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More Than a Secretary (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 24 December 1936 (USA)
When the co-owner of a secretarial school visits a magazine editor to find out why he runs through secretaries, she's mistaken for an applicant. Drawn to him, she accepts the position.



(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Carol Baldwin
Fred Gilbert
Helen Davis
Bill Houston
Dorothea Kent ...
Maizie West
Mr. Crosby
Geraldine Hall ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nick Copeland ...
Window Washer (scenes deleted)
Henry (scenes deleted)
C.L. Sherwood ...
Window Washer (scenes deleted)


When the co-owner of a secretarial school visits a magazine editor to find out why he runs through secretaries, she's mistaken for an applicant. Drawn to him, she accepts the position.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Help Wanted: Female  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The story was adapted by Ethel Hill and Aben Kandel, based on the magazine story "Safari in Manhattan" by Matt Taylor. It tells the story of a health magazine secretary who is in love with her boss. See more »


Maizie West: I think education is terribly important. I came pretty near getting a dose of it myself. My father was awfully ambitious on account of me. I can hear him like it was only yesterday saying to Mama, "Mama, we ought to do something about Maizie's mind." Oh, yeah, of course he never did, on account being took very sudden and leaving me to look after poor Mama. But, even if I couldn't take a course, I was always lapping up culture.
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User Reviews

Worth a look for fans of romantic comedy from the Golden Age
22 April 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I'd never heard of this film until recently it was recommended to me as a pleasant but easily overlooked Jean Arthur film

Jean Arthur's range is hardly tested in this one - she plays Carole a nice girl next-door type with the typical Arthur intelligence but without any of the more complex qualities, which in certain of her films drew such memorable performances.

George Brent, as Fred Gilbert, is similarly untested in this film (as in most of his films) but is in the additionally unfortunate position of providing the comedy in the romance, initially through his health regime obsession and then his superficial attraction to Maizie (Dorothea Kent), (the latter also being the means by which an essentially simple story is sufficiently prolonged to allow a feature length gap between the boy meets girl beginning and the inevitable - this is 1930's romantic comedy - boy gets girl ending).

A modern audience may not react too well to Fred's comments about a woman's role in business or his attempt at ruthlessly (in intent if not in effect) resolving his `Maizie situation' once the attraction has palled. However the main problem with this film is not that the women's movement has moved on 70 years since the film was made - 1930's comedies are after all, remembered for the strong and independent heroines and Fred is of course made to regret and reconsider his words and actions. It is simply that you do wonder a little just what Carole sees in him. Fortunately this film is saved from the romance being completely unbelievable by Carole's obvious recognition (and Jean Arthur's ability to convey) that she loves Fred regardless of his faults.

What is slightly harder to accept is Fred's overlooking Carole for so long (at least once she is out of the rather scary suit and spectacles she wears in the film's opening scene). Even allowing for the fact that anyone can make a fool of him/herself when it comes to love, Fred's abrupt changes of heart, especially the first volt face when he decides to employ Maizie, left me a little puzzled. A nice clue is given in the scene where Fred follows Carole to the secretarial school and in response to he snappish `I'm busy' he sharply retorts, `I never saw you when you weren't'. However this is not explored fully nor given elsewhere as an explanation for his foolishness (at just 80 minutes long, an additional 2-3 minutes to deepen this rather more satisfactory explanation for Fred's behaviour would not exactly have overdone things).

In addition to the main cast there is the usual nice support from Lionel Stander and Ruth Donnelly, Columbia contract actors, as likely as not to be in any Jean Arthur film of this time. I'm not sure why but Lionel Stander saying the word `bellicose' just cracks me up. There are some nice scenes between Ruth Donnelly and Jean Arthur, which are a rarity in a film genre where scenes between 2 women are usually about romantic rivalry and bitchy exchanges. This element is of course present in the scenes between Carole and Maizie, the latter being as unpleasant and manipulative as the audience needs her to be in order that we do not need to worry about her (or Fred's treatment of her) when she is ultimately dispatched (landing on her feet in any event).

If you like 1930's Hollywood romantic comedy then this is a sweet, unassuming film, which, while not as memorable as many other films of Hollywood's golden age, is still worth a look.

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