‘A Little Unethical, but for the Greater Good!’

After reading Rochellelynn’s Post ‘The Office Wife’ I decided to watch ‘Counselor at Law’ for myself. ‘Counselor at Law’ is a 1933 Universal (home of the Monsters) Studio diamond in the rough played behind the scenes in a collaboration of movement, and constant dialog. Screenplay for the stage and screen was written by Elmer Rice. The movie/play is set in a thriving brilliant New York City(pulled himself up out of the gutter) High Profile Defense lawyer’s office where it is the ‘Secretary’ that shines as opposed to the courtroom where John Barrymore’s Character shines. I realize John Barrymore had his demons in real life however I did enjoy his acting in this movie. Bebe Daniels character is the secretary whose ‘unrequited love’ for the boss keeps her running the office as a smoothly run well oiled machine.  Her disappointment in her bosses inability to see through the unworthiness of the ‘five year wife’ with teenage children that is more interested in her upper class prestige as the wife of a ‘high profile’ defense lawyer is evident but she never looses hope that someday he will come to his senses.  Especially since she has witnessed the wife making nice with a much younger (Melvyn Douglas), more handsome, on the take acquaintance from her uptown circle of friends. The Secretary is always there for him, no matter what.

Great character actors abound in this movie. Isabel Jewell (that 1939 ‘PoorWhite Trash Emmy Slattery’) did an excellent job as the fast talking, wise cracking, telephone operator. The sound in the movie is not great but if you can get past that it really is a Jewel of a movie. There are just too many great lines spoken in this movie to be able to quote all of them. It was fun to see Thelma Todd (who met an untimely death in 1935), Mayo Methot (the first Mrs. Bogart), John Qualen, who also appeared in the Broadway play and well a character I couldn’t really figure out. Angela Jacobs who reprised her role in the movie as Goldie Rindskopf from the Broadway play, the law partner’s secretary. She spoke only a few lines, always wore the same polka dotted dress, a couple of Italian clients made(what you imagined to be) lewd comments about her in Italian…and most camera angles of her were of her either walking away from the camera down a long hall, or towards the camera… ‘The Office Wife’ is a great theme in movies, there are a couple more that Rochellelynn recommended that I have never seen before but look forward to watching.  What a fun premise, early last century’s romantic comedy, today a potential sexual harassment suit…and this movie ends just the way I like movies to end…and although William Wyler’s ending was more of a ‘smack on the kisser’ revelation type ending, it was still a classichollywood fun movie!


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