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
12,000 workers pass through the EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE of Franklin Monroe & Co., the world's largest department store. Hounded & harried by their merciless management, they have produced a superior retail establishment. However, the cost in broken hearts & lives has been tremendous, as greed & ambition struggle for control of the entire corporation...
This is an excellent film that rewards diligent attention from the viewer. Like its predecessor, SKYSCRAPER SOULS (1932), the story takes a diverse cast of characters, puts them in a large structure, stirs in a witches' brew of human emotions, and applies intense pressure on them all from the top down. Fine production values help the believability in this pre-Production Code drama.
Warren William dominates the picture - just as he did in SKYSCRAPER SOULS (1932) in an identical role- as the store's completely amoral, conniving, tyrannical manager. He is perfect in the part and it is fascinating to watch a skilled actor portray a thoroughly bad character. As one of the finer actors of the decade, it is indeed a shame the William is all but forgotten today.
The rest of the cast is excellent: Wallace Ford & Loretta Young as a secretly married couple whom William tries to corrupt; Alice White as the store floozy, willing to drop her morals at William's command; Ruth Donnelly as William's no-nonsense secretary; Frank Reicher & Charles Sellon as two old men who respond in very different ways to having William destroy their livelihood; and Hale Hamilton as the store's ineffectual, absentee owner.
Movie mavens will recognize Allen Jenkins as an undercover store security officer and Charles Lane as a shoe salesman, both unbilled.
Although meant to be great entertainment and nothing more, this film should raise just enough questions in the viewer's mind so as to get them pondering what really goes on behind all those closed doors at their own favorite department store.
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