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  • I knew virtually nothing about this movie before I saw it. At one time I may have seen that Leonard Maltin thought highly of it but Leonard has thought highly of more than a few duds. However, this was anything but a yawner!! That I have always thought W. S. Van Dyke was unappreciated as a director may also be a factor in my opinion of the movie.

    I found Penthouse to be thoroughly enjoyable. Although never a big Warner Baxter fan, he was very convincing as an ostracized `society lawyer'. Loy, who was directed by Van Dyke in three of her best pre-Nora movies, is what can only be described as a call girl. Loy as a call girl is not nearly as difficult to believe as the name of the character she plays, Gertie Waxted. Myrna never remotely looked like a Gertie Waxted, regardless of her occupation and any call girl with a name like Gertie Waxted would have changed it.

    I would imagine this was released pre-code during 1933 because the innuendo between Baxter and Loy was anything but subtle especially the first night and morning after Loy spends in Baxter's apartment (in separate rooms). The exchange where Myrna tells Baxter she was disappointed she did not have to defend her honor the previous evening is classic. At the same time, one has the opinion she would not have put up much of a fight. The supporting cast of Butterworth, Clark, Nat Pendleton, one of my all-time favorites, and Gordon is excellent. Butterworth's deadpan `I hope this will teach Mr. Durant (Baxter) only to take murderers from the best families' line at the end of the movie is unforgettable.

    The Plot Summary accurately describes the situation so there is no need to dwell on it here. The two aspects of the plot that carry the movie are Loy as a very believable call girl and Pendleton as a gangster who is devoted to Baxter for getting him off on the proverbial murder wrap. To most classic movie fans, Loy is Nora Charles, William Powell's wife or Milly Stephenson. Loy as a believable call girl is no easy feat. In post-code Manhattan Melodrama one had to read between the lines to see anything wrong with Myrna as Blackie's girl who moves over to William Powell. In Penthouse, Myrna as a call girl punches you in the face.
  • Quite decent crime mystery starring Warner Baxter as Jack Durant, a society lawyer who gets dumped by his law firm as well as his snooty girlfriend who doesn't want to marry a "gangster lawyer" (as she calls him) because he likes to defend criminal types such as gangsters, racketeers, bootleggers, and the like (doesn't fit in with her tennis, yacht dances, and lawn party lifestyle, I guess). Anyway, this gal immediately becomes engaged to a young "Park Avenue" man who soon gets arrested for murder - and Durant sets out to prove this young man was framed, along with the help of a gangster pal named Tony and Durant's newest female interest, a woman (played by Myrna Loy) who was best friends with the "night club hostess" who was murdered.

    This is an entertaining film with engaging story that held my interest. The story is somewhat predictable, but very interesting to watch with well done performances by all. I enjoyed Myrna Loy in this (though she is resigned to wearing the same big-front-bowed evening gown just about the entire film). Warner Baxter is handsome and smooth here - there is some amusing bedroom talk between him and Loy where she seems to want to spend the night with him, he wants to hold back and play the "gentleman". Nat Pendleton is fun here as Tony, the gangster with a good sense of humor. Quite good.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I bought the "Rediscovering Myrna Loy" laser disc set six years ago because it contained MANHATTAN MELODRAMA. Somehow, the rest of the movies in the box "fell through the cracks" and I did not watch any of the others until I "rediscovered" the box three weeks ago.

    I put this movie on and both my wife and I were astounded. It was like finding a diamond in a pile of stones.

    Myrna Loy, as a high-class "call girl," is thoroughly believable and I wonder why she didn't play many more parts such as this (not that she needed to! Her career was just fine!). The closeups of her face are absolutely fantastic. Her expressions and her acting are positively first-class. Plus she's downright beautiful! The rest of the players are terrific too and make this one of the most enjoyable films I have seen recently. (I have watched it three times so far.) Nat Pendleton, always a pleasure to have in a movie, is just great in the role of an "Al Capone-like" gangster (but with a heart of gold), and Charles Butterworth is, well, Charles Butterworth. Warner Baxter is an excellent lead (this was made the same year as 42ND STREET) and the chemistry between him and Loy is just a pleasure to see.

    I love risqué lines and innuendoes and this picture is loaded with them. I don't really think the following is a "spoiler," as it is very funny, but don't read it if you don't want to: as Warner Baxter, who is really beginning to like (and respect) her, leaves the bedroom after Myrna Loy is certain that he's going to sleep with her, she looks in the mirror with a horrified expression of "Why did he leave? Is there something wrong with me?" The moment is absolutely priceless and my wife and I both broke up so that we couldn't go on for a moment (it's great to have a "pause" button).

    By the way, not only is it a comedy, but it's also a suspense picture which will have you on the edge of your seat. They REALLY DON'T make them like this anymore! I would really love to see this picture with an audience! It would be a great crowd-pleaser.

    I highly recommend it to everyone.
  • This film contains all the elements of a great gangster story. It is a perfect example of 1930's big city gangster films. Yet it does not fall into a stereotypical mold at all. It is entertaining throughout. Just when you think it is going one way, it goes the other, building the suspense and irony until you realize it is not going to be a typical story.

    All the players keep in character and hold your attention with crisp and refreshing dialogue. Baxter and Loy are so in tune with one another, and you do not get the feeling they are acting.

    And isn't it neat to see Nat Pendleton play a smart, in-charge guy for once, instead of just a bumbling half-wit mob henchman. (Though he is always likable in that role, it surprised me to see what a smart guy he really was!) The plot of this film is genre-based, yet quite original and full of all the necessary elements: virtue, vice, mystery, false suspicion, resolution of mystery, resolution of false suspicion, romance, heavy action, jazz, and many doors that seem to want to open, but just the right ones open at just the right intervals to keep you entertained throughout this gem of a film.
  • An honest lawyer (Warner Baxter) is in a jam. A friend of his ex (Phillips Holmes) was been wrongfully accused of murder...but nobody will trust him or confide in him because of his reputation. But a friend (Myrna Loy) of the murdered girl agrees to help him. There's a lot more twists and turns in this movie but you should see it to find them out.

    The movie movie moves like lightning, has a sharp, snappy script and a cast of actors giving it their all. There's also pretty frank sexual innuendo between Baxter and Loy (I'm assuming this was a pre-Code film). Well worth seeing.

    For some reason this is a forgotten movie. It's a shame because this is really a great little picture. Maybe the lack of stars (except for Loy) keeps this off the radar. This is well worth rediscovering.
  • MikeMagi29 March 2007
    "Penthouse" is a first-rate example of "they don't make 'em like that anymore." The tale of a society lawyer turned criminal defense attorney -- out to prove the innocence of the accused murderer who waltzed off with his fiancée -- zips along. The dialog of the fabled Hackett-Goodrich team is sassy and clever. The relationship between lawyer Warner Baxter and Nat Pendleton as the racketeer who's his guardian angel perks up the plot. But it's Myrna Loy as the call girl who joins forces with Baxter to nail the real killer who shines. There are certain people the camera finds irresistible. And here, as the most lovable fallen woman of the pre-code era, Loy demonstrates the impish allure that would light up the screen for years to come.
  • Penthouse (1933)

    *** (out of 4)

    Warner Baxter plays a lawyer who has a reputation of getting guilty men off with murders but in reality he takes those who look guilty and proves their innocents. After getting a gangster off for murder, he gets involved with a new case where a friend of his is accused of murder and the only way to break through the case is by taking up with a gangster moll (Myrna Loy). I was really looking forward to this film, which many (including Maltin) talk up as a major gem of the decade and while I wouldn't go that far the movie is still pretty good. I think the biggest benefit here is that we get a lot of pre-code material including Baxter and Loy spending the night together, some sexual innuendo and most important is the sight of blood coming out of bullet holes, which wasn't seen in some of the major gangster films of the era. Another major plus are the performances with Baxter and Loy doing great work and really having great chemistry together. Moy easily steals the film in a very sexy performance that gives her quite a bit of range in terms of her character development. The supporting cast includes Charles Butterworth, Mae Clarke, C. Henry Gordon, Nat Pendleton, Raymond Hatton and George E. Stone. I think the film gets a little long winded in the middle but in the end this is another winning picture from the director and certainly worth watching when it pops up on Turner Classic Movies.
  • Had no idea just what this 1933 film was all about and if I would even be interested and was greatly surprised at how great it really was way back when. Warner Baxter,(Jack Durant) played the role of a crooked Lawyer who was being brought up on criminal charges. Myrna Loy,(Gertie Waxted) plays the role of a hostess, prostitute and all around well experienced girl who has been around the block many many times. Mae Clarke,(Mimi Montagne) gave an outstanding performance in this story that has many interesting twists and turns that will keep you guessing just how this picture will end. Myrna Loy did an outstanding performance and made this a very different kind of film which is not very well known.
  • There is lots of entertainment value in this picture - quality acting, sharp dialog, quick pace - but those who are looking for a story based in realistic circumstances may be disappointed. Despite there being a goodly number of unsavory types among the characters, just about everyone comes across as clean-cut, friendly, ready with a smile, and not the least bit threatening. This takes the sharp edge off a picture with lots of promise in its early development. Nat Pendleton plays a crime boss as if he hasn't a care in the world, more than ready to use his resources to make others happy. The Myrna Loy character is appealing (much as her Nora Charles was), but defies explication: charming, intelligent, well-mannered and well-spoken, but content to serve the paying customers as a hostess/bar girl/prostitute. It just doesn't add up. Mae Clark, as a less refined colleague, is much more believable.

    [Don't fail to notice the latter, in a fit of anger, ready to throw a perfume bottle against the wall, then noticing the label and substituting a lesser brand; or Loy, keeping her composure as Warner Baxter chooses not to remain in her assigned room for the night, then immediately surveying her looks - right profile, left profile, hair, makeup - in a mirror, wondering if something has been lost.]

    The picture needs more grit, given its subject matter. Comic relief from Charles Butterworth and Tom Kennedy are just what it doesn't need.
  • This film was made a year before Myrna Loy catapulted to super-stardom with the Thin Man movies. At this point in her career, she was still a relatively unknown actress with a long but generally undistinguished track record. Warner Baxter, on the other hand, was the bigger star--with starring roles in 42ND STREET, THE CISCO KID (and its sequel) and THE SQUAW MAN.

    Stylistically, the film is actually a lot like Baxter's B-movie series, The Crime Doctor, though in this case he plays a defense attorney who investigates crimes instead of a criminal psychiatrist who investigates crimes. Additionally, PENTHOUSE has a bit more style, polish and better acting than the Columbia Pictures series.

    The film begins with Baxter getting a big-time hood off for a crime he apparently did not commit (for once). However, in a odd scene, the other lawyers in the practice vote him out because they don't want to be associated with such riffraff and attorneys who defend them (Ethics and a law practice?!?! What planet did these lawyers come from anyway?!?!). Additionally, Baxter's stuck up fiancée breaks it off with him because of the unsavory element he chooses to defend. However, Baxter really isn't a jerk lawyer--he just feels that IF the guy is actually innocent, he deserves a strong defense attorney (duh). But in this bizarre As I said above, this is a film with the odd idea of an attorney PERSONALLY investigating and solving crimes which his friends or clients are accused of committing. In reality, this never happens and I can't imagine Johnny Cochran or Robert Shapiro doing this and it's a cliché you just have to accept or else the film makes very little sense.

    Along for the ride are Loy, Nat Pendleton (in one of his better and richer supporting roles) and a variety of other familiar faces (including veteran B actor, George E. Stone). It won't change your life and is a tad silly, but so well done that it's easy to forgive and enjoy.

    By the way, having Myrna Loy stay in Baxter's apartment (even though they were in separate rooms) probably never would have gotten past the censors just one year later after the new Production Code would be enacted. Nor would a single man (Baxter) have been allowed to show a single girl around his bedroom.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ..... maybe it's her breezy insouciance, her light hearted way with a line or her captivating beauty. Whatever it is, she is the reason to remember this movie. After years of apprenticeship, including a stint as Anna May Wong's greatest rival she was finally coming into her own as a unique player full of charm and individuality. But by 1933 Mae Clarke must have finally realised that stardom was never going to be hers although she continued to give strong note worthy performances - just a little lower down the cast lists.

    When dazzling lawyer Jackson Durant (Warner Baxter) refuses payment for getting off notorious gangster Tony Gazzoti (Nat Pendleton) saying he did it just for fun, his staid law partners are not amused. Gangsters, chorus girls and boot leggers excite him more than drawing up wills for little old ladies wanting to leave their fortunes to their pets but his partners don't share his views and so he is let go. He is also given the cold shoulder by most of his society friends - all except Tom Siddal (Phillips Holmes), and his fiancée calls off their engagement. This suits Tom as he has been in love with Sue (pretty Martha Sleeper) for years but has to break off with his mistress, Mimi (Mae Clarke who was actually dating Phillips Holmes at the time) first and things don't go smoothly.

    Next thing, Jackson is visited by Sue who begs him to take up Tom's defence. He has been charged with the murder of Mimi who has been shot on the roof of the penthouse. You can't mistake this movie for any other than a pre-coder - the chemistry between Warner Baxter and the alluring Myrna Loy (well she really tries to make the chemistry happen, even though she spends most of the movie in this awful evening dress with a huge floppy bow in the front!!). She plays Gertie, Mimi's best friend and maybe the key to solving the murder. To pick her brain, Jackson has Gertie stay at his apartment, they even have matching pyjamas but she can't hide her disappointment when he directs her to the spare bedroom!! He says "I'm afraid you'll think I'm taking advantage of you" She says "I'm afraid you won't"!! He also says "I've been very stupid" to which she replies "Of course, you're a man"!!!

    All roads lead to Levitoff, a shifty pawn broker who seems to have his finger in all types of criminal activities as well as owning the building where Jackson is convinced the gun was fired from.

    Phillip Holmes was an actor who had had some build up in the very early 1930s but by now was playing very supporting roles of callow youths eg "Beauty for Sale". His role in "Penthouse" was more of the same with just more depth, even though he disappeared from the film quite early.
  • Maybe I was expecting too much, given the superior ratings from Maltin and TCM. It's a good film but hardly memorable. The plot itself amounts to a routine crime plot—not really a mystery. However, the movie's strengths are not found in the storyline. Rather they're found in the characters and in a provocative subtext. Baxter's excellent as the shyster lawyer who pretends to principles even as he maintains underworld ties (Pendleton). Holmes, Clarke, and Sleeper are also excellent as attractive youngsters; at the same time, it's too bad they drop out of the story as soon as they do.

    Nonetheless, reviewer Neil Doyle is right, although it's probably an unpopular opinion— Myrna Loy is indeed miscast as a call girl. She's got all the properly suggestive lines, but her natural bearing and classy demeanor are simply unsuited to a wanton role. My guess is that the producers wanted a classy dame since Baxter must end up marrying her. Still and all, those traits that make her such a perfect Nora Charles, also make her an implausible call girl. All things considered, Clarke would have been more suitable as the call girl, but marrying her brassier character would have also been less believable. So I guess the producers were in something of a bind.

    There is of course a lot of naughty innuendo as can be expected from this pre-Code era. But what surprises me in the subtext is the forced confession from pint-sized Murtoch (Stone). It's not just Durant (Baxter) who's threatening to shoot a man and frame the little gunsel. It's the cops too, including police Lieutenant Stevens (O'Connor), and no one appears surprised that the cops would collude in such a heinous criminal act. It's as if in this film, they do it every day. No wonder the impending Production Code put such rigid strictures on how cops could be portrayed, given the social unrest of the time. On the other hand, 1933 is also the headline era of Capone and a wide-open city of Chicago, so maybe the script is not far off the mark, after all.

    Anyway, I guess from other postings that Pendleton's rather comedic Tony Gazotti is a matter of taste. I would have preferred a harder case gangster that would have made Baxter's Durant an even more ambiguous character than he is. Nonetheless, the number of nice touches (the elevator man; the brassy girl leaving the bar), along with Van Dyke's smooth direction, help make this an interesting and entertaining 90 minutes. But 3.5 stars out of 4 (TCM), it's not.
  • As I started watching Penthouse this afternoon, I knew I had seen this before. It turns out I reviewed another remake of this film that MGM did in 1939 entitled Society Lawyer that starred Walter Pidgeon and Virginia Bruce playing the parts that Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy played here.

    The plot was pretty much the same, the screen writing team of Goodrich and Hackett dusted off the old script for the remake. One thing they did do was tone down the sexual innuendos so prevalent in Penthouse.

    Warner Baxter is an attorney for what we would now call a white shoe law firm who recently got gangster Nat Pendleton acquitted. Of course this law firm is not wanting Baxter doing criminal work for notorious and ethnic clients so Baxter is given the boot. Not that he cares really because he's wealthy enough himself. But he doesn't like it when girlfriend Mae Clarke does likewise. She's seeing Phillips Holmes now who's more her style.

    Later though when Holmes is accused of murder Baxter's services are needed and how. Baxter takes on Holmes as a client and his underworld connections prove valuable.

    If you've seen Society Lawyer, you know how this ends right down to how the murder was really committed and who did it.

    When I did the review for Society Lawyer I remarked that the film looked like a prototype for a series that Walter Pidgeon would have done with Herbert Mundin who played his butler. Charles Butterworth plays the butler here and also does a good job. The latter film turned out to be the last film Herbert Mundin did as he was killed in an automobile crash. Ironically enough so was Charles Butterworth. As Hackett and Goodrich also scripted the Thin Man film and it was also directed by Woody Van Dyke, this could easily have turned into a series like that for MGM. Problem was that Warner Baxter was not an MGM contract player. If he was I could have seen Myrna Loy, Warner Baxter, and Charles Butterworth doing a series.

    It took a year's wait, but Myrna Loy got into one of the most acclaimed movie series of all.
  • David_Brown3 August 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    It is funny how Woody Van Dyke saw something in Myrna Loy that no one else saw, which was greatness. This film was the was the springboard to "Manhattan Melodrama" and "The Thin Man" (Both directed by Van Dyke). Now I have read some reviews of Gertie Waxted, and how she was a Call Girl/Gangster's Girl/Kept Woman. This is not the first time she played a character like this. Check her out as "Coco" in "Topaz". At least here, she marries Jackson Durant (Warner Baxter), in that film, she did not and she remained the mistress of Topaz (John Barrymore). Even in "Manhattan Melodrama" her Eleanor Packer was was a gangster's moll ('Blackie' Gallagher', played by Clark Gable), before being given over to Jim Wade (William Powell). Guess what? it happens here as well she belonged to Tony Gazotti (Nat Pendleton), and he gave her to Jackson Durant (Warner Baxter). Major spoilers: Like in "Melodrama" where Blackie ends up sacrificing himself for Jim and Eleanor Gazotti ends up dying to save Gertie and bring happiness to Durant (Different way, same result). On to the film itself, "Penthouse" is not "The Thin Man" or "Manhattan Melodrama", because it one small thing missing........ William Powell. But that does not mean this was not a great film, it certainly was, just not as good. Spoilers: One thing that I like is the relationship between the butler Layton (Charles Butterworth) and both Jackson and Gertie (Despite what they put him through (Especially Gertie (Look at his head)). This man loves the two of them (Despite having a wife and four kids of his own). I love the conversation between him and Gertie about this. What you also see is the loyalty he has towards Jackson, because after he essentially abandoned by his fiancé, Sue Leonard and the class of people he grew up with, he remained with him. Finally, I like Jackson's character a lot. He always does the right thing: Defending Gazotti when he is innocent, taking his ex-fiancé's new fiancé Tom Siddall (Phillips Holmes) case when he is framed for murder, refusing to take a $200,000 bribe to leave the case, and of course "Marrying Gertie until someone better comes along" (Which everyone knows will not). Finally, if you are a gangster film or Myrna Loy fan (And I am BOTH) this film is essential. As far as Warner Baxter is concerned, his switching from representing the elite of society (Such as the woman who gave a million to a dog during the Great Depression), to gangsters and chorus girls, would be repeated in his "Crime Doctor" series where he goes from being gangster Phillip Morgan to Criminal Psychologist Dr. Robert J. Ordway. This is probably his Second Best performance (Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd in 'The Prisoner of Shark Island' comes first). I give it 10/10 stars.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    So says a headline in the New York newspaper that comes out after a series of incidents lead up to the sudden killing of Mae Clarke, leading to more than just one scandalous headline. The case follows a notorious series of cases by one of New York's top criminal attorney's (Warner Baxter) who has helped several infamous crime figures get off for crimes the legal world and public is sure that they committed. This has lead to Baxter being shunned by much of society as well as his fiancée, Sue (Martha Sleeper). But when Sleeper's new beau (Phillips Holmes, already on trial for murder in "An American Tragedy") is accused of killing Clarke (his old girlfriend), Sleeper goes to Baxter to get him to take the case. A key witness turns out to be Clarke's former roommate, played with delicious delight by a very seductive Myrna Loy. This leads to some very playful dialog between the wise-cracking Baxter and the flirtatious Loy that makes for a fun pre-code mix of comedy and drama that had to be toned down when they remade it in 1939 as "Society Lawyer".

    In addition to the actors I mention above, there's droll funny man Charles Butterworth putting his deadpan delivery into overdrive with each vinegary piece of dialog he utters, C. Henry Gordon as a notorious racketeer (and another of Clarke's ex's), Nat Pendleton as the racketeer whom Powell gets freed in the opening segment and gets aide from in regards to his newest case, and George E. Stone as a pathetic finger man. The opulent art direction is gorgeous, and the gowns both stylish and audacious. Under the direction of W.S. Van Dyke (who would later direct Loy along with Clark Gable and William Powell in the mob hit "Manhattan Melodrama"), this film sizzles from opening to closing with interesting female characterizations, showing two women in the same line of work (Clarke and Loy) who are as different as night and day, with Clarke being the epitome of a low-class dame and Loy very high class, but using her feminine charms to reign in high society. It is unfortunate that Hollywood would have to tone down the insinuations of how they made their living just a year later, because the contrast between the two women is fascinating and makes for riveting drama.
  • Charming MYRNA LOY plays a call girl who helps WARNER BAXTER get to the bottom of a mystery involving slain "night-club hostess" MAE CLARKE and PHILLIP HOLMES, the man wrongly accused of murdering her.

    The plot is a pleasant fabrication and obviously in pre-code, tongue-in-cheek manner, as for example when Myrna says to Baxter: "Well, I didn't exactly have to fight for my honor last night," the day after spending a night in his fancy suite. Baxter enlists her aid in solving the mystery since she's likely to come up with some facts about Clarke's background that will be helpful to him.

    She's given the improbable character name of Gertie Waxted--hardly the sort of name one would give a "call girl" character--and frankly, Loy is much to sweetly sophisticated to play the part convincingly enough. She's obviously several steps above the kind of girl she's playing.

    Baxter fares better as the criminal lawyer whose favorite client happens to be NAT PENDLETON, a man who knows more than he's willing to tell about the whole scheme behind Clarke's murder.

    It's a silky smooth production--and typical of early '30s melodramas, there's not a trace of background music on the soundtrack--just over the opening and closing credits. Too bad, because this would have helped make the tale a bit more suspenseful.

    For fans of MYRNA LOY, this should be required viewing. She's even more attractive here than she was in the Thin Man films. As for WARNER BAXTER, I never could see what Hollywood saw in him as leading man material. He seems to lack the charisma of a true star.
  • ... she would have been Gertie Waxted. One year after playing the deliciously depraved, lash-wielding daughter of Fu Manchu and a year before Mrs. Charles, Myrna Loy is closer to the latter than the former as the loose woman with a heart of gold. She steals the show. Forget about the murder. It's not particularly important or original - the writers don't even bother to reveal the killer's motive. Warner Baxter's character solves it without too much difficulty, though I doubt that any judge would sit still for the egregious entrapment he uses to wring a confession out of a henchman. No, just sit back and revel in all the wonderfully salacious, pre-Code lines Loy gets and the way she behaves. Her performance and personality are what elevate this otherwise routine flick.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Warner Baxter is a mob lawyer who gets lovable lunkhead Nat Pendleton off a murder rap, thus earning his undying gratitude. Baxter's society girlfriend objects to his clientele and dumps him and proceeds to make goo goo eyes at some effete society nebbish. Said nebbish then dumps his slutty lover, who then goes back to her gangster ex-boyfriend C. Henry Gordon and promptly gets killed. Nebbish boyfriend takes the rap, causing Baxter's ex-girlfriend to beg Baxter to take the case, which he does. Baxter then asks Pendleton for his help and is introduced by him to Myrna Loy. Baxter tracks down clues with her help. Several murders ensue until Loy lures C. Henry Gordon to a trap meant to expose him. But Gordon is wise to her and is about to get his boys to bump her off when Nat Pendleton saves the day by killing them all. Unfortunately, Nat is killed for his efforts. Myrna and Warner wind up headed for the altar and a trip to Paris. The End.

    I enjoyed this picture. It is a bit creaky with age but Baxter and Loy give good performances.
  • SnoopyStyle13 November 2020
    Lawyer Jack Durant (Warner Baxter) successfully defends gangster Tony Gaziotti and he's not happy with his client. He doesn't like Gaziotti but he does like the excitement. His firm doesn't want the notority and dumps him. His society girlfriend Sue Leonard breaks up with him. Sue agrees to marry Tom Siddall if he gets rid of his flapper girl Mimi Montagne. Mimi wants revenge and calls up her gangster ex Jim Crelliman. Mimi is killed and Tom is arrested. Sue convinces Jack to defend Tom. Gertie Waxted (Myrna Loy) is Mimi's friend.

    There is a lot of plot being jammed into the beginning before getting to the heart of the story. It's a lot of stuff before it gets to the case and Myrna Loy. The plot needs some simplifying. It feels a little rushed with all the characters. Once it gets there, the movie is able to breath with a magnetic Myrna Loy. Warner Baxter has a bit of William Powell but he doesn't have the same comedic charisma. Also, Myrna is really only playing a side character. She is always great and there is some chemistry with the duo. "I've been stupid... Of Course, you're a Man". The movie is good with those moments. There is just a lot around that.
  • The plot of "Penthouse" has a feel of soap opera, daytime drama and heavier crime mystery. It's not a particularly beguiling story. But the plot brings several very different and interesting characters together. Not the least, by far, are the male and female leads. Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy provide the best dialog that is peppered with occasional witty comments.

    Baxter's Jackson Durant is a very different attorney. Wealthy from the law firm his family founded, he doesn't go along with the reigning top partners of the firm. Handling estates and investments, deeds and wills of wealthy old ladies is not his idea of practicing law. He wants to be where the excitement is. So, he handles a headline criminal case, and befriends a crime group boss, Tony Gazotti. This must be one of the meatier roles for Nat Pendleton, and still with his street-guy persona, he does a good job.

    Gazotti likes Durant, but Durant isn't a crook's lawyer, and won't represent Tony's organization. His interest and service were solely in the line of justice with the law. He saw Gazotti was getting a bum rap, so he defended him to get him off.

    All of that sets the stage for more, and it's still some time before the leading lady enters the scene. But when she does Myrna Loy's Gertie Waxted gets the spotlight. This is not the Myrna Loy of the witty Thin Man series, or run of comedies with William Powell; or the perfect housewife of some later films. No, this was the young Myrna playing a working girl who dated some of the shady characters. But, she is captivating in her honesty and straightforwardness, and her desire to help Durant find the killer of her girlfriend, Mimi Montagne, played very well by Mae Clarke.

    The film is billed as a romance as well, but that isn't so apparent throughout -- to the credit of the plot. The variety of characters in the cast includes several more. The best of these are C. Henry Gordon as Jim Crelliman, Phillips Holmes as Tom Siddall, and Charles Butterworth as Durant's butler, Layton.

    This film is entertaining but nothing along the lines of the clever Thin Man or other mysteries. Viewers know very early on how the main murder is committed and who's behind it, if not the actual murderer. Here are some favorite lines from the film.

    Jackson Durant, "As a matter of idle curiosity, will you tell me why I slept at that end?" Layton, "You said you wished to sleep with your head toward the entrance."

    Durant, "Yes, I vaguely remember I went to a party last night. Where was it?" Layton, "Right here, sir." Durant, "Uh, did I have a good time?" Layton, "Yes." Durant,, "Good."

    Layton, "You were in a very generous mood, sir. But I persuaded the young lady to whom you gave the grand piano it would be difficult to get movers over at night."

    Layton, "What is it, sir? What is it?" Durant, after hanging up on a threatening phone call, "Someone's just convinced me that Siddall is innocent."

    Jackson Durant, "Music is certainly a wonderful thing. I meet you and five minutes later you're in my arms." Gertie Waxted, "Do you have to have music?" Durant, "I don't know. Do I?" Gertie, "I refuse to answer on the grounds it may incriminate and degrade me."

    Durant, "If I give you anything, I'll demand payment." Gertie, "I hate to be in debt."

    Durant, "You know, I've got some eggs at my place that are just longing to be scrambled by you." Gertie, "Well, I hate to keep an egg waiting. Let's go.''

    Durant, "My advice to you is put your money in government bonds." Stevens, played by Robert E. O'Connor, "Hmm, mmm. You can't cuddle up to a government bond."

    Durant, "I'm afraid you think I'm taking advantage of you." Gertie, "I'm afraid you won't."

    Tony Gazotti, "I'd give you my right arm, and I ain't no south paw."

    Durant, "You may be betting your life." Gertie, "When I bet, I bet all."
  • Plot in a Nutshell: An attorney (Warner Baxter) turns private investigator and enlists the help of a floozy (Myrna Loy) to solve a murder.

    Why I rated it an '8': In some ways you can say this is an 'average' film, telling the usual 'detective solves the crime' story in a matter-of-fact way. He makes the rounds, gathers the evidence, figures it out and sets the trap for the bad guys. The End. And if that's all you got out of it, you'd pretty much be right. But the screenplay-writing team of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (who would go on to pen much of the "Thin Man" series and "It's a Wonderful Life") elevates "Penthouse" to another level. And they were allowed to, of course, because it's pre-Code.

    I've come to realize this era in film is likely my favorite because the dialogue is often filled with such wit and intelligence. I saved the best line for down below, but here are a few other examples: early on Warner Baxter's character says to his butler, upon learning that he (Baxter) passed out the prior evening, "Well, I hope you took over my duties as host, Layton." To which his butler replies "yes, sir. I took the big blonde home!" Baxter then chokes on his breakfast! But the best exchanges are reserved for Baxter's and Myrna Loy's interactions, like this one: Baxter - "I'm afraid you think I'm taking advantage of you." Loy - "I'm afraid you won't!"

    A few reviewers complained that they thought Myrna Loy was miscast as a call girl, probably because it's a far cry from her upcoming role of Nora Charles. I didn't think so; I liked her very much here, along with the rest of the cast. "Penthouse" isn't platinum, but it is pre-Code gold. A pleasure to watch!

    Best Line: Baxter - "Oh, I've been stupid. Very stupid." Loy - "Of course. You're a man!"

    Times watched: 1. Would I watch again (Y/N)?: Yes, definitely.
  • Warner Baxter, Philips Holmes, Myrna Loy, Mae Clarke, and Charles Butterworth star in "Penthouse," a 1933 film directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

    Baxter plays an attorney who is called on to help young Holmes when he's accused of killing his fiancée. That afternoon, she was the attorney's girlfriend, but she didn't like him taking mob-related cases. So she went out and got engaged.

    Loy doesn't come into the film right away. She plays a party girl (hostess/prostitute) whom Jackson wants to talk to, as she was a friend of the victim's and can offer some details about the case. So he takes her back to his place, and she stays, to her surprise, in a separate bedroom when it's too late to go home.

    Good acting and a good pace are appreciated here, but Loy was much too refined to have been in that sort of job. Mae Clarke was more on the money. Loy looked beautiful, and believe me, that was a feat. Her gown was beyond hideous. White (or some light color) with an enormous black velvet bow that went the width of her chest and was attached to the gown by a diagonal strap in the back and attached to her black velvet belt in front. Someone ate too much Chinese food, went to bed, and dreamt up that nightmare.

    Despite this, Loy certainly had a presence and a serene beauty. But with that educated, well-modulated voice and all that grace, it seems odd she hadn't married some big-wig and was instead entertaining the customers at a bar.

    MGM had a tendency to put gloss over everything, so this movie doesn't have the Warner Brothers gangster sleaze element that it needs.
  • Myrna Loy had had appeared in over 70 films when she she was featured in Penthouse for WS "Hurry Up" Van Dyke who would go on to direct her in the highly successful Thin Man series. Its easy to see why. She's not to far from Nora Charles in this murder mystery that has her romanced by sleuth lawyer Warner Baxter who mirrors Nick Charles and his gravitation to nostagie de la boule in this warm up to her pairing with William Powell. Also on board are a garden variety of Runyonesque mugs, thugs and flatfoots that would also permeate the series.

    On its own its a typical Van Dyke quickly paced tongue in cheek crime film that on many levels holds its own with the series since it cannot help but beg comparison. In doing so this lightly entertaining piece lacks the presence and chemistry of the dynamite pairing of Loy and Powell. Baxter is adequate but lacks Powell's energy, vitality and comedic abilities and while this may be an unfair way to judge it there is no ignoring in hindsight the vastly improved similar work that unintentionally obstructs my view of this Penthouse.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    An essential comedy mystery drama from director W.S. Van Dyke, this film features a screenplay by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.

    Warner Baxter is a wealthy man about town who is also a successful lawyer. One that has just helped secure an innocent verdict for a known criminal, played by Nat Pendleton. Pendleton is so thankful, he offers Baxter a bonus and a place in his organization. Baxter declines because, although he knew Pendleton to be innocent of that particular crime, he doesn't want to be associated with him. Pendleton assigns two of his thugs to protect Baxter anyway, knowing rival crime bosses will be none too happy with Baxter for his help in getting Pendleton "off".

    Baxter's well to do firm, as well as his girlfriend Sue (Martha Sleeper), is unhappy with his association with Pendleton; both dump him. Sue favors Tom Siddall (Philip Holmes) who had been keeping her company while Baxter was working the trial. As an associate and friend of Baxter's, Siddall is reluctant to pursue Sue until Baxter says it's O.K. (which he does). He then must break his relationship to Mimi Montagne (Mae Clarke), a spoiled socialite who doesn't want to let him go. Mimi runs back to her boyfriend before Siddall, Jim Crelliman (Henry Gordon), a gang leader in his own right. Crelliman enacts revenge by inviting Siddall to his place to have Mimi tell him off permanently. He suggests she does it on the balcony. Seconds later, a shot is heard and, rushing to the balcony, the party sees Mimi dead with Siddall holding the gun.

    Sue rushes to Baxter to enlist his help in clearing Siddall, which he agrees to do (especially after he receives a phone call threatening him to stay away from defending Siddall). When Baxter asks Pendleton for help in getting his rival Crelliman, he introduces him to Gertie Waxted, played by Myrna Loy. Gertie was good friends with Mimi and lived in her same apartment building, which is owned by Crelliman as well as being the site of Mimi's murder. Baxter soon realizes that Loy knows things which can help convict Crelliman and decides to protect her, letting her stay in his apartment. His manservant Layton, humorously played by Charles Butterworth, is told to keep Loy there.

    From there, the plot continues with somewhat predictable results. However, there are some pre-code situations and innuendo throughout which are marvelous ... and Pendleton nearly steals the picture.

    This film was later remade as Society Lawyer (1939).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Penthouse' tells the story of a lawyer who loses his job and then his fiancé because he defended a gangster, but who then gets called it to help the same woman when her new boyfriend is framed for murder by a rival gang. It has a reasonably tight script and is well cast, with Warner Baxter playing the lawyer and Myrna Loy as the gangster's moll, a 'bad girl' with glittering eyes who he quite understandably falls for. Despite the company he keeps, however, he's a virtuous man – he won't take bad money, he stands up for the accused even when his life is ominously threatened, and when Loy sleeps over at his place, it's just that, sleeping over (much to her surprise). I think the film is pretty good but doesn't really stand out because it's too polished - the gangsters have gentlemanly attributes, far from Cagney's more realistic portrayal, and for all their pre-Code banter, the romantic exchanges lack real passion, with the exception of Mae Clarke (in a minor role), whose reaction when she's jilted is quite good. I suppose that's just it – Loy is very beautiful, but not quite right, whereas Clarke nails it. Not horrible, no major plot holes, nothing to really pan, and if you're a Loy or Baxter fan it may be worth watching – but you could do better.
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