Reporter Gallagher loves reporter Smith who marries Anne. He\'s soon bored being married to a socialite and asks Gallagher to help him write a play. She arrives with a bunch of reporters and the mansion turns into a party. Anne arrives and orders them out and Smith goes with them.
Loretta Young ... Gallagher
Robert Williams ... Stew Smith
Jean Harlow ... Anne Schuyler
Halliwell Hobbes ... Smythe, The Butler
Reginald Owen ... Dexter Grayson
Edmund Breese ... Conroy, The Editor
Don Dillaway ... Michael Schuyler (as Donald Dillaway)
Walter Catlett ... Binji Baker
Claud Allister ... Dawson, The Valet
Louise Closser Hale ... Mrs. Schuyler
Platinum Blonde launched so many careers - the most infamous being Frank Capra and Jean Harlow. It is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. The sound is bad, Harlow is terribly miscast, and poor Loretta Young struggles valiantly to bring depth to a part that is the filmic equivalent of wallpaper. As many have said before me, she and Harlow would have done well to reverse roles.
But the greatest on screen portrayal of fresh, modern, naturalistic acting (a style that later would be attributed to James Dean) is from the wonderful, refreshingly brilliant young Robert Williams in 1931!!!!! I would never mark this film as a masterpiece, yet I would encourage all struggling male actors to study this man\'s work as a prime example of how to dominate a scene without any artifice or aggression. Every time he enters a room, the whole film lights up, and every time he leaves, all the other actors seem to lose their purpose and energy.
I have never seen such simple perfection, and I am saddened to no end to learn of his untimely death at thirty-four, just as he was starting to get roles worthy of his genius. I could not get enough of this man\'s work, and regret having so little of it to view. An absolute must see for Robert Williams alone!
\'Platinum Blonde\' doesn\'t showcase fully the good-time girl with the baby voice groomed by MGM shortly afterwards; this was Jean Harlow post-Howard Hughes, a year after \'Hell\'s Angels\' and cutting her teeth on roles that weren\'t quite right at Columbia.
Still, she gets a chance to be flirty and shirty throughout this film, and it\'s always good to see her on the screen. Loretta Young is first billed lady in the cast but her character, Gallagher the newspaper woman, is strictly second banana. But she looks glamorous when attending a ball, and she\'s memorable.
The male lead is Robert Williams, rarely seen or remembered nowadays, having made only a handful of films before his early death shortly after the release of his best role in this. As newspaperman Stew Smith he is boisterous, chirpy, and reminded me of both Lee Tracy and Cary Grant (both of who also appeared on screen with Harlow). In this tale of a Cinderella man made good, he is just perfect.
\'Platinum Blonde\' is also an early outing for director Frank Capra, and if it doesn\'t stand up as well as his later work (\'Mr Deeds Goes To Town\', \'Mr Smith Goes To Washington\', \'It\'s A Wonderful Life\'), it sparkles as one of the best films of the first few years of the talkies.
It\'s astonishing to me that \"Platinum Blonde\" is the work of Frank Capra. Contrary to most of his better work, its pacing is simply glacial. Scenes drag on and on, with actors rambling about nothing. Characters are absolutely two-dimensional. Naturally, the rich are thoughtless snobs and boobs, reporters are fun-loving, snide and worldly. The plot is so predictable that you can figure out the entire movie in the first 15 minutes. What is trotted out as \"class struggle commentary\" is in fact paper thin.
Robert Williams is easily the most irritating leading man I can recall seeing (not counting Carrot Top or Pauly Shore). He is physically unappealing and has a personality that would cause most cats and dogs to cross the street to avoid him. What is supposed to be his \"witty banter\" usually consists of insulting blather or self-aggrandizement. He\'s about as believable a romantic lead as Edward Everett Horton. Why we should believe that Jean Harlow and Loretta Young compete for his affection is the mystery of the ages. Any comparisons with Spencer Tracy are preposterous.
Jean Harlow is beyond comprehension. How did she ever gain the fame that follows her? Her face is rather plain, as can readily be seen in the close-ups. Her \"platinum hair\" has simply been bleached of any color. Her figure is nothing special; her performance is equally mediocre. Being cast against type here may strike some as a clever decision, but Harlow is simply not up to playing a high-bred society miss. She is charming at times, but was much better in \"Dinner at Eight\" or \"Red Dust\".
Loretta Young is appealing and does the best she can with her role, for which she is entirely miscast.
If you\'re a Capra completionist or a big Jean Harlow fan (my apologies), you may want to watch this, with a finger poised on the fast-forward button. Otherwise, save yourself the disappointment.