The Golden Age of Hollywood

I thought I'd like to start out by saying welcome, and that Miss Harlow deserves this group. I feel it's overdue. question to you and yours is (everybody), "when did you first discover Jean's films, and what made them stand out & make them special to you?" She had a very short life & didn't make a billion films like so many others on this site, yet she stands out & made an impact!

So folks when & how did you first become interested in Jean Harlow Pictures? Thanks.





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Here's an image that's supposed to be Jean Harlow. I'm not sure if it captures her likeness, but I'm very fond of this illustration and the era it evokes. I'm sharing it here---enjoy.
When I was a teenager, I saw "Hold Your Man" with Harlow and Gable, my first Harlow experience. Her fiery attitude that came across the screen as a fast talker, a perfect gangster "moll", and her pairing with Gable caught my interest. Soon after, I saw "China Seas", "Saratoga" and "Red Dust" and her wonderful onscreen aura prompted me to read her biography. I've been a fan ever since. "Dinner at Eight" is my favorite Harlow role.
Well stated. I will say that most biographies miss the person altogether in favor of the Bombshell image, which indeed is more saleable to booklovers everywhere. But that Irving Shulman "work" was/is slanderous. Thankfully, other works on her life's history have been done which are more scholarly, accurate and fair minded, & are available in many public libraries. I've read & reread them all, and think that she's finally getting her fair
shake--again deservedly. More on this in the future...Anyone else have any memories about discovering Jean Harlow movies? Are there any old timer's out there that can remember seeing her films when they were first made, and the impact it made on them? Let's hear from you!
Oh yes, THANKS Cee Cee.
I think that Irving Shulman book was the one I read way back in the day. My goodness, the things it said. Im glad since then we've come to know that many of the things it implied were inaccurate. I do have David Stenn's book on Jean on my wishlist at Amazon. I hear that was quite good and maybe the definitive bio of Jean. I loved his Clara Bow bio.

oh and by the way, thanks for the tip on "3 Wise Girls". If I can find it, it is going up on my Netflix queue!
Like CeeCee I first saw Jean Harlow when I was a teenager and TV used to
play her films. My mother had a real fan worship of her, dating back to when
she was young - "China Seas" was one of the first I saw, along with "Wife Verses
Secretary". Now, I think my favourite films are "Red Headed Woman" and
"Bombshell" - how could anyone see those films and not be completely
bowled over by her. "Red Headed Woman" gets you in instantly by Jean's
saucy comment ""Gentlemen prefer blondes - I bet they do" - or something like
that - another comment "Madam, you can see right through that dress", Jean's
reply "Good - I'll take it!!". People had fun at the movies in those days - What happened!!!
Welcome! Yes, television has had an enormous amount of influence on keeping the old flicks alive & well, & I must say that today most of us see these films on the tube. They play very well, & entertain us like it did our parents & grandparents. There isn't many who saw these as films on the big screen still alive today, although some may be out there, (& not on the computer like us! )
I'm happy that now we have cable & video DVD's & tapes as well, so we can own & watch at our leisure these fine classics. Jean Harlow shines forth from the 30's, with all it's style & street smart verve, & connects with us today because of her great performances
which she never got the proper credit for. There were many who claimed she couldn't act at all--that she was just a Platinum Blonde sex symbol (or worse!) But those kinds of dames come & go, Jean remains great because of talent & hard work & the fine quality of the MGM features she starred in. Here's hoping more young people see & discover
her work thru TV, & (I hope) thru web sites like this...

As for "3 Wise Girls", no I've never seen it... Someday...? GIves me something to look forward to. Thanks for your input!
I actually think people who think Jean Harlow could not act have
probably only seen "The Public Enemy" - even her most fanatic fans
would have to agree that it was not her finest moment. But she more
than proved she was a wonderful actresses when she was given parts
that she could really sink her teeth into. I have seen her in "The Secret
Six" - I think it was her first MGM movie - they got rid of all the horrible
makeup and she looked she beautiful and natural looking and I thought
she did pretty well in that movie as a girl caught up in the seedy world
of gangsters.
Loving Jean as much as I have, i cringed with her acting in Public Enemy. owww
Thanks for your comments. I agree with you, and I'd like to add that Bill Wellman was a fine director, but not a woman's director. At this point in her early career, I think a more sympathetic director could've helped her enormously. The scene I remember, was (I'm told) about Cagney's characters frustration with his inablity to make l'amour with Gwen (Harlow). One long embarrasing moment, punctuated by Cagney's temper. Her dialog, as written, I feel is very mawkish & unnatural, calling Tom Powers "a bashful boy" and talking about "the men I'd known, and I've known dozens". Not the greatest lines to mouth for any actress! Can you imagine Garbo saying them?
They didn't light the scene romantically, either. Bright, even lighting didn't capture the mood well, & combined with a camerman who hadn't photographed her before, made for an bad scene. Listen to the syrupy violin music in the background (playing "I Surrender Dear" a Crosby hit of the day) and it just made her look & sound bad. I agree about the makeup & wardrobe.
All this didn't hurt her career any, amazingly! Warner's were geared up I think for gangster flicks & other genres. I realize that this is a gangster film, but what I mean to say is, they didn't know how to make certain kinds of films well. (My opinion). They didn't handle womens roles well, until the soapy Kay Francis stuff or The great Bette Davis dramas later on. I.e., They didn't know how to make a screwball--"Fools for Scandal", a 1938 Carole Lombard vehicle--it was a flop. They tried to do a Paramont and failed.
The rest of "Public Enemy" is a Classic!!! They didn't handle Miss Jean's scenes right.
But she wasn't one of their contract stars either!
Whew! I've got to stop with the critic stuff, lol. Thanks for posting.
I agree with everything youve said. The lighting was just terrible (too bright) and gave the film a really weird look. I hated the way Jean sounded and hated the makeup even more. I did notice that many of Warner's films had that gritty look to them. Diminished the more dramatic look the picture would have had it just been done better in those respects. Even with all this, Public Enemy is indeed a classic as youve mentioned.
I love that James Cagney!
I agree with both of you. Maybe the fact that Jean
was new to acting as well as having to say such
awful dialogue - I think it would have even tried
Garbo's talent as you say. I actually read that
the part of Gwen was offered to Louise Brooks
but she was in one of her petulant moods and
turned it down. I feel so angry with Louise (I sound
idiotic I know) but I just feel she would have really
blended in with the naturalness of the film - and
she would have chucked out that dialogue and
probably made up her own!!! I would have loved
to see Louise Brooks in "The Public Enemy"!!!
Jean Harlow was amazing. She was so young and really had no training in acting but she caught on quickly. She was good in Frank Capra's "Platinum Blonde" but others from 1931 were not always her finest performances. Howard Hughes loaned her from studio to studio making a lot of money off of her. She was a sensation more than an actress. Her first truly excellent performance was in "The Beast of the City" (1932). Paul Bern gave her emotional support and it was like an audition for "Red-Headed Woman" which earned her a contract at MGM. I talked to Frank Capra on the phone and he said he made her comfortable and was patient with her. Not only was Hughes loaning her from studio to studio, she was also making personal appearance tours. How that young woman handled all of that is beyond me! She was very insecure and she didn't want to do Red-Headed Woman but she said to the director's wife, "I'm going to get audiences to like this character inspite of herself" and she did.
I saw the film "Harlow" on TV when I was quite young. This was the Carroll Baker film. I was only about 12 and I said to my brother when it was over, "She wasn't like that at all!"
My brother asked me how I knew that and I didn't know! I started to get photos of her and it took years to get all of her films except Goldie on disc. I have done a lot of research on Jean Harlow and spoke with women who knew her in Kansas City and a private school she want to in Lake Forest, IL.
A new book is coming out on Jean Harlow full of photos in March of 2011. It is a pictorial overview of her life. There is a site on Facebook for it. Type in Jean Harlow and I am certain you will find it. I was in L.A. for seven months back in 1998 and met the expert on all things Harlow! The authors of the book are Darrell Rooney & Mark Vieria. Do make certain you buy this book!!! Darrell is trying to find a publisher to write an updated biography wish will include a great deal of information that David Stenn did not include in his book.


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