Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Red Headed Woman

(1932, USA, 79m, b/w)
d Jack Conway p Albert Lewin, Irving Thalberg sc Anita Loos ph Harold Rosson ed Blanche Sewell ad Cedric Gibbons cast Jean Harlow, Chester Morris, Leila Hyams, Lewis Stone, Una Merkel, Henry Stephenson, May Robson, Charles Boyer

Greedy, jealous and vain, Harlow’s got her sights set on the richest man in town. Good news is he’s her boss; bad news is he’s married, and his wife’s coming back early from her trip to Cleveland. Morris and Hyams make a handsome couple but Loos’ “progressive” (prurient) script falters in emphasising Harlow’s beauty over her more earthy charms, with the love/sex dichotomy tacked on as window-dressing. The Hays Office objected less to repeated shots of Harlow’s stocking-tops and salty girl-talk than to the fact that she remains unrepentant and unpunished to the end, a murderous gold-digger trolling from one sugar-daddy to the next, faithful “chauffeur” (Boyer - perfect) in tow. Even with her limited range, however, Harlow remains the infallible seductress and the role of the small-town slut without the class to make it in monied society beseems her as perfectly as Adrian’s stunningly flimsy eveningwear.

© Time Out Film Guide

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