Film Review

MAN WANTED

Release Date: 23 April, 1932

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: William Dieterle

Starring: Kay Francis, David Manners, Una Merkle, Kenneth Thomson

Synopsis

Francis is the hard-working editor of 400 Magazine. Thomson, her husband, hates work and loves polo and parties. Despite their differences, Francis and Thomson pledge their love. Manners comes to Francis’s office to sell her a rowing machine; he stays as her new secretary. Manners rises quickly in the magazine staff and works closely with Francis. Soon, Manners is in love with Francis but cannot tell her. He is engaged to Merkle and plans to resign from the magazine and marry Merkle. Francis wants to stay married, but her husband has fallen in love with a woman who shares his lifestyle. Francis and Thomson separate amicably. Merkle asserts that Manners is fickle and breaks their engagement. Manners learns that Francis is getting a divorce, and Francis admits that she loves him. They plan marriage.

Discussion

Except for the reversal of the usual sex roles (a female boss and male secretary), the basic plot structure of the life-of-the-working-girl movie is retained. The secretary interacts with a boss and a boyfriend and, at the conclusion of the picture, chooses one of them. The Office Wife and Man Wanted share this basic plot and proceed to the same conclusion: marrying the boss. By reversing the sex roles Man Wanted provides a variation on the scenario.

Francis is sophisticated, glamorous, and intelligent. Manners is handsome, earnest, and bland. The cinematography by Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, 1941), with flattering close ups and superior lighting effects, adds visual appeal. In one striking scene, Manners and Andy Devine are sitting in their apartment in the evening. Their faces and torsos are lit from a window while the remainder of the room is in shadow. The set decoration emphasizes the geometric shapes of the art deco style and provides bold and attractive surroundings.