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The Church Mouse

(1935 b 75')

En: 5 Ed: 4


Based on a play by Paul Frank and Ladislaus Fodor, a banker tries to separate business from pleasure but finds himself attracted to his secretaries.

In 1834 London banker Steele tells his clerks to use steel pens. In 1884 a typewriter is demonstrated, and Steele predicts women will work there. In 1934 banker Jonathan Steele (Ian Hunter) returns from Holland and gives orders to Sylvia James (Jane Carr) and calls Wormwood (Edward Chapman) on an intercom. Jonathan forbids perfume, cosmetics, and low necks in the office. He discharges Sylvia and asks her to be his friend. Harry Blump (Monty Banks) calls Betty Miller (Laura La Plante) to apply for the job. Jonathan gives Sylvia six months salary. Betty goes to the bank but can't see Jonathan. Harry helps her climb in the window to ask for the job; but Jonathan intends to hire a man. Betty tells Jonathan how desperate she is. She takes dictation quickly and reads it back. Geoffrey Steele (John Batten) comes in and sees that Betty is efficient. Jonathan hires Betty, who calls to order food. Jonathan gives her six pounds a week.

Jonathan takes Betty to Paris with Wormwood in a plane. Betty tells Geoffrey that Jonathan is marvelous. Geoffrey asks Betty for a date. Sylvia tells Betty that she wants to see Jonathan and that she is on that floor. Betty tells Wormwood she won't tell Jonathan about Sylvia. Jonathan comes in and says the merger succeeded. Jonathan tells Betty to go out but not with him. Betty plans to go with Oswald (Clifford Heatherly) and Geoffrey. Jonathan smells the perfume and learns that Sylvia was there; he sends Betty to get orchids for Sylvia. Jonathan gets a call from Sylvia and asks her out. Betty delivers the flowers to Sylvia, who gives her womanly advice how to be alluring. Wormwood tells Betty that important people want to see Jonathan, and she schedules them for that evening. Oswald gives Betty perfume and puts it on her. Betty sends Oswald and Geoffrey to the bar, and she apologizes to Jonathan, who admires her perfume and gown. Betty says she did what Sylvia told her. Jonathan tells Betty that he loves her and chases her. Oswald and Geoffrey come in. Betty tells Jonathan he must stay and see people, and she goes out with Oswald and Geoffrey. Sylvia calls, and Jonathan says he can't see her. Geoffrey asks Betty for a kiss.

Geoffrey tells Jonathan that Betty ran away. Sylvia invites tipsy Geoffrey into her room. Betty tells Jonathan that she quit, but he says he discharged her. Then he dictates a telegram to her mother that they are merging.

This comedy reflects social changes in the office, bringing confusion to a banker's work ethics. Sylvia represents the alluring woman and Betty the efficient secretary, but in their wholeness they are each both.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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