Friday, 20 June 2014

Vintage Film Watchlist: Platinum Blonde

I had never seen a Jean Harlow film, and wondered what all the fuss was about, and so I ended up ordering her 1931 film, 'Platinum Blonde', off Amazon.

platinum blonde 

Harlow plays a wealthy socialite that after a scandal of her brother's in the press, develops a relationship with a journalist, much to the chagrin of his female long-term colleague and friend, who is secretly in love with him.  Needless to say, the relationship is also not approved of by the well-to-do family of Harlow's!

For a Frank Capra film, it was a little disappointing, I wonder if that's because it didn't have much music to help the momentum along.  I just felt it didn't quite have the sparkle I was expecting.  Robert Williams as Harlow's love interest is super, and Loretta Young as the long-suffering 'friend' of his, quite frankly outshines Harlow in my eyes.  But as for Harlow herself?  I wasn't that impressed.  She's a perfectly adequate actress in it, but I didn't feel that star quality in this film.  From looking at photographs of her in later films, she did undergo a minor transformation, refining her look over the years.

jean-harlow_platinum-blonde-bw

The clothes she wears in the film are certainly figure-hugging, all in lovely satins, and in comparison with other actresses of the era - including her co-star Loretta Young - she definitely has 'a little more junk in the trunk'.  I wonder if that's part of the appeal?

The film is light entertainment, with some humourous sections that did make me chuckle, and it's always a delight looking at the wardrobes that appear in these early films.  Overall, I'd give it a go if it's on television or if you have a copy picked up in the charity shops, but I wouldn't go out of my way to track it down.

I had no idea also, that Harlow's life was tragically cut short at the age of 26, due to kidney failure.  I think Jean Harlow is much better known in the USA than she is in the UK.  I've certainly never seen a Harlow film screened on British television.  Have you ever seen any Jean Harlow films?  Am I missing something?!


16 comments:

  1. I've seen her in The Public Enemy - another one from 1931 - and have to confess, I didn't see the appeal either. The voice! Like nails down a blackboard! (Though that could be because of the recording equipment used at the time.)

    She does have a very late 20s/early 30s 'baby face', and that could also simply be a look that's fallen out of favour, which is why we don't see the appeal whereas then it was considered absolutely ravishing. It's sometimes odd to look back at photos from different decades and see what the fashionable faces had in common, and how they differ from fashionable faces today - after all, faces are faces, it's not like each generation has a radically different shape. But that rounded, soft-chinned look wouldn't really sell so well nowadays...

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    1. Thanks for your points Mim, the 'babyface' popularity wasn't something that had crossed my mind. x

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  2. I too have wondered if her figure and its assets ;) helped her skyrocket to the level of popularity that she did. Not of course, that there's anything wrong with it if they did. I love that in an era that was often so focused on long, lean, almost boyish figures (a continuation of that trend from the 20s), Jean rocked and worked her curve's with skillful aplomb.

    ♥ Jessica

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. She certainly set aspirations and attractions going off in a different direction Jessica! I'll agree that she did seem most comfortable in her own skin x

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  3. 1931 is early for Jean Harlow, try Libelled Lady or Dinner at Eight, her comedy skills develop beutifully over the next few years.
    Also films in 31 were still struggling with the technicalities of sound which can make them static.

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    1. Fair point, the sound indeed was quite poor on this film! Thanks for the tips, will try some later ones x

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  4. That's an early film, her later ones are much better, I'd suggest Dinner at Eight or Red Dust. She had good chemistry with Clark Gable and their films work well.

    back in the day BBC 2 used to show old black and white movies as afternoon matinees. That's how I found my love for them, it's such a shame they just don't show them any more.

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    1. I've just watched a clip of Dinner at Eight based on your recommendation and now HAVE to see it, so funny! Thanks lovely. I certainly do remember BBC2 showing more old films than they do now x

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  5. Must confess I am yet to see a Jean Harlow film and i don't really know much about her. But I agree that she seems less well known in the UK. Have a lovely weekend!
    May xx
    www.walkinginmay.com

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    1. I'll share more of my opinions as I watch more of her films! Hope you have had a great weekend also x

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  6. I've never seen any of her movies either, but going by recommendations, maybe I'll look for one of her later ones. She seems like a really interesting person, from what I've read about her, and it would be interesting to see how that translates onto the screen.
    I used to think about Marilyn Monroe in kind of the same way - obviously she's pretty, but what's the big deal? And then I finally saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes maybe 5 years ago, and suddenly it all made sense.

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    1. I think Marilyn was a fantastic comic actress, but that gets overshadowed a bit by her beauty. Who knows, maybe Jean Harlow will turn out to be a similar forerunner?? x

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  7. I love vintage movies, but I've never watched this one! Next on my list!
    Baci,
    Coco
    Coco et La vie en rose / Bloglovin / Facebook

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    1. Glad to help you with that list Coco! x

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  8. I've never seen a Harlow film before but maybe I won't try this one! It's amazing how many of the old stars died tragically young - very sad. Perhaps it's another reason why they come to have this enduring appeal..? CC x

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    1. You could be quite right about that - they never had the chance to fall out of favour!! x

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