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Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

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Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby moira finnie » March 8th, 2011, 3:04 pm

How do you feel about Jean Harlow? I know some members enjoy her very much.
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Here are the movies being shown on TCM this month in celebration of the centennial of her birth. You can find more details about each of these films here:

Red Headed Woman
Three Wise Girls
Riffraff
Suzy
City Lights
The Public Enemy
Bombshell
Libeled Lady
Reckless
Personal Property
Wife Vs. Secretary
Red Dust
Hold Your Man
China Seas
The Secret Six
Saratoga
Dinner At Eight
The Girl From Missouri
Platinum Blonde
The Beast of the City
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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby movieman1957 » March 8th, 2011, 3:11 pm

Since you asked.

She is a lovely woman but she has never struck me much one way or the other. What I have seen of her work is more having found it than looking for her. I think "Libeled Lady" was my favorite of hers.
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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby JackFavell » March 8th, 2011, 3:23 pm

I like her tremendously, especially in her brassy mid-career movies. Dinner at Eight, Bombshell, China Seas, Red Dust and especially Hold Your Man really appeal to me. I saw part of Red headed Woman last time it was on, and found myself rooting for her - she had her reasons, and I could sympathize with them, more than with the goody two shoes Chester Morris and Leila Hyams. I think that's what they call star quality.

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby silentscreen » March 12th, 2011, 10:41 pm

I like her very much. She was a good little commedienne, but died just as she was beginning to show some range as an actress.
I think Wife vs.Secretary shows her developing talent the best.
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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby charliechaplinfan » March 13th, 2011, 9:04 am

I really like Jean Harlow, she was an original, no one looked quite like her or sounded quite like her. When playing dirty, as in Red Headed Woman we can still root for her. My favorite films , Red Dust, Dinner at Eight, Libelled Lady and Red Headed Woman. I think she could have matured into a first rate screwball comedienne. I love her teamings with Gable, for me, she was his best partner, they could certainly cook up some steam and were good pals off the set. I've read Eve Golden's book, she seemed a really sweet girl with family troubles, no one had a bad word to say about her, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford had rivalry, it doesn't seem that Jean was above that. Contrast this sweet image with the girl who rubbed ice on her nipples before a take and we probably get some idea of which direction Irving Shulman went in to to shovel the dirt. She made poor choices in husbands, she was with William Powell longer than any of them, I think he was the one she really loved.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby moira finnie » March 25th, 2011, 11:44 am

Did anyone see Wife vs. Secretary (1936), which was broadcast on TCM earlier this week? It features Clark Gable as a publishing exec married to fairly useless but loving society girl, Myrna Loy. They live in a splendid art-deco world in ignorant bliss of the gossiping around them. He finds himself working closely with his secretary, "Whitey" (Jean Harlow) while Loy's "frenemies" and even Gable's mother tut-tut his spending so much time with the "office wife." Hilarity does not follow, though the actors can't be blamed, only the script.

Wife vs. Secretary (1936), a film that softened the leading lady Jean Harlow's brassiness, allowing her to play a character who was adept in business, as well as rather attractive. Harlow has blonde, not platinum tresses, actual eyebrows, and wears underwear in this movie too, thanks to the Production Code. Director Clarence Brown on directing Jean Harlow in this film: "In those days we didn't just make movies. We made myths, and they had to be protected and helped. I made Wife Vs. Secretary with Jean Harlow. It was my only picture with Jean, and in it she was going to try a different approach to her character, not the brazen but rather dumb bombshell she had been playing. Before we began she came to me and said, 'I'm not an actress, but you tell me what to do and I'll do it.' That was our agreement, and I think she did a delightful job."
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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby JackFavell » March 25th, 2011, 12:08 pm

I think she was extremely good in this movie. I have always liked the Jean from Hold Your Man, Red Dust and Red Headed Woman, not so much in her later films like Libeled Lady, where she was forced into larger caricature. This movie was a pleasant surprise to me, I really enjoyed her softened bad good girl.

As a whole, the movie was a little unsatisfying, but quite well done. It didn't come to any realistic conclusions about the problems of non-working wives, but held a familiar mixed message about trusting your man. It was very enjoyable along the way due to the fine performances of Harlow, Gable and Loy (amazing what sympathy she could drum up with this little speck of an unsympathetic role). I would have loved to see a Wife versus Secretary II a few years later, with Loy entering the workforce and hubby Gable going nuts wondering what the heck wifey was up to as she spent so much time away from home.

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby charliechaplinfan » March 25th, 2011, 1:08 pm

It is a bit dated and it's a while since I've watched it but I remember enjoying it. Isn't James Stewart in this WVS?
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

feaito

Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby feaito » March 25th, 2011, 2:13 pm

I liked "Wife versus Secretary" when I watched it years ago and I remember that one of the aspects I liked the most, was Jean Harlow's more natural and fresh look and her different approach to the role; she seemed more human and sincere; less wisecracks and loudness, helped her character to be less a caricature than ones she played during the Pre-Code Era, which were nevertheless funny, amusing and totally appropriate for comedies and dramas in which they were featured.

This film shows a new Jean Harlow, with a wider range and giving a much more complex and multi-layered performance. It's an underrated picture and I'd liked that she had starred in more films under Clarence Brown's direction.

Jimmy Stewart played her boyfriend as far as I recall.

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby moira finnie » March 25th, 2011, 2:17 pm

JackFavell wrote: It was very enjoyable along the way due to the fine performances of Harlow, Gable and Loy (amazing what sympathy she could drum up with this little speck of an unsympathetic role).

I kept telling Myrna to tell those other dames to take a hike and mind their own business while I watched this movie, but apparently her character had way too much time on her hands waiting for Clark to come home and just didn't hear me. I thought that the Loy character was almost tragically idle. How Myrna stood it, I'll never know. Maybe she should have taken a train ride and looked for someone named Vronsky...ooops, scratch that. That wouldn't have helped Myrna either.

JackFavell wrote:I would have loved to see a Wife versus Secretary II a few years later, with Loy entering the workforce and hubby Gable going nuts wondering what the heck wifey was up to as she spent so much time away from home.

Hey, you! Get over to the Writer's Building on the MGM lot. They needed your fertile imagination desperately in the early '40s.

CCfan: Jimmy Stewart played Jean Harlow's peevish boyfriend in Wife vs. Secretary. He whined and sulked constantly and thought that his gal was "being spoiled by hanging around with millionaires." He felt that Harlow should have been home, keeping house, making babies, and living on his minute clerical salary. This was the period of Stewart's contract at MGM when they didn't know what the heck to do with the big goof, so they had him play charm-free fellows like this guy and the disgruntled suitors in Small Town Girl (1936) and After the Thin Man (1936), giving his characters loser names like "Elmer," "Shorty," and "Rowdy."

Here is the beautifully edited Jean Harlow Star of the Month spot running on TCM this month. The song is "Paris (Ooh La La)" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Great job by all:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92qnd2th6aY&NR=1[/youtube]
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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby JackFavell » March 25th, 2011, 2:52 pm

Moira - can I get a nose job and a cute little figure like Nancy Olson and more to the point, a boyfriend writer like William Holden if I turn 1940's scriptwriter?

Stewart plays that same boorish, back home, truck-driving boyfriend in Ziegfeld Girl too.

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby Birdy » March 31st, 2011, 10:55 pm

I don't have TCM at home anymore, but I have most of these movies recorded and just had to pipe in, I adore Jean Harlowe. I think of her more as a character actress/comedienne, she makes me laugh all the time. But of course those unique looks propelled her to a different level.

My favorites are Girl From Missouri because of the sense of humor and her gal-pal Patsy Kelly. Okay, so there's one eensy-weensy suicide. And I love Bombshell, especially her rant when her family is driving her nuts and she's trying to leave the house for the studio. She has some great lines in that one, "Now I ask you. Ain't that a load o' clams?"

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby JackFavell » April 1st, 2011, 7:34 am

I was really impressed with Harlow this month, as always she was great, but I enjoyed watching her movies one after another. She probably had the fastest learning curve of any actress.

I enjoy seeing her totally new kind of woman. Harlow, Gable, Cagney and Tracy created totally new personas for audiences as the Depression began. A new breed of tough gals and guys, who could take it and dish it out. Audiences were tired of upper crust college types, or fainting heroines in peril, they just didn't seem to fit in with the difficulties of Depression-era life. Maybe Harlow was an extension of the flapper, only more raw, very real, experiencing the problems single working gals now faced in a poverty stricken environment. I can't think of another actress who trailblazed a path through the dangerous thirties like the men - maybe Joan Blondell. And she would throw herself into these good bad girl roles with such gusto - when she tells Wallace Beery he's a big gasbag, she really means it. She puts everything into it. And she's tremendously tremendously funny, as well as touching. She quits being the shy girl you see in her early movies and let's it all hang out - good and bad - and THAT's the real greatness of Jean Harlow. She's a woman like you and me, not up on any pedestal.

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby knitwit45 » April 1st, 2011, 7:46 am

well, as usual...Wendy, you nailed it! :D

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Re: Jean Harlow as Star of the Month

Postby JackFavell » April 1st, 2011, 8:52 am

Thanks, but Harlow is the one who nailed it! :D

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with Gable

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with Harpo Marx :D

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