Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
Release Date: February 28, 1936
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Gable is Van, “Jake”, or “V.S.” Stanhope, a publishing executive happily married to the elegant Linda (Loy). Tongues start wagging about Van and his beautiful secretary, Helen “Whitey” Wilson (Harlow), whom he considers a close friend and confidante, but nothing more. While trying to secretly buy rights to a magazine from a rival publisher, he sneaks around town with Whitey, finalizing the deal. As his stories become inconsistent, Linda begins to suspect him and Whitey are having an affair. So does Whitey’s patient fiancé, Dave (a youthful Stewart). Dave grows irritated that Whitey refuses to quit her job, telling her that it isn’t natural for a woman not to want to stay home and be married and have children. She breaks up with him after he insinuates her relationship with Van is indecent. Linda’s suspicions finally bubble over when Van refuses to take her along on a business trip to Havana. An emergency occurs and Van calls Whitey to Havana to help him close the deal. When Whitey answers Van’s hotel room phone at 2:00am after a long night, Linda feels she needs no further evidence and begins divorce proceedings when Van returns to New York, refusing to believe his explanations. Whitey is starting to have feelings for Van but knows that his heart belongs to Linda. She meets Linda on her cruise ship just as she is about to leave and tells her that she is a fool to let him go. In the end, Linda and Van are reunited, as are Whitey and Dave.
Watch the trailer
“Come in! Simpson, you’re late!” first line
“Don’t you ever ask me to go whale fishing!”
“What’s to prevent me from thinking of you all day?”
“There’s an old Chinese proverb that says if you want to keep a man honest, never call him a liar!”
“You know, Linda, sometimes I just sit in the office and think about us. I try to be very fair about it and I am too. And I say to myself: who are you to think you are entitled to Linda? Are you good enough for her? And I say to myself: No. Then I say to myself: Well who is entitled to her? Is anyone good enough for her? And I say to myself: No. Then I say to myself: You’re as little entitled to her as anybody else so you hold right on. And I’m holding.”
“You probably think I’m drunk, don’t you? Well you should, because I am!”
“No woman ever has enough clothes.”
“Linda!” final line
Behind the Scenes
This was Gable’s third movie in 1936. It was rushed into production because MGM was anxious to reteam Gable and Harlow after the success of China Seas. Throwing Myrna Loy into the mix was an extra bonus, since she was having a career boom thanks to the success of The Thin Man.
During production on the film, Gable finally separated from his second wife, Ria, and moved into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Gable and Loy became close friends on the set. She said he brought her coffee every morning and would read her Shakespeare and poetry in her trailer between takes.
Carole Lombard and William Powell (who was close friends with Loy and was dating Harlow) were frequent visitors to the set.