Way of a Man with a Maid (1918)

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Back in 1919, 21 dollars a week was a fair salary for any young man starting out. In this film, however, it falls way short for shipping clerk Arthur McArney (Bryant Washburn). While out on the town with his friend Bick Olsen (Fred Goodwin), he meets pretty blonde stenographer Elsa Owenson (Wanda Hawley). Arthur has to compete for Elsa's attentions with a fat, but wellheeled broker named Sankey (Jay Dwiggins). The result is that poor Arthur winds up paying for expensive dinners and ten dollar cab fares -- none of which he can afford. On top of that, when Sankey derisively calls him a "three-dollar-a-week clerk with run-down heels," Arthur borrows approximately ten weeks' salary to buy himself a new wardrobe. But before the guy can completely ruin himself financially, his boss gives him a promotion and a raise in pay equaling a glorious four thousand a year. With his salary now more than tripled, he can laugh in Sankey's face as he walks off with Elsa, who liked Arthur for more than his money anyhow. A lot of filmgoers of the day could identify with the characters in this pleasantly amusing, slice-of-life picture.