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First half--brisk and funny; second half--slow and ponderous.
MartinHafer19 November 2012
"My Dear Secretary" is an odd film, as the first and last portions of the film vary so much in quality. The first is brisk and funny--the second is very slow and completely different. It's too bad because if the film could have maintained its pace, it would be an excellent and enjoyable picture. Instead, it's just frustrating to watch.

The film begins with Laraine Day being hired as a secretary to a successful writer. She's excited by this but her excitement soon wanes as she sees that her new employer (Kirk Douglas) is a very immature and undisciplined guy. Again and again, instead of working on his book, he takes the secretary and his friend (Keenan Wynn) out gambling and on spur of the moment vacations!

Despite this portion of the film being hard to believe, it was quite funny--particularly for Wynn, who provided wonderful support. However, completely out of the blue, Day (who is rather conservative) marries Douglas--a wedding that makes absolutely no sense at all. And, as if the unlikelihood of the pairing also threw the writer, the film just languished and stopped being funny. Instead, the marriage soon begins to fizzle and Douglas' attempt to write his next great novel seems to be a bust. There's more to it than this--including Day becoming a great writer herself and a divorce--but none of it made much sense or kept my interest.

Rarely have I seen such an uneven film. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did and can say it's, at best, just an amiable time-passer and nothing more.
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Enjoyable Comedy; Fun To Watch
sddavis6325 February 2008
The stars of this movie are supposed to be Kirk Douglas and Laraine Day, but it's worth saying right off the top that the movie is worth watching primarily for Keenan Wynn's hilarious performance as Ronnie Hastings. He really is the one who makes this movie.

Ronnie is a neighbour of and assistant to author Owen Waterbury (Douglas.) After writing a best-seller, Waterbury gives a lecture to a writing class and meets Stephanie Gaylord (Day.) Waterbury offers Gaylord a job as his secretary, and she accepts, but what she didn't know is that Waterbury's secretaries don't last very long. He's a bit of a playboy type, and he and Hastings always insist on a certain "type" of secretary (ie, extremely cute) and most of them don't take very kindly to being hit on as soon as they walk through the door.

Basically, this movie deals with the evolution of the relationship between Waterbury and Day. Both play their parts very well, but, as I said, the show is stolen by Wynn right from the beginning, and it all leads up to an ending (again with Wynn as the comedic centrepiece) that I didn't see coming, particularly given what seemed to be Ronnie's taste in women.

All in all, it's good, clean entertaining comedy, with a plot that admittedly gets a little bit tired by the end, but still there's quite a few laughs here. 7/10
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I sat wide eyed through much of this barely able to believe what was being said, was indeed being said
christopher-underwood29 August 2007
Where has this movie been hiding all my life? Picked it up cheaply mainly to see what a young Kirk Douglas was like, not being a particular fan of his much acclaimed later work. This is a screwball comedy that is really funny, not just because of the situations but with jokes too. I sat wide eyed through much of this barely able to believe what was being said, was indeed being said. Douglas is great and Laraine day fine but Keenan Wynn, perhaps a little influenced by Grouch Marx, is fantastic. Some really great lines and gags and only a little slapstick, mainly surrounding his attempts at domesticity. No boring passages, this is a solid romp from start to finish.

PS Just one thing, my copy is a PAL Region '0' Dynamic Entertainment release on DVD and has a poor snowy picture and a barely tolerable 'ringing' soundtrack. There seem to be various 'public domain' releases, does anyone know of a decent copy?
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My first VCR purchase in 1983
Ishallwearpurple13 February 2004
One of my favorite comedies because of the character actors. Keenan Wynns very best droll efforts as the songwriting best friend and neighbor of Kirk Douglas; Florence Bates, a busybody as the owner of the apartment building where they live; Irene Ryan, the building maid who sings "Sniff, sniff where's your handkerchief; kerchoo, kerchoo, gazundheidt to you; Let yourself go and blow; Oh, let youself go and blow" Wynns latest song; Helen Walker, one of Kirks secretaries; Rudy Vallee, as Day's former boss; and Alan Mowbray as the dense detective Kirk hires to watch Day.

As in all screwball comedies, the story is just a framework for the characters to do and say their funny business. And they don't dissapoint. Douglas is a writer who has had a successful first novel and goes to a college to give a class and meets Day who is there as a student, and he hires her as his new secretary. When she arrives the next day, after quitting as Vallee's secretary, Walker goes up in the elevator with her to retrieve her belongings because she has just quit as the last secretary. It gets crazier as Wynn answers the door and receives a slap from the mother of one of the girls Kirk has just interviewed, which he immediately passes on to Kirk. Wynn spends most of his time at Kirks trying recipes which he is hilarious preparing, but no one ever dreams of eating.

More complications and silly goings on but it is all fun and is still one of my favorite videos, which I just watched again today. My rating: 8/10.
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Diamond in the rough
cutter-1210 April 1999
An overlooked and underrated gem in the genre of American Screwball comedy, "My Dear Secretary" pits Kirk Douglas and Laraine Day together in a romantic battle of the sexes set against the literary world of the 1940's. The script, complex in its plot as one expects from these brilliant comedies from that era, is flawless, and the performances by Day and Douglas, who demonstrates an early knack for comedic acting sorely underused in most of his later films, are solid. It is Keenan Wynn however as Douglas' wisecracking best friend who does a great deal of scene stealing in one of his most memorable roles. A shame Kirk Douglas claimed a lack of affection for this picture in his autobiography as it is a real treat to watch him in this type of film. Made by low key United Artists at a time when screwball comedy was winding down, it is not hard to see why this picture was overlooked then and is all but forgotten now. In the shadow of the more famous Cary Grant and Roselind Russell et al comedies it is nevertheless an intricate and finely tuned piece of screwball which deserves better recognition. Look for it at the video store, you will pleasantly surprised. And while you're there check out "A Lady Takes a Chance" with Jean Arthur and John Wayne, another sadly under-appreciated comedy from the 40's.
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Material Too Light for Kirk Douglas
bkoganbing12 March 2005
My Dear Secretary proved one thing in the career of Kirk Douglas, comedy was not his strength.

Kirk Douglas has made a career of playing dramatic and egotistical heels, but in this case the director didn't keep him under control. I could not believe that Owen Waterbury could have anyone other than himself fall in love with him.

Plot such as it is has Laraine Day as a student becoming enthralled with writer Kirk Douglas's lecture at her night school and then going to work as his secretary. She's a budding writer also and I think you can see where the rest of this film is going.

There are some nice performances from some of the supporting players. One has to single out Keenan Wynn as Douglas's neighbor and partaker in merriment.

If My Dear Secretary was done today, Wynn's character would be openly gay instead of it just being hinted at. As it is, he camps it up to beat all the Boys in the Band.
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Everyone has to start somewhere!
Byrdz6 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Don't get me wrong. This is a sort of fun slap sticky screwball comedy from and of the 40's. It is Kirk Douglas's sixth film and he is billed second after the lovely Laraine Day. It is just two films and two years before his Academy Award winning turn in Champion in 1950. BUT Kirk is best at those scene chewing, somewhat over-dramatic, tooth baring roles. Comedy, not so much !

Keenan Wynn is fun to watch in another of his frequent appearances as best pal to the star. He has the most clever wise cracks in the film but they aren't all that funny, really. The whole deal with him using the kitchen and burning everything is just sort of annoying and goes on way too long.

Grady Sutton and Alan Mowbray are their usual competent selves. As the housekeeper there was a "Oh, wow.. looky here that's Irene Ryan, Granny from the Beverly Hillbiliiies !" Rudy Valle is sticklike as always.

The story is silly and rather garbled and total nonsense but it's a chance to see the 32 year old, on the threshold of stardom, Kirk Douglas.
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I laughed a lot
cyoder-16 May 2006
This was much funnier than I expected it to be. I had never heard of it, but it was included in a collection of "Comedy Classics" bought cheap at a dollar store. Most of the movies were dreadful, but this was one the a few that were good.

One doesn't usually think of Kirk Douglas as funny but he is in this. Irene Ryan is, also, and her character bears little resemblance to Granny. Perhaps the funniest in the cast is Keenan Wynn, who delivers some of the best lines in the movie with great flair. Some of the minor characters also very enjoyable.

The writing is also very clever and witty. Great lines abound all around.
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Few laughs but amusing character actor performances in dated screwball comedy.
mark.waltz19 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Kirk Douglas escapes from film noir to take on a less masculine character in this late entry into the romantic screwball comedy genre. He is an egotistical charmer here, a novelist who is more interested in playing around with his secretaries than actually getting any work done. But with determined Laraine Day (the "Dr. Kildare" series) hired as his new secretary, Douglas will find that the lady doesn't take nonsense. A promising writer herself, Day hopes she will turn Douglas around, but with his fun-loving pal Keenan Wynn around (always ruining the dinners he attempts to make as well as Douglas's shirts he tries to unsuccessfully iron), that is unlikely to happen. Toss in a nosy landlady (the always funny Florence Bates), a shrill maid ("The Beverly Hillbillies" Irene Ryan), a former secretary (Helen Walker), Day's former employer (Rudy Vallee), a private investigator (Alan Mowbray) and one of Day's fellow writing students (Grady Sutton), there seems to be great potential for fun. But the laughs are few and far between, which is unfortunate. The eternally grinning Douglas seems to be trying too hard to get laughs, and after a while, Wynn starts to become obnoxious. He has a few amusing cracks at Bates' expense (when invited to a party by her to play the piano, he asks, "Is it informal, or should I bathe?"), but the cooking jokes (one involving a chicken that has liquefied itself in a pressure cooker) go on too long.

There is a very funny scene involving portly secretarial candidate Jody Gilbert, a character actress I am noticing in more and more old films; a Veronica Lake look-alike (Virginia Hewitt) is also on hand, as is Gale Robbins as the "business only" beauty who takes no prisoners in her determination not to mix business with pleasure. Walker has an amusing moment taking inventory of everything in Douglas's apartment she is removing. "Queen of the Bit Players" Bess Flowers is funny in a brief scene as a society matron dancing with Wynn who excitedly asks if he is a gigolo. The film gives a look back to the work life before sexual harassment became a no-no.
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Sidekick steals the show
geobear7517 October 2015
The plot has potential on paper, but can't quite hold up on screen, despite its fun, lighthearted feel.

The main characters are horribly mismatched. Although they do have a lot in common: both are far too stubborn for their own good, with nasty tempers and both need to grow up, especially him.

The movie's saving grace, though, is Ronnie, the sidekick. He's tremendous fun! :)

I wouldn't suggest making an evening of it, but if you have some spare time to kill and don't have too high of expectations, it'll give you a few laughs.
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rmax3048236 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Since I'd bought the DVD, I watched as much of this as I did out of a sense of obligation to my wallet.

The plot has Kirk Douglas as a successful first novelist who hired Laraine Day as a secretary, falls in love, and marries her. Complications ensue.

Douglas is usually thought of as an intense actor, given to heavily dramatic roles, sometimes hero, sometimes rat. He's not bad in this thoroughly comic part. The problem is that the part isn't particularly comic and neither is anything else.

The plot rambles on. A dozen "quirky" characters come and go -- most prominently Keenan Wynn as Douglas's friend who does nothing but make wry comments. Thelma Ritter was better at this sort of thing.

Well, if the plot is weak it could still have been rescued by some sparkle in the dialog but there is none to speak of. Some gags are silly. Others don't clear that bar. Here's what I thought of as an amusing line. Douglas has just hired Day and wants to get her down to the beach house and seduce her. Day is disturbed and remarks that she's never heard of a writer working in a beach house. Wynn asks if she liked Douglas's previous book, "Last Year's Love." Yes, of course she did. "Well, most of 'Last Year's Love' was done in the beach house." Ha ha.

Nice cast, including support, but a failed comedy. There have been better sitcoms on television.
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Dreadful Waste of Time
junk-monkey10 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I'm starting to wonder, after reading some of the opinions here, if I watched the same film as the other reviewers but after checking my facts I am forced to the sad conclusion that I have.

This witless wannabee screwball comedy has to be one of the the longest 94 minutes I have spent, and one of the most unfunny things I have seen, for ages. Now don't get me wrong, I love screwball comedies, but this boring, set-bound drivel falls so far short of the dizzy heights of Preston Sturges and Howards Hawks that it doesn't deserve (to mix my metaphors) to be thought of in the same breath as those greats. Writer / Director Charles Martin's dialogue is neither witty, subtle or interesting - and there's so much of it. He doesn't know how to end a scene either, with some ruthless cutting, especially of people exiting rooms and saying goodbye to each other, the pace of film would have been lifted and then the fact that the limited number of characters are doing stupid and motiveless things for no other reason than this is supposed to be a comedy would have been a little less obvious. Characters in this movie fall in and out of love with each other, and move in and out of apartments, at a moment's notice only to move what little plot there is forward. One moment people are desperately yearning for one person, the next they are getting married to someone else - having wooed and been wooed off screen so we know nothing about it until one of the characters tells us - "Oh, they're getting married!" (usually after someone has made a faux-pas or jumped to the wrong conclusion). If we had known that these two characters were in love or supposed to be engaged before hand we, the audience, might have enjoyed the experience of watching someone making a fool of themselves in front of them. As it is the characters just come over looking like selfish, petulant idiots and we have no sympathy for any of them.

The sets are limited and the action confined to them in a way that makes the whole thing look like a badly filmed stage play. The only moments of relief from the tedium are Keenan Wynn who looks like he has wandered in from a different movie and has decided to hang around and be slightly funnier than all the unfunny stuff going on around him.

Highly avoidable.
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Can a writer change his playboy ways?
michaelRokeefe16 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Charles Martin directs this charming and entertaining, but trivial comedy. The all-star cast is the redemption of MY DEAR SECRETARY. Best-selling novelist Owen Waterbury(Kirk Douglas)proves himself to be a die-hard skirt-chaser. When an aspiring novelist Stephanie Gaylord(Laraine Day)becomes his secretary, he decides to give up squiring the ladies and puts all of his attention toward her. No sooner than they marry, Stephanie finds out that Owen's new secretary is not only intelligent, but very beautiful as well. Let the fun begin. Evocative of the 40's, this movie is pretty straight-laced. At times Douglas seems too earnest to be so tempted by women. Day exudes natural beauty. Rounding out the cast: Keenan Wynn, Rudy Vallee and Irene Ryan.
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Acting talent usurps star ego!
alexandra-255 February 2009
The hitherto under-publicised film; My Dear Secretary (1949) illustrates that lead film stars were often there as a marketing tool such as in this example of Kirk Douglas, while the real talents were the character actors, such as in the case of the multi talented Keenan Wynn - see this versatile actor in his highly adept sinister role in Kind Lady (1951). In other words Wynn is the driving force of this film as opposed to the star attraction. In this film Wynn is the comedic talent to the drab cliché straight man role of Douglas'.

Douglas here plays the role of Owen Waterbury, the egotistical writer with a misogynistic womanising streak. In this respect it could be said that Douglas was playing himself. This egotistical persona was merely exacerbated for Douglas' later heroic roles such as in Spartacus (1960). Like his role in Sparticus, in My Dear Secretary,Douglas likes to show off his masculine torso when he puts his shirt on minus vest. This is somewhat of a tribute to Clarke Glable's famous vestless scene in; It Happened One Night (1934).

Douglas' role of the writer Waterbury uses the secretarial school as a licence to his womanising ways, making passes at them and auditioning them for the role of wife, of which is eventually awarded to Stephanie Gaylord (Laraine Day) who plays his bland, docile, door mat wife. That is until she comes into her own with her own award winning novel. This culminates in the roles being reversed as Waterbury becomes the subordinate partner in their marriage. In this respect the film's denouement was ahead of its time, illustrating women as not only a success in their own right, but as the matriarchal head of the family.

Though the acting parts of Douglas and Day were stereotypically bland, the supporting cast are outstanding in their respective roles. This is especially attributed to Wynn. He alone makes the film a must see. Of course, the great Irene Ryan (Mary, the housekeeper) is adept at scene stealing in her minor role.

In sum, this is a film of talented characters with bland stars.
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Silly not funny
AAdaSC7 February 2011
Steve Gaylord (Laraine Day) has a stupid name. It's a man's name but she's a woman. Anyway, she gets a job as a secretary to best-selling author Owen (Kirk Douglas). However, Owen has no real need for a secretary and uses this position as an excuse to date lots of women with his annoying, hanger-on friend, Ronnie (Keenan Wynn). Secretaries are constantly coming and going. Indeed, Steve - who is a woman - also quits as Owen's secretary only to marry him and write her own best-selling book. Complications and misunderstandings follow before the film finally finishes.

The film is meant to be a comedy. Well, it's just not funny. The plot is ridiculous as we have Steve (who is a woman!) falling in love with Owen and marrying him at the same time as not liking him. She's about to marry Charles (Rudy Vallee) and then she's suddenly in love with Owen after so obviously wanting to see the back of him. It's a nonsense. The story is also very contrived as we have an ending with Steve mirroring the scenes that Owen played out with her at the start of the film. It's all so very obvious.

There is also a fault with the cast. While Laraine Day is mainly good in her role, despite being schizophrenic when it comes to the affairs of the heart - more to do with poor story construction, Kirk Douglas tends to overact. His reactions are over-the-top at times and not believable. His side-kick, Keenan Wynn is extremely annoying with his constant unfunny wisecracks. What exactly is his role? I suspect it is to be funny. He's not. Irene Ryan has a role as a housekeeper "Mary" and she, too, fails to come up to scratch by providing absolutely NO humour. The best character is "Felicia" played by Virginia Hewitt a Veronica Lake look-a-like who wants to break into movies and has the funniest scene in the film. She plays a complete moron very well. It's the ONLY humorous part of the film.

Don't bother with this film unless you want silly. Keenan Wynn wisecracks his way through the film, so of course, on a couple of occasions there is a good line. But it really is not good enough.
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Zany movie, fabulous script, laugh lines galore
SimonJack23 June 2010
Every line is a gag in this hilarious romp with Kirk Douglas, Laraine Day, Keenan Wynn and a great support cast. Watching this, and most other comedy romances of the 30s through 50s, it's easy to understand how so many movie fans can conclude that they don't make movies that can compare today.

Laraine Day was known mostly for her dramatic roles over the years, including some pretty good film noir. And, Kirk Douglas was more of an action and dramatic actor. But both are good in this comedy in descending straight roles for the running dialogue of wit and wisecracks carried off mostly by Keenan Wynn. The script was excellent and the combination of characters brought it all together nicely for one big hoot of a good time.

It's hard to understand the low average rating for this film. With only 350 votes as of the time of my comments, I have to conclude that, except for the few other commentors who saw the great humor, most viewers to date just don't like comedy. Or worse -- they may be modern movie mavens who don't recognize real humor. Perhaps the dialogue is over the heads of the crowds that only recognize constant blurs of mayhem, noise and motion.

Given time, and perhaps some more daytime or late night TV airing, this gem of a comedy may catch the eye and tickle the funny bone of more living and breathing humans. If you're one of those, I heartily recommend "My Dear Secretary" for an afternoon or evening of good laughs.
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I love it!
kbkrdh125 June 2002
I found this video in a dollar store one day, so I don't know if it can be found in a video store, but if you can find it, it is a lot of fun! Irene Ryan (before she was known as Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies) is funny. The running gags in this movie make this a real treat.
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qormi22 June 2019
Incredibly lousy attempt at a screwball comedy. I'm surprised Kirk Douglas' career wasn't nipped in the bud after this fiasco. Was there a writer's strike? Because it was so poorly written as to seem an intentional satire of what a lousy movie should be. How this load was shoveled into theaters across the country is beyond my comprehension.
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Yes, I know what you're thinking. And, of course, you're wrong.
JamesHitchcock23 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Owen Waterbury, a successful novelist, hires an aspiring young writer named Steve Gaylord as his secretary. This being a romantic comedy, the two end up falling in love.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. And, of course, you're wrong. This was 1948, for God's sake. Homosexuality was still, in Hollywood as in most other parts of the Western world, the love that dared not speak its name. There is no way that the Breen Office would have given their seal of approval to a rom-com about a gay love affair. Steve is a girl, and a very pretty one too. (It's short for Stephanie).

Kirk Douglas is not an actor I normally associate with comedy. Virtually all of his best films- "Young Man with a Horn", "Champion", "The Weak and the Wicked", "Lust for Life", "Gunfight at the OK Corral", "Paths of Glory", "Spartacus", "Lonely are the Brave", and so on- are serious dramas, as are most of his lesser ones. "My Dear Secretary" is a rare example of a Douglas comedy. And, for its first half, it's a pretty good one. The main joke is the difference between Owen Waterbury the great writer, whom Stephanie admires so deeply, and Owen Waterbury the less-than-great man, who she soon discovers has feet of clay. He has a massive ego and is something of a playboy and womaniser. He is unable to manage his finances and is constantly in debt, despite the large amounts he earns from writing, largely because he wastes so much on gambling. He finds it difficult to work, not so much because he is suffering from writer's block but because he would rather spend every day enjoying himself, either on the beach of (given his gambling problem) in a casino or at the races. Stephanie soon discovers that she is merely the latest in a long line of secretaries; all her predecessors have left Owen when they could not tolerate him any longer.

Stephanie, of course, does not leave Owen. Instead, she does something far more inexplicable. She marries him, despite his many all-too-obvious flaws. This plot development might have been an acceptable denouement had it come at the end of the film after a reformed Owen had changed his ways. Instead, it comes about halfway through, at a time when Owen is still far from reformed, and he proves no more satisfactory as a husband than he did as an employer. He slips back into his old ways, hiring more attractive young women as his secretaries. An even greater threat to their marriage, however, is Owen's professional jealousy when Stephanie not only has a novel published but also starts to enjoy greater success as a writer than he does.

It is round about this half-way mark that the film starts to run out of steam. It is a lot more interesting with Owen and Stephanie as boss and secretary than as husband and wife. In the second half we are supposed to accept her as simultaneously impossibly naïve (for having married a selfish egomaniac like Owen in the first place) and as impossibly saintly (for continuing to tolerate his behaviour). Kirk Douglas, on this evidence, was probably wise not to concentrate on comedy in his future career, but Laraine Day, an actress I was not previously familiar with, does enough to suggest that she had a gift for comedy and that with a better script she could have given a better performance. The script itself seems to have been written according to all the standard Hollywood rules about happy endings; it might have been better if the scriptwriters had had more freedom to disregard those rules. 5/10
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Sidesplitting Script, Highly Entertaining Cast
coffeemeetup10 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to miss with a script this witty and a cast including Kirk Douglas, Laraine Day, Keenan Wynn, Irene Ryan and other familiar faces in this high camp screwball comedy from 1949.

The story takes a back seat to the bitingly funny dialogue through most of the film, including this artful exchange between Mrs. Reese the Landlady, Felicia the gold digging Veronica Lake lookalike and Ronnie Hastings, Kirk Douglas's freeloading neighbor. They're discussing a movie to be based on Mr. Waterbury's (Kirk Douglas) new novel, and the possibility of Felicia starring in it.

Mrs. Reese: What's the heroine like?

Ronnie: It's a girl from the South.

Felicia: Why ah'm from the South!

Mrs. Reese: How perfectly coincidental!

Ronnie: She's trying to hook a rich man, she's insincere, and a moron. (to Felicia) Well what's worrying you?

Felicia: Well I'm not so worried about being insincere, but as for being a moron...

Ronnie: Now, don't worry about that.

Mrs. Reese: You could act like a moron, couldn't you, dear?

Felicia:I could trah. Oh! I'm going to dramatic school. Maybe they can teach me to be a moron!
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Charming, slight and amusing
slywlf5419 October 2013
I was one of those who found this DVD in a Dollar Store bin and took it home figuring some evening when I had nothing else to do I'd watch it for Kirk Douglas - a long time favorite actor. Well, I finally cracked the seal tonight, and I'm glad I did! This movie was a pleasant surprise. Far from perfect with the unevenness of tone commented on elsewhere, but well worth the time.

The slapstick - especially every scene so deftly stolen by Keenan Wynn - rolled along merrily. The romance was somewhat predictable, and the attitudes appear dated - well sure - the movie was released in 1948! Yet even there the film managed to defy expectations - no spoilers, but don't get too settled with how you think things will happen. While the end result may be expected the route is not! A delightful ensemble supporting cast carries their parts well, and a token stab at relevance works better than would have seemed possible in such a featherweight story.

Relax, break out the popcorn and let this sweet-natured charmer do its thing. Hopefully your copy doesn't act up and almost ruin the end as mine did - let the buyer beware - you gets what you pays for!
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Take A Letter To Three Wives
writers_reign28 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In his sixth film Kirk Douglas plays a writer who is ultimately outwritten by his wife, Larraine Day. He lives in an apartment owned by Florence Bates who is constantly around seeking favours and cannot be insulted. I'm guessing that Mank watched this one because soon afterwards he cast Douglas as an English teacher who is out-earned by his wife, Ann Sothern, who writes trashy radio serials for producer Florence Bates, who gets up Douglas's nose. Coincidence or what. That to one side this is a fine albeit obscure movie and if I have a cavil it is that the quality of the print - which I purchased in a shrink-wrapped case - was fairly poor. Second banana Keenan Wynn gets all the best lines and delivers them adeptly and also gets the pay-off laff when he introduces his new bride - Bates - to Douglas and Day. If I could score a decent print I'd watch it again.
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Decent Light Feature That Gets a Boost From the Scene-Stealing Keenan Wynn
Snow Leopard10 January 2006
Reasonable light entertainment in itself, "My Dear Secretary" gets a boost from Keenan Wynn, who in his supporting role makes a habit of stealing his scenes from the stars. The story is not especially new, but it's good enough to hold your attention. Co-stars Michael Douglas and Laraine Day do a solid job and work well together, although some of the material does not quite suit Douglas's style.

Douglas plays an eccentric and rather wayward writer, whose approach to things leads to the frequent need for a new secretary. The story starts with him and Day, as his latest employee, getting involved in a turbulent relationship with numerous ups and downs.

Wynn, as the writer's friend and assistant, and Irene Ryan ('Granny' from "The Beverly Hillbillies"), as the maid, have the enjoyable task of observing and commenting upon the writer's troubled professional life and love life. The two of them, and especially Wynn, get many of the movie's best moments. Wynn shows his knack here for making a character outrageous yet still believable.

The story works all right for the most part, and it fortunately stops before the whole premise runs out of steam. The more madcap parts are the sequences that work the best. Several of the actresses who play the writer's other secretaries give very efficient characterizations in smaller roles, and these help some of those scenes to work especially well. Helen Walker gets some good opportunities, appearing in several scenes as a previous secretary.

All the comings and goings create an overall effect of upbeat chaos that sets a good mood for the movie as a whole. Overall, it's not particularly memorable, but it's an entertaining way to spend and hour and a half.
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some stars who will be even bigger stars
ksf-22 March 2018
The plot here is just silly and inane, but you HAVE to watch this one for all the big, stupendous names. Florence Bates, (the landlord), Laraine Day, Grady Sutton (was in all those W.C. Field films), Kirk Douglas, singer Rudy Vallee, and of course Granny from Beverly Hillbillies (Irene Ryan) is the sarcastic maid. Girl (L. Day) is in the right place at the right time, and thinks it will be fun to be secretary to famous writer Owen Waterbury (Douglas), but nothing ever goes as planned. Story just goes all around the mulberry bush (there's an old saying)... but it's fun to watch the big names, as they got even bigger in hollywood. Subplot where "Stephanie" the NEW secretary observes as the previous secretary storms around and takes back all her belongings from Waterbury. kind of turns into a competition. This one is pretty good; currently showing on "Midnight Movies" channel. Picture quality is iffy... but sound is pretty good. Could probably use a restoration if there were demand for it. Some fun stars in the early hay days of hollywood, having fun. Directed by Charles Martin; not a lot of info on him.. had written and directed a few things, but not so many. Catch it if you can!
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Adorable and funny flick--perfect for girls' night!
HotToastyRag16 January 2018
Although it might not seem like it at first, My Dear Secretary is a great movie to watch if you're a feminist. Kirk Douglas plays a successful romance novelist known for his womanizing ways. It's the same routine every time he gets a new secretary, until he hires Laraine Day. She starts her new job with a little crush, that fades fast when she sees what kind of man he really is. He insists she work nights, suggests she move into his apartment, and when she tries to get him to work, he keeps making passes!

Parts of this movie are absolutely hilarious, with the endless antics involving Kirk's roommate Keenan Wynn and their attempts to dodge their landlady Florence Bates. Parts are a little quirky, and it's easy to imagine Charles Martin's script adapted into a play. Kirk and Keenan bounce off each other's comic timing wonderfully, and it's nice to see Kirk in a comedy, since he usually made such heavy dramas. If you like quirky, slightly silly romantic comedies with a heart of gold, be sure and rent My Dear Secretary with your girlfriends.
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