!"

This film is only understandable under the assumption that it was already under production before the great success of "Cimarron", and looking on the release dates this was probably the case. Obviously RKO didn´t have the notion that Irene Dunne was a new star sparkling at Hollywood´s heaven, otherwise they likely would have tried to present their newly established leading lady in a more glamorous, convenient vehicle.

Wayne Carter (Lowell Sherman in personal union as lead and director) successful, rich business man and playboy who is approaching the expiration date and anyway starting to get fed up with the flatness of both the ladies and the champagne, happens to meet Helene Andrews (Irene) showing up in his apartment looking for her younger sister Lita (Claudia Dell). We are in the depression era and both women are unemployed, desperately searching for work. Lita, a dancer, is trying to take a shortcut to money via some gold digging for men on Fifth Avenue, but Helene is determined to stay decent and stick to her profession as a stenographer.

                                          Wayne on a hunting trip...

Wayne impressed by Helene´s honesty and straighforwardness instantly gets interested in her.
And what is the most direct way into a stenographer´s heart?
Hire her as a secretary!
Of course it isn´t as easy as that: different ladies from Wayne´s past pop up frequently, a suspicious
husband threatens to kill him and then Lita vanishes...

                                          Oh, those blondes...

This is definitely a Lowell Sherman film, it takes about twenty minutes till Irene turns up for the first time and her role being quite one-dimensional isn´t much to start with. But obviously she quickly grasped the fact -still
only her third film - that the core of film acting is acting with facial expressions, none of her peers in this film
achieves this like she does. If "Bachelor Apartment" has any significance for Irene´s career it´s her playing
a proper part in quite a frivolous surrounding and being proper is one trademark of Irene´s on and off screen image.

                                          Miss Proper

Miss Proper and Mr. Playboy getting seriously...

Although there is not much to do for Miss Dunne here, the film has its charms which are consistent of its racy, pre-code handling of infidelity, teasing and sexuality, some snappy dialogue and above all the over the top performance of Mae Murray as Wayne´s former lover who enters his bedroom from time to time.
Nice little film of the enjoyable and forgettable sort!


  1. That sounds like a cute premise for a film (Nice girl interests playboy, he takes a shine to her, and then all of his former conquests show up)! Did'nt Doris Day and Rock Hudson star in the remake? :)
    Nice review and I love the pic with the caption "Miss Proper". But has anyone else made propriety so fun?!
    Reading your earlier post, don't forget that "presumed lost" films are being discovered in the strangest places (one "lost" classic was discovered in a janitors closet in a Norwegian insane asylum (?) so there's hope for "Leathernecking", yet!
    And, BTW, I can't WAIT for your review of "13 Women"! It may have been a short movie, but there's a LOT to talk about in that fascinating little film! Rob

  2. There are a lot films out there, which pick up this kind of storyline...are you talking about
    "Pillow Talk", Rob?! And certainly Irene was the best example ever that propriety and fun are compatible - on and off screen. Still hoping for Leathernecking...the finale of that film is in color, so that really would be something!But you still have to wait for "13 Women" there are four films ahead of that disturbing little flick. Susanne

  3. This is one of the few Irene Dunne films I haven't seen yet but I'll get it soon and then I'll have my own opinion =) thanks for your post!