Wife Versus Secretary (1936) starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, James Stewart
Synopsis of Wife Versus Secretary
Editorial review of Wife Vs Secretary courtesy of Amazon.com
For such an unheralded movie, Wife vs. Secretary provides a surprisingly satisfying time, aided immensely by the old MGM gloss and a trio of big stars. Clark Gable, so secure in his manly-man pictures, reminds us that he could be a dab hand at lightweight romance; his role is a typical Gable world-beater, a publishing tycoon with a lavish Manhattan lifestyle. But here he’s happily, blissfully married, and his scenes with wife Myrna Loy are playful and cute. The only glitch is, his secretary is Jean Harlow, and despite Gable’s fidelity, tongues will inevitably wag. Harlow here has none of the boisterous sass of her earlier pairings with Gable–she really is just an efficient and plucky secretary, even if boss and assistant trade charged glances during a business trip to Havana–and so the movie’s tone is pretty genteel.
The greenhorn James Stewart, still a couple of years from stardom, plays Harlow’s mild but suspicious suitor, and he gets stuck with obligatory dialogue urging Harlow to give up her job and settle down with him. (The movie is interesting in showing how productive and fulfilled Harlow is by work rather than marriage.) MGM mainstay Clarence Brown directed, with an approach so dignified that nothing, alas, ever gets too giddy. Still, Gable and Loy are so fun together the movie succeeds. For Thin Man fans who can’t get enough of Loy and the idea of marriage-as-playtime, this is a good fix. –Robert Horton