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Behind Office Doors (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 15 March 1931 (USA)
Mary Linden is the secretary who is the unheralded power behind successful executive James Duneen. He takes her for granted until rival Wales tries to take her away from him.


Melville W. Brown (as Melville Brown)


Alan Schultz (by) (as Alan Brener Schultz), Carey Wilson (screenplay)

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Complete credited cast:
Mary Astor ... Mary Linden
Robert Ames ... James Duneen
Ricardo Cortez ... Ronnie Wales
Catherine Dale Owen ... Ellen May Robinson
Kitty Kelly ... Delores Kogan
Edna Murphy ... Daisy Presby
Charles Sellon ... John Ritter
William Morris ... Banker Charles H. Robinson
George MacFarlane ... (scenes deleted)


Mary Linden is the secretary who is the unheralded power behind successful executive James Duneen. He takes her for granted until rival Wales tries to take her away from him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 March 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Private Secretary See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Duneen hires Daisy at $50/week - prompting a concerned look from Mary. She had a good reason as the average salary for all workers in 1931 was $35/week, and secretaries on average made only $20/week. See more »


When Duneen stands up from sitting on the edge of his desk and moves forward and off camera to the right, his mouth moves as if saying something, but no words are heard. See more »


James Duneen: [Pats an office girl's behind] Do you pack a gun, girlie?
See more »


Three Little Words
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Ruby
Lyrics by Bert Kalmar
Played as dance music in the nightclub
See more »

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User Reviews

Stand by your man movie
9 March 2019 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

In the grand tradition of stand-by-your-man films, Behind Office Doors promotes that glorious message of olden days. Mary Astor stars as a secretary in love with one of her co-workers, Robert Ames. Thanks to her intelligence and ambition, she manages to promote Robert up the corporate ladder. Mary remains his faithful secretary, while being in love with him, and Robert repays her by ignoring her and fooling around with other loose secretaries. Mary is a very good girl, in every sense of the word, and while this pre-Code drama is extremely naughty, she isn't. In one scene, Mary discusses the price of French lingerie with her fellow secretary, and in a later scene, she finds a price tag on the floor of Robert's bedroom. In the first scene, Mary attends a party and gets kissed during a game of Blind Man's Bluff, then questioned about how far she'll go during Truth. If you like pre-Code screenplays, add this one to your list.

Mary gives a very heartfelt performance in Behind Office Doors, and while the plot and what she goes through might seem melodramatic to a modern audience, in 1931, it was serious business to be a good girl and remain so. When Ricardo Cortez offers a standing invitation to take Mary to Atlantic City, the audience knows what that means. To a modern woman, it sounds like a fun fling that can be enjoyed without any change to her reputation, but in 1931, it could be life-ruining. I do wish the end of the movie was different, but everything leading up to it was entertaining, dramatic, well-written, and well-acted. Check this movie out if you've never seen a Mary Astor movie, or if you only think of her as Marmee in Little Women. She's the lead and the star, and she holds her own as an old-fashioned girl with strong morals and a loving heart.

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