Platinum Blonde

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 7

66%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,078
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Movie Info

Jean Harlow may have been under contract to MGM, but it was at lowly Columbia Pictures that she played the title role in the aptly titled Platinum Blonde. Director Frank Capra always claimed that he and screenwriter Robert Riskin "stole" the plot from The Front Page, but beyond their mutual "newspaper" backgrounds there is no real resemblance between the two films. Robert Williams, a comic actor who died in 1932, plays a wisecracking, easily distracted reporter who manages to insult wealthy socialite Harlow (playing an uncharacteristically unsympathetic character). As retaliation, the girl inveigles Williams into marrying her, which not only shocks his news-hound buddies but sends his erstwhile sweetheart, sob sister Loretta Young, into an emotional tailspin -- though she won't let him know that. Williams tries to remain his old down-to-earth self, but soon his head has been turned 180 degrees by Harlow and her society chums, whereupon he gives up journalism to become an artsy-fartsy playwright. Finally brought to his senses, Williams gives Harlow the ozone and returns to his old job -- and to Young, who has never stopped loving the big lug. Many of the elements prevalent in Platinum Blonde were echoed in Capra's later films, notably the hero's preoccupation with such trivial pursuit as a pocket-sized puzzle and his tendency to settle arguments with stuffed shirts by punching them out.

Cast

Robert Williams
as Stew Smith
Jean Harlow
as Ann Schuyler
Loretta Young
as Gallagher
Louise Closser Hale
as Mrs. Schuyler
Donald Dillaway
as Michael Schuyler
Reginald Owen
as Dexter Grayson
Walter Catlett
as Bing Baker
Edmund Breese
as Conroy, The Editor
Halliwell Hobbes
as Smythe, The Butler
Claud Allister
as Dawson, The Valet
Olaf Hytten
as Radcliffe
Tom London
as Reporter
Hal Price
as Reporter
Eddy Chandler
as Reporter
Dick Cramer
as Speakeasy Proprietor
Dick Pritchard
as Minor Role (uncredited)
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Critic Reviews for Platinum Blonde

All Critics (7) | Fresh (7)

Audience Reviews for Platinum Blonde

  • Jun 05, 2018
    An early Capra effort complete with the Depression-era "rich people are jerks" subtext. A down-to-earth regular guy marries above his station, much to the chagrin of everyone involved. Will he become a gentleman dandy or stay true to his everyman roots? Surprisingly Jean Harlow and Loretta Young are cast vice versa and it's disconcerting as hell. But the film belongs tragically to its star, Robert Williams, who is quite good but unfortunately died on the brink of stardom. Not one of the greats, but its doable.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 31, 2016
    Rom-com, 1931 style. Robert Williams plays a newspaper reporter who falls for a rich socialite (Jean Harlow) and the two get married, against her mother's objections. The relationship is ill-matched, him resenting being treated as a 'bird in a gilded cage', as he and others put it, and she disliking his crude ways and partying friends. Meanwhile, the gal pal played by Loretta Young carries a torch for him all along. You know how it's going to end, but it's charming nevertheless, has a script full of funny touches, and is well cast all around. Williams is smooth and wonderful, and reminds one of Spencer Tracey. Characteristic to the time, he settles a few disagreements with his fists, but it's as good-natured a way as Capra can make it. He also a couple of very nice romantic scenes with Harlow - the first, talking and then kissing behind the window of a beautiful garden waterfall, and the second, playfully making up and singing a song debating whether he should wear garters or not. It's absolutely tragic that Williams would die at the age of 37 three days after the film's premier, and that Harlow would die six years later at the age of 26.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2010
    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.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2010
    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!
    Jennifer D Super Reviewer

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