Wednesday, November 28, 2001


This turned out to be quite a good movie, although I had my doubts in the beginning. Apparently MGM publicized it as a musical, and there are indeed a couple of numbers featuring Jean Harlow, one of which is reminiscent of the larger-than-life Busby Berekley production numbers, but with none of Berekley's wit or flair. It begins with the pace and tone of a screwball comedy, setting up a "zany" romantic triangle with Harlow as a singer, William Powell as her agent who harbors a crush on her but because he's not the marrying kind, does nothing about it, and Franchot Tone as a rich playboy (is there such a thing as a poor playboy?) who sweeps Harlow off her feet.

Things are light for about 20 minutes, then it takes a oddly serious turn as Harlow and Tone elope, very much against the wishes of Tone's family. Powell takes it on the chin but keeps his disappointment hidden. Then it becomes something of a melodrama, with dunkneness and heartbreak and suicide. The actors keep it interesting. As usual, Powell and Harlow are wonderful, and the strong supporting cast includes May Robson as Harlow's feisty grandmother and Rosalind Russell as Tone's ex-fiance, who turns out, against expectations, to be a good egg. Actually, one interesting thing about this movie is that ultimately, there are no "villains," just people who are misunderstood or who misunderstand. Apparently, it was based on the life of singer Libby Holman, but some elements of the lead character must have hit close to home for Harlow.

No comments: