Tuesday, June 24, 2014
'After Office Hours' DVD: Newspaperman Clark Gable Frankly Gives A Damn
Warner Archive does it again in releasing the 1935 Clark Gable/Constance Bennett comedy "After Office Hours."This film is a great follow-up to Gable's Oscar-winning role in "It Happened One Night" and provides a nice companion to the (soon to be reviewed) 1958 film Gable/Doris Day film "Teacher's Pet."
This time Gable's stereotypical irreverent and tough crusader newspaperman is Jim Branch. Equally stereotypical millionaire playboy Tommy Bannister is already on Branch's radar when the murder of the soon-to-be-divorced socialite with whom Bannister is linked sets up ear-splitting pings. The strong evidence that widower of the victim is the killer does not stop Branch from trying to prove that Bannister is the culprit.
The romantic complication this time comes in the form of society reporter Sharon Norwood, whom the gifted Constance Bennett perfectly portrays. Her first meeting with Branch results in him firing her. Their second meeting results in him rehiring her in a hilarious scene in which Branch learns that Norwood has valuable connections with the masters of the universe that interest him.
Wonderful '30s character actress (and future Glinda in "The Wizard of Oz") Billie Burke does a spot-on job as Norwood's very social-conscious mother. Her performance in the final scenes of "Hours" is particularly amusing.
Numerous opportunities that allow Gable to demonstrate his charm and wit extend well beyond his scenes with Norwood, who matches him line for line. He shines in every scene in which he appears.
Norwood providing Bannister an alibi and standing by her man in defiance of the efforts of Branch to prove his guilt trigger the inevitable conflict with Branch that leads to their equally inevitable romantic involvement. Another great element of all this is the manner in which Norwood and Bannister show that hams and eggs is not always hams and eggs.
The final confrontation between Branch and Bannister has terrific slapstick and also provides Norwood a chance to show that she can play just as rough as the boys. This Lois Lane can handle herself pretty well without Superman.
All of this amounts to a well-produced film that is still relevant today; we all fall for the wrong person (and reject the right one) at least once in our lives, and there are many cases in which an murder investigation does not focus on the actual killer.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hours" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.