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William A. Wellman
Kurt Anderson is the tyrannical manager of a New York department store in financial straits. He thinks nothing of firing an employee of more than 20 years or of toying with the affections of every woman he meets. One such victim is Madeline, a beautiful young woman in need of a job. Anderson hires her as a salesgirl, but not before the two spend the night together. Madeline is ashamed, especially after she falls for Martin West, a rising young star at the store. Her biggest fear is that Martin finds out the truth about her "career move." Written by
Last film for silent picture star Robert Gran, who died in an auto accident before the film was finished and released (notice he does not appear in the later part of the film). See more »
She's blackmailing me! I'm caught like a rat in a trap! I'll be ruined! Franklin Monroe might hear of it! Anderson, you know all about women. What am I to do?
Why don't you kill her?
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It has a bad guy that you actually have to like. Most of the story is spent setting him up as a conventional villain, a ruthless guy who capriciously ruins lives. A hateful, selfish man, arrogant and exploitative.
Along the way, he sleeps with a pretty employee and then when he finds she is married to his protégé he tries to ruin the pair. A man he fired kills himself, and the pretty girl (Loretta Young) tries to. In his manner, he is as brusque and offensive as he can be. He hires a floozy to compromise a fellow executive. He harangues everyone.
And yet by the end you actually like the guy and are surprised at being tricked into doing so. He fights to avoid laying off thousands of employees (because of the depression) in a fight to the death with the bankers. He proves to be honest, if misogynistic.
The two girls are incredibly sexy, as this was made just before the code slammed the shutters on women in film.
Alice White plays the floozy just before a sex scandal ruined her career a second time. She had previous been "helped" by a few directors including Chaplin. We are seeing a real fading flapper here.
Loretta Young, at 20 is as beautifully photographed as she would ever be. How odd to see the pretty girl as one who could be seduced so... twice.
But that's all by the way. The writing of this thing is so competent it rocked me back. I watch a lot of movies and usually have to let my imagination fill in for various deficiencies. Not so here. The writer of this also did the "Kennel Murder Case" of the same year, also excellent.
Excellent again. A good old straight ahead movie that fools you into thinking it is straight ahead and then it turns things a bit upside down.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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