Monday, June 1, 2009
Red-Headed Woman (1932)
You know the film Baby Face that I posted about? Well, lighten the tone, add a bit of comedy and you will have Jean Harlow's Red-Headed Woman.
Luckily, Jean Harlow has a wonderful gift for comedy, though I've only seen her in two films, her natural ability and charisma are hard to deny.
Harlow plays "Lil", a woman who is hell-bent on seducing and marrying her boss Bill Legendre (Chester Morris), despite the fact that he is already married. Her plan succeeds and she soon sets her eye on another, even wealthier man.
If I gave the impression that the film was light on plot, that's because it is. At 79 minutes, the film is fairly breezy and never falls into the point where we grow tired of Lil's cycle of using man after man, due to the central performance and a sharp script.
In Lil, Harlow is absolutely fantastic. As seen in Libeled Lady she is able to make a character seem tough without having to be overly sassy or spunky in addition to making a homewrecking golddigger seem likable, even when she crosses the line into full-on b*tchery.
The men in the film are fairly bland, which actually kinda works for the film. It allows Jean Harlow to dominate her scenes and not have to contend with an overpowering male presence, it also makes her using and abusing of the men seem more realistic, because they simply don't have the balls to stand up to her.
Though, praise must be given to Una Merkel, who plays Lil's friend Sally. The part is small, but she essentially acts as Lil's sassy conscience, constantly informing her how hair-brained her schemes are and how it's doubtful that she'll be able to pull them off.
The film is fun, despite going over the top at one particular point (you will know when you see it), and it really serves as a great showcase for Jean Harlow's talents (which makes her death all the more tragic), which makes it a great starting off point for anyone wanting to get into her filmography. And even then, it's still a great little film.