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 in one of her best roles
RED-HEADED WOMAN (1932). Director: Jack Conway.

"Don't be so cynical. It's very depressing this time of the night."

Red-headed Lillian Andrews (Jean Harlow) has decided she wants to live on the right side of the tracks and sets her cap for her boss, Bill Legendre (Chester Morris), despite the fact that he is married to Irene (Leila Hyams). Both Bill and Irene discover that neither of them are a match for the determined, super-sexy Lillian, who generally gets what she wants when it comes to men. When she discovers after she snares Bill that no one in his crowd or family will accept her, she decides to seek greener pastures. But can she manipulate things to her advantage without everything tumbling down around her? Jean Harlow is simply smashing as Lillian in one of her best roles, making the character kind of likable without ever being sympathetic. "I'm in love and gonna get married," Lil tells her best friend, Sally (Una Merkel) -- but not to the same man! There have been dozens of movies about marital triangles both before and after this picture, but what lifts Red-Headed Woman above the crowd is the acting and Anita Loos' excellent script. Lantern-jawed Chester Morris is fine as the conflicted Bill, with very good support from Hyams [Island of Lost Souls] as his wife; Lewis Stone as his father; Henry Stephenson [Cynara] as a family friend and business associate who develops a hankering for Lillian; May Robson as Irene's down-to-earth Aunt May; and even a very young Charles Boyer [The Constant Nymph] as the chauffeur who dallies with Lillian at inopportune moments. Una Merkel offers her usual adroit performance in her typical role of the heroine's ugly best friend. Harlow gives a rivetingly exciting performance in this, in full command of her considerable gifts and beauty.

Verdict: Sassy and frank pre-code comedy-drama. *** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

Have not seen this one in years. You've made me want to watch it again. Looks like it is among her best, along with my personal fave Dinner at Eight.

William said...

Yes, those are probably her two best roles.