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|Index||19 reviews in total|
Take a story of no significance, load it with events of dubious credibility...and what do you have? If you also manage to include roles that are ideal for Clark Gable, Constance Bennett and Billie Burke, and if you find these players at the top of their form, and bring this mix alive with a crackling script by Herman Mankiewicz, the significance and credibility of it all are distinctly secondary. The characters talk fast, think fast, and move fast. This type of picture was done often in the 30s: part screwball, part melodrama, part love story (with sharp edges). When it worked - as it surely does here - you would be royally entertained. Enjoy.
"After Office Hours", directed by Robert Z. Leonard was shown as part
of a Constance Bennett retrospective the other day on TCM. This 1935
film was written for the screen by Herman Mankiewicz.
The wonderful world of New York's high society and the sensational news by the tabloids of the thirties are combined in this movie to give us a fast paced comedy in which most of the comments submitted to this forum express a surprise in the turn it takes when the happy situation at the start of the film and the illicit romance being investigated by a newspaper changes into a different, and unexpected climax.
The gorgeous Constance Bennett and the handsome Clark Gable are a delight to watch in the movie. Both these actors had great chemistry, and frankly, it's a shame they weren't seen together more often. Ms. Bennett was at, perhaps, one of the best times in her career and as the society girl turned newspaper music critic, she makes quite an impression. Also, the newspaper editor portrayed by Mr. Gable is one of his best characterizations in the movies.
Also in the cast some famous faces, the luminous Billie Burke, who plays Ms. Bennett's mother is a welcome presence in any film. Stuwart Erwin, Harvey Stephens, Henry Travers, William Demarest and Margaret Dumond are seen in supporting roles.
This is an excellent movie because of the fine contributions of Constance Bennett and Clark Gable.
Clark Gable is fun as a (maybe not so) tough-guy reporter. Stuart Erwin
is wasted -- fine but he deserved more -- as his subordinate. Billie
Burke is as always fun. But Constance Bennett strolls away with this.
Probably 99.9% of all living beings today have never heard of Ms. Bennett. Granted, about 90% have probably never heard of Clark Gable, either, But there is something odd about Bennett's fall from grace.
She was a huge star and her performances hold up beautifully. Yet, she seems to be viewed as a blip on the radar screen of American movie history, which she really was not.
I wonder, as an example, why "Topper" is almost never shown. I saw it once and thought it a very chic and appealing screwball comedy. Heaven knows, it spawned sequels (sot of sequels) and a TV series based on it was quite popular. Are there some sort of copyright problems? This movie, in any case, has a nice, twisting plot. It's amusing, it's stylish, it has a bit of suspense. It isn't great by any means, though it surely would have been more fun before the Code -- only a year or two before it was released.
(The title is racy but seems to have little bearing on the movie itself, just as an aside.)
A year earlier Clark Gable as a "punishment" for a recalcitrant star
was farmed out to Columbia Pictures by Louis B. Mayer to make a real
dog of a film about a bus trip entitled It Happened One Night.
That film essentially created the modern screen comedy as we know it and made a grand slam of the major Oscar categories including one for Clark Gable as Best Actor. Gable played a newspaper reporter in that one, on the trail of runaway heiress Claudette Colbert.
One thing about Louis B. Mayer, if he saw a trend he'd capitalize on it. If his number one star got an Oscar as a reporter, we'll make him an editor. And we'll bring the society girl into the newsroom where she's also working as a reporter. Common job interests should provide a basis for romance.
And that boys and girls is how After Office Hours came into being. But despite the naughty title, the main thing that Clark Gable and Constance Bennett are working on after work is an argument over a society murder.
Gable has a notion that the man arrested for murdering a society grand dame who was doing a little stepping out is not the guilty party. He needs Bennett to help him gain entree to the Cholly Knickerbocker set to prove it.
Bennett and Gable settle comfortably into their roles and Stu Erwin has a nice turn as Gable's sidekick.
As for Louis B. Mayer and MGM, After Office Hours did OK, but Gable made them some big money that year in Mutiny on the Bounty.
But I'll bet Mayer was mighty careful over what he assigned as punishments.
Until the murder takes place, "After Office Hours" seems tired and
boring with a stellar cast going to waste, but then it turns into a
fairly decent romantic comedy murder yarn. Though it is always a
delight to see Constance Bennett and Clark Gable on the screen, and
together they do make a dynamic pair, the funniest lines come from Stu
Erwin and William Demarest. The movie comes to life when the police
detective (Demarest in an uncredited role)investigates the crime scene.
Demarest steals the show and it becomes obvious why he went on to
become one of Hollywood's leading character actors. The most hilarious
part of the movie comes toward the end when Jim Branch (Gable) is doing
his own investigation at the prime suspect's house. He has Hank Parr
(Erwin)talk as loud as possible to see if his voice can be heard over
the music coming from the Victrola upstairs. If you don't laugh at Stu
Erwin's antics in this scene then you need to have your giggle box
tested. It was pleasing to see Margaret Dumont, the butt of so many of
Groucho's wisecracks in the Marx Brothers films, in a brief walk on
part. She makes the most of the few seconds given her. Too bad she
wasn't given a larger part.
Though this is no "It Happened One Night," it is entertaining with several cleverly written scenes highlighting the comic talents of Stu Erwin and William Demarest. Add the enchanting Constance Bennett, the always debonair Clark Gable, a tipsy Billie Burke and how can you go wrong?
Clark Gable and Constance Bennett star in "After Office Hours," a 1935
film directed by Robert Z. Leonard. Gable is Jim Branch, the go-getter
editor of a newspaper, who is hot on the trial of a society love
triangle. Irritated with the music critic, Sharon Norwood (Bennett), he
fires her, only to find out that evening that she is very good friends
with all the parties. He then not so subtly tries to find out as much
as he can. When the woman in the triangle is murdered, he's certain
that he knows who did it - but since it's someone Sharon is close to,
he's going to have a tough time of it.
Gable and Bennett make a great team, though how Sharon ever believed a word coming out Branch's mouth is beyond me. Bennett is beautiful with outfits that match her elegant looks, and Gable makes a pretty glib Jim - also an insincere one. One assumes Sharon was in love with him and gave him the benefit of the doubt. You really couldn't blame her.
A delightful film with two wonderful stars.
After Office Hours (1935)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
A hard nosed editor (Clark Gable) hires a society girl (Constance Bennett) as a reporter but he's actually using her to try and crack a story on a playboy (Stuart Erwin). The editor gets in over his head when a murder takes place and might put the girl in danger, which is even worse when he falls for her. This is certainly minor fair but it's made entertaining by the terrific performance by Gable. It's somewhat shocking to see how great he is even though the story is pretty bland and unoriginal. For the most part Gable plays the part as a fast talker and he comes off very charming in doing this. He certainly keeps the film going with his performance and almost makes the viewer forget how silly the actual story is. Bennett is also very good in her role and the two stars work well together. The film borrows some from Gable's Oscar winning role in It Happened One Night and there's also a funny scene where Gable plays Popeye. The first thirty-minutes are actually pretty involving but the second half of the movie completely falls apart when the love story is brought in. There's also some slapstick comedy that comes out of no where and really seems like a scene from another movie accidentally edited into this one. Henry Travers of It's a Wonderful Life has a small role.
I was surprised when what I thought was a lighthearted comedy turned into a murder mystery. This seemed to be the film's biggest flaw -- neck-wrenching changes in the action and feel of the show. Is it a romantic comedy, a dark mystery, a brooding social commentary on the upper-crust of society, or what? It didn't know, and neither does the viewer. One thing I did enjoy was finding "other" stars in the movie -- Billie Burke (The Good Witch from "Wizard of Oz") as Mrs. Norwood and William Demarest (Uncle Charlie from 60's/70's TV Show "My Three Sons") as a police detective. I think the film could have used a bit of editing for flow, otherwise it was a nice diversion. Just slightly above average, but I'm glad I saw it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Clark Gable as a tough talking editor/reporter of a newspaper wants to
get the goods on a guy who swindled many victims. Sounds like the
Bernie Madoff saga of the 1930s. He feels that he can do this if he
plays up the fact that the guy has been carrying on with another woman.
Trouble is that the woman, who is married, soon turns up dead and while
he knows who the culprit is in her murder, it's going to be hard to
prove as others saw the drunken husband slap her.
Constance Bennett is the society matron who writes a music column for the paper and who knows the guy Gable suspects of her murder quite well.
As always, Billie Burke is the flippant, exasperated person, this time as Bennett's mother.
My main flaw with this good film, it ended too fast. Things got resolved very quickly and would have been more enjoyable gone on longer.
Clark Gable takes a wild stretch in this film and plays...well, exactly
the same type of character he played in most of his films of the 1930s!
On top of playing a fast-talking and rather dishonest hero, he also
plays a newspaper man--something he did with great frequency. Constance
Bennett appeared as the "dame" and she was just fine as the woman you
absolutely KNOW Gable will end up with by the end of the film! So there
aren't any real surprises and the film is pure formula...yet it does
somehow work simply because it's so much fun watching Gable in action.
He almost effortlessly plays a very likable rogue and letting him do a
bit of sleuthing in this film was a welcome change of pace.
Now let me rate this on two levels. For Gable fans like me, I'd give it a 7---it's good solid entertainment. For non-fans, it's still an amiable time-passer and earns a 6. My advice is don't think too much about the silly plot and romance in this film--it will make you have a headache. Instead, just sit back and enjoy.
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