WEIRDLAND: 'Reckless' Actors: Franchot Tone & Jean Harlow

Friday, August 15, 2014

'Reckless' Actors: Franchot Tone & Jean Harlow

Franchot Tone will never have to sacrifice "his rugged individualism" to marriage.
Interview by George Kingsley to Franchot Tone for Photoplay magazine, 1936: "Franchot's marriage to one of the most beautiful and famous of today's screen ladies [Joan Crawford] will not in any way affect his personality, his dreams for the future, his ambitions and his philosophy of life.

I had developed a whole-hearted curiosity about this reserved, drawn-into-his-shell young actor. I wanted to peer into that mask of his, discover and understand the intricate processes of his character and imagination. I wanted, if it were humanly possible, to get his formula on paper. By the time I found him, relaxed, smoking a cigarette on a pile of cast-off planks, Franchot stretched his legs out and put his head back and talked. Out of the life he lives on this earth he must have, first, a glimpse of Utopia - and this is idealism. "I'm optimistic enough to believe the perfect state actually exists somewhere," he said. "We'll have universal plenty in a few hundred years, only I won't be here to see it... You can't tell me that sometime I won't find a Pitcairn's Island! No taxes, no money, no politics. I've dreamed about a place like that since I was old enough to read Sir Thomas More."


"Reckless" (1935) directed by Victor Fleming, concerns the exploits of stage siren and songstress Mona Leslie (Jean Harlow), a flighty gadabout who seeks love, romance, and a daddy figure. She only gets the latter from longtime pal Ned Riley (William Powell), a sports promoter with a Henry Higgins complex.

That is, until the arrival of obscenely wealthy playboy Bob Harrison Jr. (Franchot Tone), the president and only member of the S.A.M.L. (Society For the Admiration Of Mona Leslie), a "charitable organization" that books Mona into lavish venues so she can perform her (outrageously excessive) musical numbers before an audience of one.

Oh it's all there, but remarkably stuffed into the last reel, following an hour or so of what might easily be mistaken for a meandering romantic comedy about an alternatively distinguished and disheveled middle-aged bachelor who chooses to forestall his inevitable coupling with the considerably younger, lip-synching, lead-footed, "singing dancing star" who's been right in front of him the entire time. Extras include the theatrical trailer and some interesting audio-only tracks, including a rebroadcast of "Leo On The Air," an MGM promotional tool that features Harlow actually singing the film's title song (her vocals are dubbed in the film by Virginia Verrill) and several soundstage rehearsals, also featuring the screen queen's unique warbling style. Source: www.dvdverdict

"Reckless" (1935) was originally supposed to star Joan Crawford under the title “A Woman Called Cheap.” However, producer David O. Selznick replaced Crawford with Jean Harlow before production to capitalize off of Harlow and William Powell’s real-life romance, according to the Darrell Rooney and Mark Vieira book “Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937.”

-The film contains version of “Sing, Sinner, Sing” (1933) starring Leila Hyams and “Brief Moment” (1933) starring Carole Lombard.

-The film’s plot was very similar to a scandal that occurred two years earlier involving singer Libby Holman and her husband tobacco heir Zachary Reynolds. Similarly to the film, Reynolds drunkenly committed suicide. Holman threatened to sue for libel, but never did. Harlow was also uncomfortable, because the scandal in the movie was similar to the death of her husband Paul Bern. However, Powell convinced her to make the film.

-Jean Harlow’s singing was dubbed by Virginia Verrill. “She (Jean) realized that I couldn’t have credit for my singing, so she went out of her way to give me a hand whenever she could.”

-“Reckless” was the first Jean Harlow film to lose money.

Howard Hughes and Jean Harlow shown together in 1934 for the first time since making "Hell's Angels" (1930)

"The Carpetbaggers" is a 1964 American film directed by Edward Dmytryk, based upon the best-selling novel The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins. It was loosely based on the life of Howard Hughes, taking the reader from New York to California, from the prosperity of the aeronautical industry to the glamour of Hollywood. The Carpetbaggers (1961) was an international bestseller, a story of aviation, Hollywood, high finance, and Jonas Cord Jr., whose adventures must have amused Howard Hughes. Nevada Smith is Cord's childhood friend. Several other characters were also easily identifiable. Later Jackie Collins made successful use of this old narrative trick.

John Michael Hayes wrote the screenplay for Edward Dmytryk's film version of the book, starring George Peppard, Carroll Baker, and Alan Ladd in his last film role. Where Love Has Gone (1962) again used Hollywood gossips and personalities. The "sculptress" of the story was a thinly veiled Lana Turner. This book did not go unnoticed by the actress, who answered Robbins and all scandal papers with her candid memoir The Lady, the Legend, the Truth (1982).

-'The truth,' I said. 'Can't any of you tell the truth? Do you always have to manipulate others doing your dirty work for you when the truth is so much simpler?'
-'That's show business,' Guy said glibly.
-'I don't like it,' I said.
-'You better get used to it if you're going to stay in it.'
(The Lonely Lady, 1976) Source: archive.today

“We have a one-cent sale on Love-Glo cosmetics,” he said. “Buy one lipstick and get the second for only a penny.” She shook her head. “I don’t think so.” “It’s very good,” he said. “You ought to try it. Just as good as Revlon or Helena Rubinstein or those other fancy labels.” “Maybe next time,” she said.  “Love-Glo has eye shadow and nail polish too. Same deal goes.” She walked over to the magazine rack while he was writing up the sales slip and picked up a Hollywood magazine. There was a picture of Clark Gable on the cover. Idly she leafed through it. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the boys outside still watching her. “All ready now, JeriLee,” the druggist said. She put the magazine back on the rack and picked up the package from the counter. -"The  Lonely Lady" (1976) by Harold Robbins


Franchot Tone ("Treat Me Nice") video from Kendra on Vimeo.
In 1965, when his film career was fading, Franchot Tone played Dr. Freedland on the "Ben Casey" television series. "I like my profession," he said. "Since there is not enough work elsewhere, I can work at it here. It's better to know you have a challenge than to sit and wait." — Los Angeles Times Sept. 19, 1968

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