In New York City during the Depression, everyone suffered – especially those struggling to keep their businesses open.
One such man is Kurt Anderson (Warren William), manager of a department store in big financial trouble. The store is doing only 1/3 of the business that it did before the Depression hit.
Kurt is also a less-than-nice man who will fire long-time employees with no hesitation and hits on just about every girl he meets.
Though the store is in trouble, he makes the decision to hire a beautiful young girl named Madeline (Loretta Young) who is in serious need of a job. The catch? He gives her the job only after coercing her to spend the night with him.
Things get sticky when the new salesgirl falls for Martin West (Wallace Ford), one of the store’s rising stars who works very closely with Kurt.
With Kurt’s frustration growing as the store falls deeper into financial struggle, Madeline worries that the secret of how she got her start with the company will be revealed.
Roy Del Ruth (1941’s Topper Returns) directs 1933’s First National Pictures romantic drama Employees’ Entrance. The film is based on a play by David Boehm and was adapted for the screen by Robert Presnell Sr (1933’s The Kennel Murder Case, 1941’s Meet John Doe).
Employees’ Entrance is full of great characters, and great actors filling those roles. There’s not a wooden performance in sight.
Loretta Young stands out in her leading role, with a phenomenal amount of screen presence.
Warren William also shines, providing his character with the perfect “stern businessman” attitude and the slimy charm of a womanizer. His character is, for the most part, a deplorable man… but William plays Kurt in such a way that it’s easy to see how so many people fall under the spell of his charm. It’s difficult to hate him, even though he’s not a nice man.
My favorite performance, though, comes from Alice White. White holds a supporting role as salesgirl Polly, a very calculated and sneaky lady. The underrated actress gives a great performance, adding a whole lot of sass and a bit of comedic relief to the film.
The story is somewhat typical. A pretty, young, likable girl must contend with a sleazy businessman. The conflict is stronger than usual for this type of story, due to the added subplot of Martin West being torn between his job and his relationship. There is also added intrigue from the company’s Depression troubles, which are treated very frankly by the film, as the Depression often was during this era in filmmaking.
The story is also saved from its familiar premise by the fact that it’s very well-written. The plot feels complete and definitely packs a punch. In the beginning it seems like it’ll be predictable, but it takes a few very good turns.
Employees’ Entrance is a very honest, engrossing piece of work. It’s one of the better B-films of the early ’30s, and definitely worth a watch. The score: 4/5