Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Platinum Blond (1931)

Stew Smith (Robert Williams) is a newspaper reporter covering a society story. Seems a foolish young man of breeding and culture made some hard to keep promises to a lowly chorus girl, and she has the love letters to prove it. Stew meets with the Schuylers to get the story, where he meets our titular character.

Funny, isn't it how whenever someone refers to a character for whom the movie is named as "titular", that seldom that someone is either male or flat-chested. Apropos of nothing, that character is played by our very own Jean Harlow.

Boy meets Girl, boy earns the trust and respect of girl, boy MARRIES girl, girl's family approves not at all of the situation, work-a-day boy becomes a fish out of water, or more appropriately, a "Bird in a Gilded Cage", and starts to go a little nuts. We've seen the story a million times.

Jean was the biggest name and, as indicated earlier, the "titular" character, but the movie is really about Stew and Gallagher (Loretta Young). Gallagher is a woman, but not a real woman. She's one of the guys, a real pal. Seems our Stew never noticed how Gallagher absolutely glowed in soft focus. Live and learn.

Now, I didn't know anything about Loretta Young. I found out later that she had a child out of wedlock with Clark Gable (while he was still married, no less!) and is best remembered for her TV series. Back in the day, however, she was hot. 18 when the movie was released, she stood up to the more veteran actors and out shined Harlow herself.

It was kinda nice to go back to Capra thumbing his nose at society muck-a-mucks, and the performance of Williams was strong (and who doesn't like a little depression jiggle), but the movie left me somewhat flat. A little punching up of the script would have served it well. AMRU 3.

We all know that Capra and Young went on to long successful careers in cinema, and that Harlow went on to a tragic and short life, but Williams wins the cupie doll today. The sharp and witty reporter dropped dead of appendicitis three days after the premiere. So it goes.

"Yea, I know those bluenoses. Their ancestors refused to come over on the Mayflower because they didn't want to rub elbows with the tourists... So they swam over!"

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