Platinum Blonde (1931)
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. … More
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Critic Reviews for Platinum Blonde
Still, with all its usual Capra faults, it holds up as a slightly above average breezy newspaper comedy.
Vastly appealing early Capra with bits that resurface in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.
Audience Reviews for Platinum Blonde
There are some great screwball comedies of the 30's and 40's, and this is a terrific early film, directed by the father of feelgood, Frank Capra. Starring such screen greats as Jean Harlow and Loretta Young, the main character of Stew Smith (Robert Williams) is both a cautionary tale and a goofball, which fits with Will Hays' production code, but also is flagrantly absurd. It's a cute little piece of cinema, laden with compromises towards censorship.More
It has been quite awhile since I watched an old movie and I've forgotten how delightful they can be. I've seen plenty of old screwballs and this isn't the best of the best, but it is funny and witty. And Williams is quite hilarious! Almost Grant-esque. Predictable story, but it made me laugh!More
Brisk social commentary comedy from Capra doesn't have the bite of his later 30's work but is interesting as evidence of it's development. Robert Williams is strong in the lead, it is easy too see him possibly going on to a career like Spencer Tracy's had he not died just days after the premiere of this film. Loretta Young is beautiful and lively not yet having settled into the great lady mode she adopted a few years later. Jean, early in her career before MGM took her in hand and molded her into a first class comedienne and broad, is cast as the the rich girl and while she isn't terrible she's more at ease in the moments when she's not trying to play the grand society lady. Plus she does looks sensational in her almost blinding blondeness.More
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