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Alfred E. Green,
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
So reads the advertisement for the tract of land that real estate developer Lew Cody plans to revitalize. Cody promises home ownership to anyone who can make a modest down payment. But after four months of waiting, his investors ask, where are the houses? Building is overdue!
The film moves at such a fast pace that you might not catch Cody's explanation about the delay. Let's just say that the funds for building are gone.
This film is an ensemble piece, especially as the story progresses and the characters are quarantined at the office. Fittingly, Cody has assembled a memorable staff of employees. In pre-code thirties style, there is the less than polite receptionist June Brewster, who is really too wise for her job but lacks the conscientiousness to perform it. The head of the sales force is married man Jed Prouty, who has an eye for Brewster. Anytime is a good time for a drink with him: "Hey, hey," Brewster responds when he repeatedly calls her away from the switchboard. Third wheel Harold Waldridge, who has a gambling habit he cannot afford, is wise to them, calling them Frankie and Johnny. Zasu Pitts seems to have an affinity for the restroom. Elderly Charles Sellon is on hand, either to be abused or to speak insensitively to Waldridge. And let's not forget the sweet young lovers Phillips Holmes and Mary Brian.
Besides the characters, you'll find the typical thirties work environment and banter. When someone faints, no one has water, but they have gin! Several of the employees have aversions to decorum. Brewster uses Waldridge so she can leave the switchboard to get a drink and "get her system back to normal." But he spies on her when she meets Prouty before work in the mornings for orange juice.
So what about those houses? Well, it seems that financial trouble has led to murder (or at least a death). That's why the employees are trapped at the office by the police.
The police detectives are another interesting twosome. Ned Sparks is apparently the Sherlock Holmes of the Eden Gardens area, but his entrance, "I'm Reardon" means nothing to anyone within hearing distance. "Are you cops?" asks Brewster in her well-spoken way. In thirties style, officer Sparks adopts a dismissive conversation style: "Stay here Grandpa, or I'll spank you." Sparks's sidekick George Guhl mistakenly follows Pitts into her beloved restroom. Besides these government officials, coroner Olin Howland has obviously adjusted to the fact that none of us is immortal. Let's just say he whistles while he works.
After several dramatic twists in the last fifteen minutes, the film wraps up rather happily. Perhaps Cody was right to have an altruistic mission, even if he didn't manage the funds for it transparently. But where will all these office workers get new jobs?
Amusing, thirties style entertainment.
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