My Dear Secretary


1h 34m 1948

Brief Synopsis

Owen Waterbury, bestselling novelist, recruits aspiring writer Stephanie 'Steve' Gaylord as his latest of many secretaries. The stars in her eyes fade when she finds she is to work in his apartment, with a constant parade of eccentric visitors and slapstick provided by klutzy roommate Ronnie. Moreover, Waterbury's idea of work looks a lot like play, his interest less in books than in blondes. She leaves; to get her back, he swallows his playboy principles and marries her. Can the leopard change his spots? Can Stephanie turn the tables?

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 5, 1948
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 12 Jan 1949
Production Company
Cardinal Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

While giving a lecture at a night school, best-selling romance novelist Owen Waterbury meets aspiring writer Stephanie Gaylord, who is called "Steve," and asks her to become his secretary. Steve immediately quits her job of five years with publisher Charles Harris, who is in love with her, and reports promptly to Owen, only to discover that, unlike the serious, sensitive man she fell in love with while reading his novel, Owen is a gambling playboy and spendthrift. He buys minks as bonuses for his string of pretty secretaries and spends his days at the racetrack with Ronnie Hastings, his ne'er-do-well neighbor. Ronnie's endless wisecracks and bad cooking, and spontaneous visits from their eccentric widowed landlady, Mrs. Reeves, keep Owen's concentration in constant chaos. After spontaneous trips with Owen and Ronnie to the racetrack and to Las Vegas, Steve finally takes dictation for Owen at a beachhouse. Owen outlines a story in which the novel-writing protagonist is in love with his secretary, then kisses Steve, who quits. Steve hires a detective to follow her, then at a nightclub, where she is dining with Charles, asks her to dance and proposes. They elope to Las Vegas that night, and after she learns that he has spent $20,000 in advanced royalties from his next novel, they go to a mountain retreat to write. Four months later, Owen's publisher, Fulton, rejects the novel out of jealousy over his wife, Birdie, who used to be Owen's secretary. Owen now believes that having a wife as a secretary has proved too great a distraction for his writing, and fires her. Steve goes to Harris with a copy of Owen's manuscript, as well as a manuscript of her own first novel, which Owen has neglected to read. Owen later accuses Steve of having an affair with Charles, unaware that he preferred Steve's novel to Owen's, and that she turned down an offer to be published in order to spare Owen's ego. When Owen confronts Charles, Elsie, an ex-secretary of Owen who now works for Charles, tells him that she is going to marry Charles, and that Steve sacrificed her career to save her marriage. The Waterburys separate, and Steve becomes a prize-winning author. After being served divorce papers, Owen finds Steve living upstairs and walks in on her as she is interviewing a male secretary. Owen finally admits to his wife that she is the better writer, then offers to take dictation for her. She wryly dictates the story of a secretary who meets an egotistical novelist in need of a psychiatrist. When Owen asks if the secretary loves the writer, she answers, "of course." Ronnie then enters with Mrs. Reeves--his new wife--and Owen and Steve kiss.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 5, 1948
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 12 Jan 1949
Production Company
Cardinal Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8ft (11 reels)

Articles

My Dear Secretary on DVD


Kirk Douglas starring in a sex comedy in 1948? It seems hard to swallow but the results are now available on The Wade Williams Collection's new DVD release of My Dear Secretary (1948), distributed by Image Entertainment.

Kirk plays hotshot novelist Owen Waterbury, first seen lecturing a class of would-be writers. When Owen announces that he needs a new secretary, Stephanie Gaylord (Laraine Day) jumps at the chance. She is working on her own novel and thinks hearing the master dictate his new work will give her the inside path to the top. Unfortunately, all the job seems to provide is a quick trip to the bedroom. Waterbury and his live-in male friend Ronnie Hastings (Keenan Wynn) advertise for secretaries but are really looking for mistresses and Stephanie can barely get in the door for Owen's previous secretary barging out, dragging the mink coat Waterbury gave her for "services" behind her. Stephanie holds out for a ring and gets it, but it does not keep Owen from jumping back into the secretarial pool.

My Dear Secretary is exactly the kind of movie that would be a big hit in the late 1950's, early 1960's. Kirk Douglas plays the Rock Hudson role, Laraine Day the Doris Day role and Keenan Wynn the Tony Randall role. Unfortunately, this movie gives one an appreciation of how well Hudson, Day and Randall could play those parts. Kirk either plays the novelist too broadly or too seriously, which makes the character less appealing than he should be. Laraine Day gives a truly bizarre performance, a smile plastered on her face like a politican's wife, utterly insincere about everything she says. Only Wynn gives an enjoyable performance although he is miscast in a role that, in addition to Tony Randall, would have been better played by David Wayne or the young Robert Montgomery. Several usually excellent character actors are present in minor roles, although Rudy Vallee is wasted in a nothing part as is Alan Mowbray as a detective.

The strangely named producer Leo C. Popkin made My Dear Secretary as an independent feature released through United Artists and, after paying for up-and-coming stars for the film, did not have much left over for the sets which seem cramped and leave the movie with a "filmed play" look. After its release, Popkin's epic went into the public domain. The print for the DVD is advertised as ¿a pristine new film-to-video transfer from original source materials¿ and indeed, it may have come from the original negative; If it did, however, that negative was not well preserved. There are several rough-looking patches around reel changes and some nitrate damage is apparent. The DVD contains no trailer, art work, publicity material or anything else other than the main feature.

My Dear Secretary does have some laughs but, as a battle-of-the-sexes comedy from the late 1940¿s, it runs a distant second to far-superior Spencer Tracy ¿ Katharine Hepburn movies such as Adam¿s Rib (1949). This DVD is more for the Kirk Douglas completists than the average fan.

For more information about My Dear Secretary, visit Image Entertainment. To order My Dear Secretary, go to TCM Shopping.

by Brian Cady
My Dear Secretary On Dvd

My Dear Secretary on DVD

Kirk Douglas starring in a sex comedy in 1948? It seems hard to swallow but the results are now available on The Wade Williams Collection's new DVD release of My Dear Secretary (1948), distributed by Image Entertainment. Kirk plays hotshot novelist Owen Waterbury, first seen lecturing a class of would-be writers. When Owen announces that he needs a new secretary, Stephanie Gaylord (Laraine Day) jumps at the chance. She is working on her own novel and thinks hearing the master dictate his new work will give her the inside path to the top. Unfortunately, all the job seems to provide is a quick trip to the bedroom. Waterbury and his live-in male friend Ronnie Hastings (Keenan Wynn) advertise for secretaries but are really looking for mistresses and Stephanie can barely get in the door for Owen's previous secretary barging out, dragging the mink coat Waterbury gave her for "services" behind her. Stephanie holds out for a ring and gets it, but it does not keep Owen from jumping back into the secretarial pool. My Dear Secretary is exactly the kind of movie that would be a big hit in the late 1950's, early 1960's. Kirk Douglas plays the Rock Hudson role, Laraine Day the Doris Day role and Keenan Wynn the Tony Randall role. Unfortunately, this movie gives one an appreciation of how well Hudson, Day and Randall could play those parts. Kirk either plays the novelist too broadly or too seriously, which makes the character less appealing than he should be. Laraine Day gives a truly bizarre performance, a smile plastered on her face like a politican's wife, utterly insincere about everything she says. Only Wynn gives an enjoyable performance although he is miscast in a role that, in addition to Tony Randall, would have been better played by David Wayne or the young Robert Montgomery. Several usually excellent character actors are present in minor roles, although Rudy Vallee is wasted in a nothing part as is Alan Mowbray as a detective. The strangely named producer Leo C. Popkin made My Dear Secretary as an independent feature released through United Artists and, after paying for up-and-coming stars for the film, did not have much left over for the sets which seem cramped and leave the movie with a "filmed play" look. After its release, Popkin's epic went into the public domain. The print for the DVD is advertised as ¿a pristine new film-to-video transfer from original source materials¿ and indeed, it may have come from the original negative; If it did, however, that negative was not well preserved. There are several rough-looking patches around reel changes and some nitrate damage is apparent. The DVD contains no trailer, art work, publicity material or anything else other than the main feature. My Dear Secretary does have some laughs but, as a battle-of-the-sexes comedy from the late 1940¿s, it runs a distant second to far-superior Spencer Tracy ¿ Katharine Hepburn movies such as Adam¿s Rib (1949). This DVD is more for the Kirk Douglas completists than the average fan. For more information about My Dear Secretary, visit Image Entertainment. To order My Dear Secretary, go to TCM Shopping. by Brian Cady

Quotes

Is it informal, or shall I bathe?
- Ronnie Hastings
I made a wedding breakfast...spaghetti and meatballs.
- Ronnie Hastings
I guess I'll run along.
- Mrs. Reeves
Must you go? I was just poisoning the tea.
- Ronnie Hastings

Trivia

Notes

Charles Martin's onscreen credit reads "Written and directed by Charles Martin," and Rudi Feld's onscreen credit reads "Production designed by Rudi Feld, Art Director." The film was the initial producing effort of Harry M. Popkin for United Artists release. As reported in Hollywood Reporter on February 18, 1948, when Popkin first bought the rights to the story-for $100,000-the film adaptation was scheduled for a Twentieth Century-Fox release. Although the film was previewed at a length of 83 minutes, it was released at 94 minutes. In July 1953, Hollywood Reporter announced that the film would be re-issued by Beverly Pictures.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 5, 1948

Released in United States Fall November 5, 1948