Sunday 29 July 2012

Film Review: "Beauty and the Boss" (1932)

This is a review of the second last and my favourite  film in my Marian Marsh series, "Beauty and the Boss" (1932).


Suzy Sachs (Marian Marsh) is what they call a ‘Church Mouse’. She is poor, unemployed, voiceless and part of the thousands of other girls in the same situation. Suzy spends her days spying into shop windows staring enviously at strangers and their hot meals as well as looking for work.

On her daily rounds, she enters the office of Baron Josef von Ullrich (Warren William) the head of a profitable and powerful banking firm. She tricks the Baron into seeing her and he is instantly amazed by her energy, brains and efficiency and immediately employs her. However, the Baron being a man of discipline and business sees Suzy only as a machine and likes to enjoy his pleasures outside of business hours.

Soon she is accompanying the Baron on a business deal in Paris along with the young and handsome Baron Paul von Ullrich (David Manners) and the Count von Tolheim (Frederick Kerr). Suzy longs to experience the Paris nightlife and to be admired but Baron Josef is all business; although, Paul seems to have developed a crush on her.

To Suzy’s surprise, beautiful women of the world begin appearing in her office wanting to see the Baron, she – disgusted and a little envious – refuses them entry and the Baron is unaware of his visitors. Finally, the merger is successful, with the help of Suzy; the company has made a large profit from the deal. Elated, the Baron suggests Suzy goes out and sees Paris accompanied, not by him, but the delighted Frederick and Baron Paul. Angry, Suzy confesses that she has kept women from seeing him and he immediately sets up a date with his favourite and ex-secretary Ollie Fray (Mary Doran).
Baron and his list of women
Suzy goes up to Ollie’s hotel room ready to scold her but in the process finds out what she really wants out of life and is determined to go on the town lively, beautiful and irresistible. The Church Mouse has blossomed into a beautiful butterfly and intends on attracting the Baron’s attention and love – but not with some help from his favourite “mistress”.  
Suzy confronts Ollies


This is my favourite Precode Marian Marsh. She is beautiful, joyous and enchantingly sweet and naïve. Like, in “Under 18” (1931), Warren William is her love interest as the efficient, capable business man whose mind turns to alluring women when the working day is over. These women, of which there are many, create the Precode moments that make this film truly modern and adult. My favourite is the seductive and much overlooked Mary Doran. She is a woman of the world, with lovely lingerie and perfume and knowledge of how to seduce a man. Mary is fabulous as the sweet Ollie with hard edge who tries to catch the Baron. Although, perhaps she is overtaken by the enchanting Marion in the final scenes with her flattering white gown, crimped hair and makeup. Her transformation is wonderful and I can see why all the men fawn over her.
Like most of Marian’s films, Precode moments seem to creep in, there is several mainly shots of lingerie and the revealing flash of one of Barons many admirers nude in the bathtub.

Also the Baron’s aid Ludwig (Charles Butterworth) appears to go on a binge late in the movie indulging in women, alcohol and several Moulin Rouge type shows. Lastly, you can’t forget Warren whose films always have sexual innuendo and sly comments which this film has plenty.

Ollie's Innuendo

“I’m hanging over your head like a ripe peach, if you’d only give the tree a little shake.” Ollie Fray

"I know I’m not much out of the ordinary – a little bit pretty, a little bit wise, a little bit willing, a little bit absent minded.” Ollie Fray
“Are you absent minded tonight?” Baron
“Oh, very.” Ollie Fray

This film perfectly displays Marion’s charm and screen persona. I’m happy in the fact that it doesn’t have as many poverty/ depression-era scenes, such as, the ones in ‘Notorious but Nice” or “Under 18” that I think made it more light and enjoyable. It was a lovely rags to riches, Cinderella cross with Beauty and the Beast story perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.       

This is a long quote but it is my favourite scene of the film between Ollie Fray and Suzy Sachs:

“What a child you are, don’t you know when a man is told he can’t see a woman, nothing keeps him from her. Tonight you turned me into a sort of forbidden fruit. And you remember what happened to Adam.” Ollie Fray
“Yes he got mixed up with a snake.”
“Well you’ve thrown him right into the snakes arms.” Ollie Fray
“How vulgar you are.” Suzy Sachs
“If its vulgar to be in a man’s arms, I hope I never get refined.” Ollie Fray
“He’s different he’s not the sort to fall for a person like you.” Suzy Sachs
“What’s the matter with me?” Ollie Fray
“You’re nothing just beautiful that’s all.” Suzy Sachs
“Since you’re tossing around bouquets I’ll hand you one.  You’re a quite very pretty girl yourself, a very decent figure, a very sweet little shape but it’s no use to you, you don’t know what to do with it.” Ollie Fray
“What do you mean by that?” Suzy Sachs
“You don’t know how to make men realise you have it. Your one ambition is to be a perfect machine. But you’ve never learned how to be women.” Ollie Fray
“I don’t know what he sees in a creature like you.” Suzy Sachs
“He sees someone who’s warm and human. Whose skin is soft and perfumed and who isn’t afraid to let herself go. He’s a live wire.” Ollie Fray

Blink and you will miss it....

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