Platinum Blonde

( 2 )

Overview

A rather bleak comedy-drama from Frank Capra, Platinum Blonde basically starts where Capra's later and much more buoyant It Happened One Night (1934) ends: the marriage between a brash newspaperman and a society dame. But where the latter comedy was enhanced by the director's patented optimism, Platinum Blonde, produced at the height of the Great Depression, expresses no faith in a common ground between the classes. Star reporter Stew Smith (Robert Williams) falls in love with the sister (Jean Harlow) of his ...
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Overview

A rather bleak comedy-drama from Frank Capra, Platinum Blonde basically starts where Capra's later and much more buoyant It Happened One Night (1934) ends: the marriage between a brash newspaperman and a society dame. But where the latter comedy was enhanced by the director's patented optimism, Platinum Blonde, produced at the height of the Great Depression, expresses no faith in a common ground between the classes. Star reporter Stew Smith (Robert Williams) falls in love with the sister (Jean Harlow) of his latest victim (Donald Dillaway). They marry despite the misgivings of Ann Schuyler's blue-nosed mother (Louise Closser Hale) and Stew's cynical colleagues ("Ann Schuyler's in the blue book. You're not even in the phone book!"). Unable to stand life in a gilded cage for long, Stew upsets the Schuyler mansion by inviting his friends to a wild and woolly party. Returning home unexpected in the middle of the drunken revelry, Ann lays down the law and Stew bolts -- right into the arms of girl reporter Gallagher (Loretta Young), whom he has loved all along without realizing it. Jean Harlow is surprisingly realistic as the callous society girl but Robert Williams' wisecracking reporter comes across as rather grating. An up-and-coming comic lead, Williams died after an operation for appendicitis on November 3, 1931, less than a month after Platinum Blonde had premiered to mostly positive reviews. Ironically, Loretta Young, who received top billing, had demanded to star in this film when it was still known as "Gallagher", the name of her character. Harlow, needless to stay, stole the limelight completely and Capra changed the title much to Young's chagrin.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
This early Frank Capra talkie showcases Robert Williams in an edgy performance as Stew Smith, a streetwise reporter who naively jumps into marriage with the beautiful socialite Anne Schuyler. Inevitably, he loses his identity and is cut off from all that was familiar to him. While the plot may seem like a cliché to modern audiences, the evolution of Stew and Anne's relationship is handled with a refreshing maturity. Their attraction is immediate, and Williams and Jean Harlow have a chemistry that comes through as honest, notably in a sexually charged scene where they make out behind a fountain glass, and in a bedroom scene where they playfully argue with each other while speaking their dialogue to the tune of "A-Hunting We Will Go." At first, Stew fights to retain his connection to his former world -- he refuses to wear garters, use his valet, give up his job, or live in Anne's house -- but one by one surrenders each of these principles, almost without realizing it. Capra repeatedly stresses the theme of the bird in a gilded cage to emphasize Stew's confinement (and emasculation). Capra also underscores Stew's boredom through subtle touches such as showing him playing hopscotch on the tile floor. Stew's scenes with the butler Smythe are especially fun, as when he instructs Smythe in how to yell so that his voice echoes through the vast but empty mansion, and Smythe in turn educates Stew on the fine art of puttering. Platinum Blonde can certainly be accused of being rather predictable and simplistic, but it also possesses a charm and naturalness that is often missing from Capra's later films.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/4/2014
  • UPC: 043396452800
  • Original Release: 1931
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures Home
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Remastered / B&W
  • Time: 1:29:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 25,800

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Loretta Young Gallagher
Robert Williams Stew Smith
Jean Harlow Anne Schuyler
Louise Closser Hale Mrs. Schuyler
Donald Dilloway Michael Schuyler
Reginald Owen Dexter Grayson
Walter Catlett Bingy Baker
Edmund Breese Conroy, The Editor
Claud Allister Dawson, The Valet
Rychard Cramer Speakeasy Proprietor
Dick Pritchard
Halliwell Hobbes Smythe, The Butler
Wilson Benge Butler
Tom London Reporter
Olaf Hytten Radcliffe
Charles Jordan Reporter
Hal Price Reporter
Harry Semels Waiter
Eddy Chandler Reporter
William "Wild Bill" Elliott Dinner Guest
Technical Credits
Frank Capra Director
Edward Bernds Sound Mixer
Harry Chandlee Original Story
Douglas W. Churchill Original Story
Harry Cohn Producer
C.C. Coleman Asst. Director
Stephen Goosson Art Director
Dorothy Howell Screenwriter
Gene Milford Editor
Robert Riskin Screenwriter
Jo Swerling Screenwriter
Joseph Walker Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Platinum Blonde
1. Chapter 1 [9:30]
2. Chapter 2 [10:29]
3. Chapter 3 [9:53]
4. Chapter 4 [10:06]
5. Chapter 5 [10:18]
6. Chapter 6 [9:47]
7. Chapter 7 [10:10]
8. Chapter 8 [10:28]
9. Chapter 9 [8:01]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Platinum Blonde
   Platinum Blonde: Chapters
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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(0)

4 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2011

    Worth a look

    Robert Williams makes this film worth a look. He's virtually unknown today because he died so young -- just days after this movie premiered in 1931. But if this is any indication, he could have ended up as one of the top leading men of that era. He kind of reminded me of Gable in a few ways. Harlow is always a plus, but this isn't the best Harlow vehicle I've seen. She's better in things like CHINA SEAS, RED HEADED WOMAN, LIBELED LADY, and WIFE vs SECRETARY. I liked Loretta Young more than Harlow in this film.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Jean Harlow in Platinum Blonde

    Harlow, Loretta Young and some of the rest of the cast do a fair job in this dated comedy. Robert Williams, as the lead, is quite annoying and scarcely funny at all. I found this at best a curiosity. The setup and plot are mildly interesting. To really see some good work by Jean Harlow check out Libeled Lady or Dinner At Eight.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews