Platinum Blonde (1931)

Platinum Blonde (1931)

“You’re my pal, aren’t you? Don’t turn female on me!”

A reporter (Robert Williams) falls for and marries a blonde heiress (Jean Harlow), not realizing that his gal-pal (Loretta Young) has a crush on him.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cross-Class Romance
  • Frank Capra Films
  • Jean Harlow Films
  • Journalists
  • Loretta Young Films
  • Love Triangle

Frank Capra directed this pre-Code romantic comedy featuring a fine lead actor with a tragically short life: Williams (who I hadn’t seen in anything before this) seemed destined for some kind of stardom, given his natural ease and humor on-screen, but died of peritonitis four days after this film’s release. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Loretta Young is wide-eyed and luminous in her supporting role as Williams’ would-be girlfriend, and Harlow shows typically sassy charm. The storyline itself is a fairly standard tale of classes clashing (we can predict who will end up with whom), but it offers a few memorably nutty moments — most notably Williams and Harlow singing a variation on “The Farmer in the Dell” as Harlow insists to Williams, “You’re gonna be a good boy and wear garters!”, and the scene in which a butler (Halliwell Hobbes) attempts to demonstrate what “puttering” means to Williams.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Robert Williams as Stew Smith
  • Jean Harlow as Anne Schuyler
  • Loretta Young as Gallagher
  • Some enjoyable “pre-Code moments”

  • Joseph Walker’s cinematography

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for one-time viewing.


One thought on “Platinum Blonde (1931)

  1. Not must-see. Undone by a weak script that leaves director Capra and his cast (as so often happens with inferior material) doing too much, in an attempt to compensate. If only it were even mildly amusing; it’s simply tiresome. The biggest irritant: Harlow (who seems barely engaged on-screen) and Williams can’t seem to make their mutual attraction believable.

    The only one who survives this slog is Loretta Young – looking ravishing and revealing a naturalness which (overall) she didn’t seem to maintain in the latter part of her career. (Seeing her work here makes me want to see some of her other very early performances.) Alas, she’s not helped by the fact that her attraction to Williams (whose character is more or less a jerk) makes no sense either.

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