A young woman searching for work takes a job as a maid for a rich family. Intrigue follows as a butler schemes to make the attractive newcomer his own. Only to be foiled by the wealthy ...
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John M. Stahl
A young woman searching for work takes a job as a maid for a rich family. Intrigue follows as a butler schemes to make the attractive newcomer his own. Only to be foiled by the wealthy son's attraction to her. The fall in love, secretly marry and the maid finds she is pregnant. Twist of fate complicates the storyline as the butler seeks revenge for his rejection. He tells all to the family in the hopes of ending the marriage. A courtroom drama ensues with the family poised against the wife/maid. All is made good with a dramatic turn of events. Written by
In a film that was primarily a vehicle for Loretta Young, I'm guessing that Darryl Zanuck did not want to use his favorite leading man Tyrone Power in this remake of Common Clay. Power and Young did do several films together in the Thirties, but they were either equal vehicles or Power predominated. So Zanuck got the services of Robert Taylor who was the MGM equivalent of Power for Private Number.
Or it's possible that Power also took a look at the script and realized that the part Basil Rathbone had would be a show stealer. Or that Basil Rathbone would make it one as the villainous and lecherous butler is the kind of role Rathbone could really sink his teeth into.
Certainly the part is out of the Snidely Whiplash tradition of villains. Rathbone is the tyrannical butler who rules the house servants with an iron hand including 20% kickbacks on their salaries of which the clueless masters Paul Harvey and Marjorie Gateson know nothing and for reasons I can't figure out no one is telling them or complaining. The only who raises her voice to Rathbone is cook Jane Darwell.
When Loretta Young arrives looking for work, Rathbone in true stage villain tradition is willing to forget the kickback for other considerations. But Young catches the eye of Robert Taylor as Harvey's and Gateson's son. They marry in secret and Young keeps her pregnancy a secret for as long as she can.
With Rathbone playing Iago as well as Snidely Whiplash to the parents they move for an annulment. It all gets rather messy in court, but of course it all works out for the course of true love.
Young is certainly beautiful and who wouldn't fall for her. Only toward the end is Taylor given anything to do that requires any real acting on his part. Patsy Kelly playing Patsy Kelly is also fine as Young's best friend. But the one you will really remember from Private Number is Basil Rathbone.
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