Sunday, December 03, 2017

Tonight's Movie: She Had to Say Yes (1933) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Loretta Young stars in the pre-Code melodrama SHE HAD TO SAY YES (1933), recently released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

For my money SHE HAD TO SAY YES is one of the "pre-Code-iest" films out there -- and given current events, this look at women being mistreated in the workplace couldn't be more timely, over eight decades after its release.

Loretta Young plays Florence, a stenographer caught between two creeps. Florence's fiance Tommy (Regis Toomey), an executive at Florence's office, initially seems like a good guy but turns out to be a villain, two-timing Florence, while Danny (Lyle Talbot) initially seems like the villain, only to turn into a nice guy...and then swing back and forth a couple more times. He may be a marginally better person than Tommy, but the idea that Florence must choose between this pair is depressing.

The craziest part of the fast-moving 65-minute plot comes when Tommy decides that out-of-town buyers are unhappy with the brash types of girls who usually "entertain" them, so the company will ask their "nice" but attractive stenographers to entertain the men instead.

Tommy initially refuses to let Florence go out with a buyer, then turns on a dime and manipulates her into doing just that, going out with Danny. Rather than being appreciative of Florence's loyal cooperation, Tommy then resents Florence doing what he asked and questions her virtue.

Later, after Florence helps Danny land a contract with Luther Haines (Hugh Herbert), Danny then questions whether she's a "nice" girl as well! Poor Florence can't win for losing. It's almost impossible to keep up with the men's hypocrisy, although that's also part of what makes the movie so fascinating.

As I wrote when I first saw the film in 2010, the movie "will make the women in the audience want to smack every man in the cast." Now more than ever!

The women in the film, with Florence front and center, are manipulated, physically assaulted, unappreciated, criticized and have their integrity questioned by men who then turn around behind their backs and carry on with other women. It's a highly entertaining film, but you'll watch it with your jaw dropped to the floor and your head spinning. And needless to say, watching it in the current news environment gave the story particular resonance.

This film was codirected by Busby Berkeley and George Amy; it was Berkeley's first directing credit. The movie was filmed in black and white by Arthur Todd.

The print was generally good although there was one scene with some odd black lines on the screen. There are no extras on the disc.

Loretta Young fans may be interested to know that along with SHE HAD TO SAY YES, the Warner Archive has released another Young pre-Code, BIG BUSINESS GIRL (1931). I reviewed BIG BUSINESS GIRL earlier this year on the Warner Archive Instant streaming service.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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