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Behind Office Doors (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 15 March 1931 (USA)
Mary Linden is the secretary who is the unheralded power behind successful executive James Duneen. He takes her for granted until rival Wales tries to take her away from him.


(as Melville Brown)


(by) (as Alan Brener Schultz), (screenplay)

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Complete credited cast:
Mary Linden
Robert Ames ...
James Duneen
Ronnie Wales
Catherine Dale Owen ...
Ellen May Robinson
Kitty Kelly ...
Delores Kogan
Edna Murphy ...
Daisy Presby
Charles Sellon ...
John Ritter
William Morris ...
Banker Charles H. Robinson
George MacFarlane ...
(scenes deleted)


Mary Linden is the secretary who is the unheralded power behind successful executive James Duneen. He takes her for granted until rival Wales tries to take her away from him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Private Secretary  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The $15 Duneen says he paid for the striped shirt would equate to $236 in 2016. See more »


When Duneen stands up from sitting on the edge of his desk and moves forward and off camera to the right, his mouth moves as if saying something, but no words are heard. See more »


Girl in Duneen's Apartment: Can I play some jazz now?
See more »


Three Little Words
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Ruby
Lyrics by Bert Kalmar
Played as dance music in the nightclub
See more »

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User Reviews

Pre-Code...and then some!
21 June 2010 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I know I have seen this film before or at least one very, very similar to this. However, for once, IMDb is of no help at all using its keywords and it shows nothing in regard to movie connections. If you know what the remake for this was titled, let me know.

For those who don't know what the term "Pre-Code" refers to, this is a film made mostly in the early 1930s--up to 1934. While there was a Production Code that supposedly controlled inappropriate content in American films, it was rarely enforced and the films of this era were occasionally very risqué--even by today's standards. While the films following the adoption of a strengthened Code in 1934 were quite tame, pre-code films had some shocking moments such as nudity (yes, Grandpa and Grandma were NOT as prudish as you'd imagine), adultery, homosexuality and cursing. And, occasionally sin was not just condoned but was rewarded by the end of the film! "Behind Office Doors" is clearly a pre-code film in its sensibilities--though it's not as shocking as "Red-Headed Woman" (but what is?!). The film features some adulterous situations, 'free love', a man smacking a woman on the rear (plus she isn't his wife), sexy lingerie, a smart and conniving career girl who smokes and drinks and likes men (Mary Astor), references to hashish, wild parties and lots of sexually-charged banter! However, and this is very odd, but midway through the film the pre-code trashy elements mostly disappear. The resulting film is very good but had one glaring problem that irritated me a tiny bit.

The film begins with Astor meeting a handsome guy (Ricardo Cortez). He is instantly smitten with her, but her mind is focused on an executive at work (Robert Ames). Plus, she learns that Cortez is already married. For much of the movie, Mary works to make the man she's infatuated with (Ames) and pulls strings to make him successful. Oddly, despite being successful, Ames is a bit of an idiot. First, he doesn't recognize all the times Astor manipulates him to make him a success. Second, she's pretty and devoted--but the fool doesn't appreciate her or recognize that she loves him. In many ways, Astor is quite the sap and Ames clearly doesn't deserve her. Even when it's obvious Ames is chasing other women, Astor hold out hope that somehow he'll recognize her and marry her. In fact, I had a hard time loving the film because Ames just wasn't worth it--I wanted to see her find someone other than him or Cortez! The film truly is the ultimate in self-sacrifice and as a result Astor is a human doormat--too much so. Still, despite this, the film is well made, entertaining and worth seeing--I just wished they'd made the relationship between Ames and Astor less one-sided and ridiculous.

By the way, my favorite line in the film was "You don't love me for my body alone...". Now THAT'S pre-code!

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