Penthouse (film)

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Poster of Penthouse (film).jpg
theatrical poster
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Produced by Hunt Stromberg
Screenplay by Frances Goodrich
Albert Hackett
Ayn Rand (uncredited)[1]
Starring Warner Baxter
Myrna Loy
Music by William Axt
Cinematography Lucien N. Andriot
Harold Rosson
Edited by Robert Kern
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • September 8, 1933 (1933-09-08)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Penthouse is a 1933 black-and-white crime film starring Warner Baxter as a lawyer whose clients are less than upright and Myrna Loy, as a call girl who helps him with a murder case. It was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, based on a novel by Arthur Somers Roche. The risqué pre-Code movie was later remade as the more sanitized Society Lawyer in 1939.

Plot summary[edit]

Dapper attorney Jack Durant (Warner Baxter) successfully defends racketeer Tony Gaziotti (Nat Pendleton) against a murder charge and waives his fee. His white shoe law firm feels his taking the racketeer on as a client reflects badly on them so they let him go. His girlfriend Sue Leonard (Martha Sleeper) turns down his proposal and breaks up with him for the same reason. Shortly after Sue breaks up with Durant, her childhood friend Tom Siddall (Phillips Holmes) tells her that he has always loved her and proposes. Afterward, Tom goes to see Mimi Montagne (Mae Clarke,) a woman he has been keeping, to break things off with her. Although he tells her that he will give her a sum of money, Mimi is angry and Tom warns her not to make trouble.

When Mimi is shot to death later that night, Tom is the main suspect and Sue goes to Jack for help in clearing Tom of the charges. He declines until he gets a phone call telling him to stay out of it. He goes to let Tom know that he believes that Tom is innocent and will represent him. He enlists the help of Tony Gaziotti to use his underworld connection to help with the investigation

Jack meets call girl Gertie Waxted (Myrna Loy) and is immediately smitten. She tells him that she was a friend of the murdered woman and ends up agreeing to help him find Mimi's real killer.

Sue comes to Jack to tell him to drop the case because now she is getting calls threatening his life. When Gertie comes into the room in Jack's robe, Sue hurries out the door but not before Gertie catches up with her and tells her that Jack it still in love with her.

Jack moves Gertie into his apartment and tells her that she is not to leave the building because her life might be in danger as well. Jack finds out that a pawn broker he tried to interview has also been murdered. Jack goes to Gertie's apartment to get some clothes for her. While he is there, Jim Crelliman (C. Henry Gordon) walks into her apartment and offers him $200,000 to take Gertie and move to Europe. Jack rejects the offer and Crelliman begins to make veiled threats. Suspecting that there are goons waiting for him, Jim plays cat and mouse with them until he is able to sneak out of the building.

Jack sees Gertie in a club with another man and jumps to conclusions. When she returned to Jack's apartment he is mad until she tells him that the man, Murtoch (George E. Stone) is a gunman who works for Crelliman and she wanted to get him out of the building so Jack could escape. He apologizes for behaving badly and the two of them realize that they are in love. He asks Gertie to marry him but they are interrupted by a phone call that Murtoch is about to be killed. While Jack tries to track down Murtoch before he is killed, Gertie volunteers to visit Crelliman and lure him onto the roof of the building. She and Jack figured out that Mimi was shot from the window of Murtoc's apartment. Wen Jack and police get there,The police subdue Murtoch and Jack scares him into thinking that they will kill Crelliman and set him up for the murder.

When Gertie shows up to his apartment she is unable to get him to go out onto the roof. When she tells Crelliman that Jack will accept his offer and leave town he tells her that he knows she is working with Jack and tells his man to take her for a ride. As a last resort she tells Crelliman that she wants to go out onto the roof to see the skyline one more time. From Murtoch's apartment Jack and the police here gunfire and when they arrive they find Crelliman and his henchmen shot to death and Gertie and Tony in the next room. Tony apologizes and tells them that he shot the Crelliman and his men. At the end of his confession, blood begins to pour from a hidden gunshot wound in Tony's chest. He collapses and dies.

Later that day, Gertie is packing to leave, thinking that Jack will want to get back together with Sue. He tells Gertie that she is the one he loves and he wants to marry her and take her to Europe.



The working title of Penthouse was "Penthouse Legend." Warner Baxter was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the film.[1] The film as the first pairing of Myrna Loy and director W. S. Van Dyke, who would later direct many of the Thin Man films which would make Loy a star. After directing Penthouse, Van Dyke told MGM production boss Louis B. Mayer that Loy would be a big star if she continued to received the right kinds of roles.[2]



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