Thursday, February 21, 2013

After Office Hours (1935)

The year before After Office Hours Clark Gable played fast talking reporter Peter Warne in It Happened One Night. Louis B. Mayer thought he was punishing Gable by sending him to a lesser studio than MGM but the film went on to be one of Gable’s most famous roles and film. Mayer the next year decided to cast Gable in After Office Hours not as a low class reporter but as an editor. He also decided throw in a little class, since we know that MGM was all about being classy, by making Constance Bennett a society girl who wants to work as a newspaper reporter. Gable’s character in this film starts out fast talking and silly like Peter Warne but since this is MGM Gable is more sophisticated and not as silly especially when his character wants to work his way up into high society.
            Jim Branch (Gable) wants to cover a scandalous divorce between a husband and wife with a younger man thrown into the mix. Jim sees that there is much more than what meets the eye with this divorce. His boss wants him to throw the story out because the young man Tommy Bannister has a future political career and the boss wants to be able to get Tommy into Congress. Jim is upset to hear this because he helped the paper up from nothing and made into a popular paper but he agrees to end the story.
            Working in the office is Sharon Norwood (Bennett). She comes from a wealthy family but she wants to work for a newspaper. Sharon has been working at the paper for two weeks. Jim calls Sharon into his office and for some reason I cannot remember fires her. That night Jim takes a girl friend to a play. They get to the theater at intermission but that was Jim’s whole idea. He knows Tommy Bannister and the divorcée Julia Patterson will be there. He was right Tommy would be there but he was not counting on his date being Sharon. Jim immediately wants Sharon back at the office in the morning but she throws it back in her face that she was fired that afternoon.
            When Sharon gets home she finds Jim there chatting very nicely with her mother (Billie Burke). As her mother is in the kitchen Sharon and Jim begin to talk and come to like each other. The following night Jim takes Sharon to a club where he knows yet again Tommy Bannister as well as the Pattersons will be. Sharon is friends with all of them since they are all in the same social circle. Jim gives whatever scandal he has made up an extra push by egging Bannister and Mr. Patterson into an argument. Sharon has enough of Jim and leaves with Tommy. Tommy takes her to his boat house. He notices Julia coming by in her boat. Julia saw him leave with Sharon and she tells him that she does not want what happened to her and her money to happen because of him to Sharon. Tommy accidentally strangles Julia. Sharon is upstairs the whole time but because of the record player being on she heard nothing.In the morning Jim goes to Sharon’s apartment to tell her about Julia. Julia was found dead in her home apparently having died because her husband was drunk.
            Jim is the only one who thinks Julia was killed by Tommy. He wants Sharon’s help in catching Tommy but she refuses since he is her friend.
            Constance Bennett and Clark Gable were wonderful together they had perfect chemistry. Bennett was such a good actress and always seemed to have great chemistry with whatever actor she was starring with. Honestly I think the woman could have had chemistry with a stick she was so good. Gable always played a tough guy and I think Bennett always played a tough lady which made them a great screen pair. Billie Burke was annoying as usual but for some reason I get a kick out of seeing her in films. Maybe that is because I am so used to seeing her as Glinda the Good Witch.
            After Office Hours is a good mix of comedy and drama. The dialogue is fast paced and witty delivered with brilliance by Clark Gable and Constance Bennett. Hopefully After Office Hours will be released on DVD one day, I would very much like to own it.

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