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Loretta Young - Star of the Month
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,Big Business Girl

Big Business Girl

"A MODERN GIRL IN BUSINESS - BIG BUSINESS. HOW FAR CAN A GIRL GO - ON BRAINS ALONE? A GOOD STENOGRAPHER OR A GOOD DANCER? WHICH WILL SUCCEED IN BUSINESS?" asks the trailer of the 1931 Loretta Young romantic comedy-drama Big Business Girl. "Women in business" was a popular theme in films of the 1930s. During World War I, women had entered the workforce en masse to make up for the shortage of men. They found, as they would during World War II, that not only did they like working away from home - they were good at it. The Great Depression made finding jobs for women more difficult, as businesses would not hire married women. For a single girl - and especially one who looked like 18-year-old Loretta Young, whose legs first attract her boss (played by Ricardo Cortez), workplace hazards went beyond worker's comp injuries - oftentimes the biggest hazard was the boss himself. As Cortez says, "A girl with a chassis like that can be a half-wit and get by." No matter how good the advertising copy she writes may be, "she's worth $75 a week as an office decoration." Loretta sets out to prove that she's worth a lot more than that.

Based on a story by Patricia Reilly and H. N. Swanson that was published in College Humor Magazine, Big Business Girl tells the story of Claire "Mac" McIntyre, a college graduate hoping to get into the advertising business, but finds that it's still a man's world. Using her skills as an ad writer and her feminine wiles, Claire rises in the company and in the boss' esteem, but when her bandleader "boyfriend" (Frank Albertson) returns from Paris unexpectedly, fists fly and a secret is revealed.

Released by First National Pictures' Vitaphone Corp. (soon to be folded into Warner Bros.), with a screenplay by Robert Lord and direction by William Seiter, the film also features Joan Blondell in a bit part as a paid co-respondent (someone hired to be "discovered" in a hotel room alone with a person who wishes to obtain a divorce), and perennial Western side-kick Gabby Hayes as a hotel clerk. The orchestra led by Frank Albertson was actually The Vitaphone Orchestra, playing hits like "If I Could Be with You."

While Big Business Girl is not particularly memorable, Mordaunt Hall, writing in the June 12, 1931 The New York Times, seemed pleasantly surprised by the film. Hall, who began his review by lamenting the number of "routine business girl films this season" he had been forced to sit through, praised the producers of the film for lifting "a familiar story of coy secretaries, leering male employers and sedulously locked office doors to the level of intelligent entertainment."

Producer: William A. Seiter
Director: William A. Seiter
Screenplay: Robert Lord (screen adaptation); Patricia Reilly; H.N. Swanson (story)
Cinematography: Sol Polito
Art Direction: Jack Okey
Film Editing: Pete Fritch
Cast: Loretta Young (Claire 'Mac' McIntyre), Frank Albertson (Johnny Saunders), Ricardo Cortez (Robert J. Clayton), Joan Blondell (Pearl), Frank Darion (Luke C. Winters), Dorothy Christy (Mrs. Emery), Oscar Apfel (Walter T. Morley), Nancy Dover (Sarah Ellen), Mickey Bennett (Joe).
BW-85m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
Trailer: Big Business Girl
Hall, Mordaunt, "Big Business Girl" The New York Times 12 Jun 31
The Internet Movie Database
Reid, John Howard, Hollywood Movie Musicals: Great, Good and Glamorous

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