Saratoga (1937)

Saratoga (1937)

“You don’t belong at the track. What do you know about handicapping horses?”

The daughter (Jean Harlow) of a recently deceased gambler (Jonathan Hale) tries to earn back her family home through gambling rather than relying on her wealthy fiance (Walter Pidgeon), but finds her efforts complicated when she falls for her father’s bookkeeper-friend (Clark Gable).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Clark Gable Films
  • Gambling
  • Jean Harlow Films
  • Lionel Barrymore Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Walter Pidgeon Films

Peary almost certainly lists this lackluster MGM romantic comedy in his GFTFF given its infamy as Jean Harlow’s final film (which could only be completed through creative use of doubles, dubbing, and editing).

The storyline is innocuous and/or silly, and the performances are hit-or-miss: Harlow isn’t at her best (perhaps because of the ailments which led to her premature death from kidney failure at the age of just 26); Gable and Pidgeon are fine but not all that memorable; and the large cast of supporting actors (including Lionel Barrymore, Una Merkel, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan, and Hattie McDaniel) simply reprise familiar archetypes. Saratoga isn’t a terrible film but limited to something audiences of the day likely enjoyed escaping into. The most interesting (albeit morbid and sad) aspect of this movie comes from observing how the crew managed to craft final scenes without Harlow: by filming her double from behind:

… wearing a wide-brimmed hat:

… and looking through binoculars.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

Must See?
No; this one is only must see for Harlow fans.


One thought on “Saratoga (1937)

  1. Not must-see. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it – however, certain points brought out in the assessment reminded me of how I felt about the film at the time I saw it. I only saw it because it was listed in the Peary book – and because it was Harlow’s last film. I do recall it as being lackluster. As well, I also recall the inclusion of the visual attempts to work around Harlow’s passing.

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