American showgirl Suzy is in London in 1914. She loves Irish inventor Terry 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 as war is breaking out.
Jean Harlow ... Suzy
Franchot Tone ... Terry
Cary Grant ... Andre
Lewis Stone ... Baron
Benita Hume ... Madame Eyrelle
Reginald Mason ... Captain Barsanges
Inez Courtney ... Maisie
Greta Meyer ... Mrs. Schmidt
David Clyde ... \'Knobby\'
Christian Rub ... \'Pop\' Gaspard
George Spelvin ... Gaston
Una O\'Connor ... Landlady
Theodore von Eltz ... Revue Producer
Dennis Morgan ... Officer (as Stanley Morner)
What a loss to films when Jean Harlow died. She was so immensely likable, with a wonderful vulnerability. In \"Suzy,\" she marries one man (Franchot Tone) in London, believes him dead and fears she\'ll be arrested for his murder, runs to Paris, and ends up married to a pilot (Cary Grant).
The story was interesting, enjoyable, and poignant, but a little confusing. I sat through the entire film saying to myself, \"Why did France go to war in 1936?\" I knew it was supposed to be World War I - sort of - but only because 1936 made no sense at all. The clothing, however, was very \'30s.
Cary Grant plays his part of a war hero and bounder very well. The sweetest scenes were between Harlow and Lewis Stone, who plays Grant\'s ill father.
The final scenes were exciting, with a lot of airplane footage from \"Hell\'s Angels.\" Virginia Verrill dubbed Harlow\'s singing, and I assume Grant did his own. Interesting how people in those days sang with that very rapid vibrato.
Well-made, if occasionally preposterous WWI-era romance is always entertaining even if it ends up being rather jumbled by the final reel. The primary problem with the film that it is seriously over-plotted, which may stem from the fact that no less than four writers are credited with adapting Herbert Gorman\'s novel. The pace of the film is also off, leaving far too many major plot points to be ran through in the film\'s final third, which leaves the picture feeling top-heavy. Director George Fitzmaurice does a commendable job of piecing together such a sprawling screenplay into a reasonably coherent film, and does his best with a limited budget (the film makes extensive use of various stock footage, notably Howard Hughes\' 1930 classic HELL\'S ANGELS, most of which is adequately incorporated into the finished film).
What the film really has going for it, however, is an extremely fresh and likable performance by Jean Harlow as the titular character, who nearly carries the film single-handedly with her considerable screen presence. Franchot Tone and Cary Grant may draw some criticism for utilizing improper accents, but both actors contribute solid performances as the men in our heroine\'s life - and Grant has a particularly lovely scene in which he sings a few lines of the Oscar-nominated song \"Did I Remember\" to Harlow. The film also makes the best of it\'s meager budget and offers above average sets and costumes (even if the style is unarguably more 1936 than it is 1914). In the end, the film mostly works on a scene-by-scene basis (with even a few wonderful moments thrown in), but never gels into a completely satisfying whole.
Noting the cast, I recently watched this movie on TCM, hoping for an under-appreciated gem, as I regard many films from the 30\'s. This is no gem - not even semi-precious. The anachronistic clothing and 1930\'s Rolls Royce limo hit you immediately. The casting is strange, also. But mostly, there are too many dumb and unnecessary plot devices. This film has lots of good ingredients and a basic plot that holds promise, but the components aren\'t mixed according to the right recipe. It simply doesn\'t come together like it should. And that\'s a shame. WIth a few rather obvious, but minor alterations, this might have been a very good movie.
The film is about an American showgirl (Jean Harlow) seeking a rich British husband - preferably from the nobility. She meets Franchot Tone and his buddy, who are on a lark in a Rolls Royce owned by his buddy\'s employer. Harlow assumes Tone is the Lord who owns the Rolls. This is a light comedy until Tone unwittingly uncovers the fact that his employer is actually a German 5th columnist on the eve of WWI.
That is when the movie changes tone altogether and begins to fall apart. Tone and Harlow are married, but just as the honeymoon begins, he is gunned down by a Mata Hari-type (Benita Hume), and Harlow flees the scene, with a bystander accusing her of Tone\'s murder. (In fact, Tone recovers from the wounds.)
Harlow flees to France, where she falls in love again - this time with a wealthy French cad (Cary Grant). Tone, now in the army, and Harlow are unexpectedly brought back together in Grant\'s hospital room where he is in rehab from a plane crash. In the following scene, Tone accuses Harlow of abandoning him because she is essentially a gold-digger. Harlow never explains about the witness\' accusing her of murder and her panic! That is one of those unreal, movie-plot-device break-downs in the story.
Then Tone is also brought back into contact with the woman (Hume) who shot him. She is on hand to watch her paramour, Grant, test the new plane that Tone has delivered to him from England. Incredibly, both Hume and Tone dimly recognize each other, but simply can\'t place where from! Okay, so Tone was shot and almost died; perhaps his memory is a little out of whack. But how many men did Hume shoot that she would forget one of her marks? (She does not seem to be faking the memory lapse.)
This is inexplicable and unnecessary. Hume should have absolutely recognized him, but played it coy when she realized that Tone wasn\'t able to place her. That would have been a much better treatment of that issue.
The finale also is very unsatisfying. The movie, as made, has Tone and Harlow conspiring to preserve the good reputation of the cad, Grant, leading to his fraudulent burial as a hero. Then Harlow and Tone just walk away. It is noble to preserve the French public\'s perception of their national war hero, but very unsatisfying as a love story!
What the film begs for is this: Harlow explains that she fled in a panic in the face of accusations of murder; Tone forgives her and quietly rekindles his love for her; he then carries a torch for her, even while helping her to rig the crash site to preserve Grant\'s reputation. Meanwhile, Harlow finally recognizes Grant for the cad he is. Then having seen Tone for the brave and noble man he is, Harlow rekindles feelings for him, too. At film\'s end, the two of them become reconciled even as they work together to rig the appearance of Grant\'s death. After Grant\'s hero\'s burial, we see them embrace and kiss at the fade-out. That would have made a nice little movie. For Cary Grant fans, it would have been even better had Tone played the French cad who is killed and Grant the long-suffering first husband, reunited with Harlow.
It is incomprehensible that Franchot Tone is cast as the Irishman living in England, while Cary Grant is cast as the Frenchman. This movie would have been much better had they reversed roles. That also would have been more conducive to the film that should have been...
# The flying scenes for this movie were not shot by MGM. They were outtakes from Hell\'s Angels (1930) filmed by Howard Hughes.
# The outtakes from \"Hell\'s Angels\" cost the life of three of the WWI ace pilots as well as injury to Howard Hughes himself when he crashed flying in one of the scenes. Since only one out of every 249 feet of film shot was used in \"Hell\'s Angels\" there was more than enough left over to lease to other films like this one. It also helped offset the tremendous cost to Hughes of filming his movie.