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Wife vs. Secretary(1936)

During Hollywood’s Golden Age, the studios were always on the lookout for stories that could showcase their stars. Faith Baldwin was one of their most reliable sources, selling stories and novels to Hollywood that would become vehicles for Carole Lombard, Margaret Sullavan, Henry Fonda and others. One of her best was the story “Wife Versus Secretary,” published in Cosmopolitan magazine. MGM saw the tale of a hard-working publisher whose wife suspects his devotion to work is really a growing romance with his secretary as a perfect vehicle for Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow, respectively. The role of the secretary’s boyfriend provided an early showcase for newcomer James Stewart. For Harlow, the film was the change of pace she had been fighting for, helping her shake her blonde bombshell image with the role of a working woman succeeding by her wits rather than her sex appeal. She even got to darken her hair from its usual platinum hue. Three of the studio’s best writers — Norman Krasna, John Lee Mahin and Alice Duer Miller — tailored the material to the stars’ strengths, resulting in a big box-office winner for the studio. (d. Clarence Brown, 88m, 35mm)

In attendance: DANA DELANY
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