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Case Number 27274: Small Claims Court

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Danger: Love at Work (1937)

Fox // 1937 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // May 1st, 2014

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All Rise...

His love of cheese prevents Judge Daryl Loomis from meeting the right person.

The Charge

Girl meets boy. Boy meets family. Boy loses mind!

The Case

In the 1950s and â60s, director Otto Preminger (Laura) would make some fantastically tense dramas and a few really great movies, but once upon a time, he was just a German immigrant looking to get into Hollywood. 20th Century Fox gave him his break and, eventually, he would make serious hay out of the opportunity, but his first project wasn't so thrilling. 1937's Danger: Love at Work isn't just a poor comedy, it's one of the most irritating movies I've watched in some time.

Henry MacMorrow (Jack Haley, The Wizard of Oz) is a young lawyer given what seems to be a simple assignment, to get the signatures from the Pemberton family for a land deal. The trouble is that, when he gets there, he discovers that the entire family is completely insane. The only reasonable member at all, Toni Pemberton (Ann Sothern, A Letter to Three Wives), though she's not all there herself. She does, however, find herself attracted to him, especially since her current fiance, motivational speaker Howard Rogers (Edward Everett Horton, Holiday) is a total jackass. Rogers, though, thinks that MacMorrow is a crook and will stop at nothing to prove it.

Some of my disdain for Danger: Love at Work is that I just don't think screwball comedies work with today's sensibilities. At their very best, like with Bringing up Baby, they remain a great amount of fun, but anything less gets to be very difficult to watch. This one is about as bad as it gets. Everybody in the movie is written as a complete caricature and nobody but the love triangle has any drama whatsoever. The family, and it's a big one, are all annoyingly quirky in their various ways, but none more than Benny Bartlett (Kid Dynamite) as the young prodigy, Junior Pemberton, who delivers one of the single most irritating child performances I've ever seen.

The only redeemable thing about this movie is the mild chemistry between Sothern and Haley. They have no real heat, but they're both charming performers, so they're okay to watch, it's just that they're mostly around the rest of the family, ruining any opportunity for enjoyment. Preminger just seems out of his depth in making screwball comedy and his is helped in no way by writer James Edward Grant's boring, lifeless screenplay. This is the kind of thing that once was forgotten and, unfortunately, has now been released.

Danger: Love at Work arrives on DVD as part of Fox's Cinema Archives collection and it's just what I've come to expect from them. The image is fine for its age, though nothing special. There's some damage to the print and the contrast isn't particularly dramatic, but it's a fairly sharp transfer, so it works. The mono sound has some background noise to deal with, but the dialog is always clear. No extras on the disc.

Maybe I just have a hard time with screwball comedy, but even at a mere 80 minutes, I couldn't take a second more of Danger: Love at Work. A lifeless, obvious story with performances that are as grating as they could be, this is one that should most definitely get skipped.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1937
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Bad
• Classic
• Comedy
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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