Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Jean Harlow and Robert Williams
PLATINUM BLONDE (1931). Director: Frank Capra.

Reporter Stewart Smith (Robert Williams) is told to interview a wealthy family over a breach of promise suit involving the son, Michael (Don Dillaway). Smitten with Michael's pretty sister, Ann (Jean Harlow), Smith forgets all about the colleague, Gallagher (Loretta Young), who's carrying a torch for him and he winds up getting married to Ann. Smith wants Ann to live with him, but she prefers the family mansion and dresses him in monkey suits. Will he rebel and find his way back to Gallagher? You needn't see the movie to be able to answer the question, which even for 1931 is utterly cliche-ridden and thoroughly predictable -- not a single thing happens that you don't expect long before. Young and Harlow both offer expert performances, but Robert Williams is a case of an unlikable (at least in this role) actor playing an unlikable part -- his Stewart Smith is a complete, self-serving jackass that Gallagher should have kicked to the curb long before. Jokes about butlers, snobs and society are less funny than creaky. Louise Closser Hale makes an impression as Ann's mother, who is constantly asking for a double-bicarbonate. Robert Williams made no other films after this, as he died the same year it was released at a tragically young 34. Some see him as stealing the show from his female co-stars in this picture, but I confess that I do not agree -- glib Williams is just not my cup of java. Capra's direction of the film is more than okay, but that script ...!

Verdict: Even Frank Capra can make stinkers. *1/2.


angelman66 said...

I often mix this film up with Bombshell, which is a much, much better movie, in which Jean basically plays herself and spoofs her Hollywood image.
Interesting how so many of Harlow's movie titles point to her either blonde or red hair....they really built all these films around her, she was a huge star!

William said...

Shee sure was! One could argue that Loretta Young really had the main role in the movie, but once Harlow became a star she got the build up and even the title!