Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, February 13, 2023


 His Private Secretary.  Starring Evalyn Knapp, John Wayne, Reginald Barlow, Alec B. Francis, Arthur Hoyt, and Natalie Kingston; also featuring Al St. John.  Directed by Phil Whitman; written by Lewis D. Collins, Jack Natteford, and Sam Katzman (who was also the film's producer).  Screencraft Productions, 1933.

Here's an early, low-budger rom-com starring a very young John Wayne in one of his first starring roles.  Wayne, who had already made a few westerns, got second billing in this one behind Evalyn Knapp, who was one of 1932's WAMPUS stars, along with Gloria Stuart and Ginger Rogers and others.   The same year she appeared in His Private Secretary, she had the title role in the serial The Perils of Pauline.  The following year, she was the leading lady in Gene Autry's In Old Santa FeHer B-movie career died out in the late 1930s-early 1940s; her last credited role was in 1941.

His Private Secretary is an interesting film despite its low budget and (necessarily) shoddy production values.  (The film's budget was $9600, but Katzman had only $2500 available -- the rest of the budget was deferred.)   It's a slight, by-the-books piece that has its own little charms, not the least of which was the nascent star-power of its lead actor.  Wayne plays the playboy son of a big businessman, more intersted in parties and girls than anything else, to his father's frustration.  He meets and falls in love with the granddaughter of a small-town preacher, and -- after some predictable ups and downs -- marries her.  His father does not want to meet her and assumes she's a gold-digger.  She ends up as his private secretary but he has no idea who she really is.  Predicable confusion follows, to culminate in a happy ending.

With a larger budget and a larger studio, this one could have been a contender.

Enjoy this Valentine's Day treat.

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