From Wilkes-Barre: “After Office Hours”

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First Posted: 10/7/2014

Back in 1935, after netting an Oscar for “It Happened One Night,” Clark Gable returned to work on back-to-back scripts by the Wilkes-Barre-reared Mankiewicz brothers.

First up for Gable was the delightful “Forsaking All Others” (1934, Warner Archive, unrated, $20), which was scripted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. A saucy Joan Crawford co-starred.

When that romantic comedy was completed, Gable jumped over to “After Office Hours” (1935, Warner Archive, unrated, $20), which was penned by Joseph’s older brother Herman Mankiewicz. It would be the first of two pictures that Gable did with Herman. Their second collaboration, “Comrade X” (1940, Warner Archive, unrated, $20), was released eight years later but, inexplicably, Herman was denied onscreen credit.

“After Office Hours” is no lost classic but it’s a whole lot of fun. Gable plays a newspaper editor determined to solve a high-society murder. When he discovers the paper’s just-fired music critic (Constance Bennett) is a friend of the chief suspect, he hires her back so she can help him unmask the killer. Naturally, the pair fall in love while trading banter about the haves and the have-nots.

As Rene Jordan wrote in his biography of Gable, the newspaper milieu is “knowingly and lovingly caught” by Mankiewicz, “down to the last wisecrack and inflection.”

Newly available on DVD, “After Office Hours” benefits greatly from Herman’s witty script and the tangy chemistry between Gable and Bennett. At its best, it’s a real firecracker.