WEIRDLAND: "The Girl From Missouri" (1934) and "Suzy" (1936) with Jean Harlow & Franchot Tone

Saturday, August 09, 2014

"The Girl From Missouri" (1934) and "Suzy" (1936) with Jean Harlow & Franchot Tone

"The Girl From Missouri" (1934), starring Franchot Tone, Jean Harlow and Lionel Barrymore.

"The Girl From Missouri" marked the second time Harlow worked with director Jack Conway, who also called the shots on 1932's Red-Headed Woman. He would go on to direct Harlow again in the 1936 romantic comedy Libeled Lady and her final film Saratoga (1937). Accomplished writer and Harlow friend Anita Loos penned the sharp screenplay, sharing credit (as she often did) with husband John Emerson. Known also for writing the novel and screenplay for the similarly themed Marilyn Monroe vehicle Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Loos also wrote two other Harlow flicks, Red-Headed Woman and Saratoga. Harlow's biggest connection to the crew of this picture was undoubtedly with cinematographer Harold (Hal) Rosson, to whom she was married at the time. Unfortunately for the couple, their brief marriage broke up before The Girl From Missouri was completed. Rosson, who had already shot most of the picture, was replaced by Ray June and went uncredited in the final print. Rosson was her third and last husband, though she did go on to a famous love affair with actor William Powell before her death in 1937. Source: www.tcm.com

With a script written from the acclaimed Anita Loos, The Girl from Missouri could have played like Baby Face, with a character merely scheming and sleeping her way to the top. Instead you like Eadie because she wants to marry a wealthy man to make something of herself, give her future children financial security, and prove she’s not a floozy.

I think that’s what I ultimately find so refreshing about Harlow and her films. As much as I adore Marilyn Monroe, her characters were never strong-willed. Sure Monroe had a few role where she acknowledged her ditziness, but she never transcended it. Or if she did play a strong character there were male troubles that dominated the story more. Here, Harlow isn’t an idiot.

 Eadie gives a big speech to Paige, Jr. after he tries to seduce her by locking her in a room with him (someone call up Benson and Stabler) that she knows what people think about her, that she’s a floozy, but does that means she’s not entitled to respect? Her character understands that how she dresses and looks makes people judge her, but why does that mean they have to treat her like a piece of meat? That’s where I think Harlow becomes a stronger and more enduring star than Monroe (although most people forget that Monroe herself is an off-shoot of Harlow and Mae West). Throughout the film men try to make Eadie sleep with them by giving her gifts. Source: journeysinclassicfilm.com

Jean Harlow plays a chorus girl, named Eadie, on the make for a millionaire. She chases an old rich guy (Lionel Barrymore) to Palm Beach. Once there, she meets and falls in love with his son, Tom. The old man wants his son to stay away from her. He assumes she is nothing more than a gold digging slut. The dialogue is classic. Early in the movie Harlow and a friend (Patsy Kelly) are at a party full of rich older men. Harlow tells her friend to act like a lady. Her friend responds, 'If they wanted ladies they'd go home to their wives.' This movie also contains some dark subjects. Early in the movie a man kills himself by gunshot (played by Andy Hardy's dad Lewis Stone).

In one scene Harlow loses a job because - as she explains it - she 'wasn't friendly enough to the boss.' In another scene Harlow tells a friend that she just got engaged to a man she just met. Her friend asks, 'Did someone have you sniff a little white powder.' In another scene, Harlow gets thrown in a shower fully dressed. When she emerges you can clearly see some nipple action through her soaked dress. Franchot Tone is actually very good as Tom. He was certainly handsome enough and he has an easy charm about him that is quite appealing. He could also deliver a comic line with style. In the scene aboard the yacht where Eadie first discovers Tom is T.R.'s son, she jumps overboard and right before Tom goes in after her his father tells him to watch out for her. Tom (who had overheard Eadie and Kitty plotting together in the previous scene) replies incredulously to his father, “You're warning me?!” Source: www.threemoviebuffs.com


American showgirl Suzy (Jean Harlow) is in London in 1914. She loves Irish inventor Terry (Franchot Tone) who works for an engineering firm owned by a German woman. After their marriage Terry is murdered and Suzy flees to Paris where she meets flyer Andre (Cary Grant) as war is breaking out.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer describes its romantic masterpiece "Suzy" (1936) as being based on the novel by Herbert S. German. Based seems too strong a word; one suspects that the studio simply tore out a few chapters, distributed them among Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Horace Jackson, Lenore Coffee and a few George Spelvins on its writing staff, and suggested they proceed from there. The final script indicates they retreated instead. Miss Harlow has been returned to her unsophisticated "Hell's Angels" days; Franchot Tone is some one out of "The Key"; Cary Grant was revisited with "The Eagle and the Hawk"; they found a place by the fireside for Lewis Stone. Miss Harlow's performance may be numbered among her least, and we still insist she would be wiser not to stray beyond the green pastures of comedy. Mr. Tone can be thanked for the few honest moments of drama that the film possesses. His young Irishman is about the only convincing and natural character in the piece. Source: www.nytimes.com

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