on May 5, 2006
Robert Williams doesn't even get any billing on the DVD cover or on other promotions of this film, but he IS the star of the film....and he is outstanding.
Williams could have been a major star, a very well-known actor, had he not died four days after this picture was released with a ruptured appendix. The man simply puts on an acting clinic here. I wonder if young aspiring actors are ever shown this film and told to study Williams? If is wasn't for this film, I assume nobody would ever know about this guy.
Anyway, the movie is really dated but its interesting thanks to some great dialog, mainly, once again, by Williams. Jean Harlow gets the billing but a young Loretta Young has the real beauty and charm here. Too bad her role was so minor and bland. She looked absolutely gorgeous.
The storyline is one of Hollywood's favorite themes: the average Joe beating up on the snobby rich people. Harlow's "mother" in here (Louise Closser Hale) plays that snob role perfectly.
Even though I gave it only three stars, there are lots of laughs in this film and it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Watching Williams' acting performance is worth the price of the disc, and then some.
on August 17, 2004
Any B&W fan will appreciate this film. I LOVED Robert Williams--I thought he was refreshingly original and had great chemistry with both of his female co-stars, two stunningly beautiful and very different women. The scene with the the song about the garters is priceless, and one of the sexiest scenes ever filmed(and there are many other breathtakingly sexy scenes as well). Although it should have been called "Cinderella Man", in captures it's time period in every way. I would have loved to see Robert Williams in other roles after this one, but he died very shortly after filming. You'll also love the scene where Stew follows Ann into the library! Don't miss this cool and sexy film.
Platinum Blonde is the story of a newspaper reporter (Robert Williams), one of the best. His job is to investigate a scandal with one of the best known families, the Schuylers. He's so clever, he gets them to admit to a story against their will, but in the process is captured by the eye of beautiful daugher Anne (Jean Harlow). Although he scoops them, he also helps them out of the mess and makes his way into the family by eloping with Anne. This hurts his pal Gallagher (Loretta Young) who has loved him for years, but he's in his own world. He doesn't quite realize what he's getting himself into as a poor man wedding a rich family. Cracks from his friends ensue and day by day his wife does all that she can to change him.
Unfortunately, people have high expectations for this film, and it doesn't necessarily measure up. First of all, this is not typical Capra. There are not heartfelt messages of hope at the end. The characters do not signify what the average man strives to be or the pitfalls he faces. Secondly, Harlow does not play a seductress here; in fact, she's quite classy. Last, Williams is an unknown, and alongside an all star cast, he's the leading man. This can be startling because we have never seen him before and are therefore less likely to like him right off. The first time I saw this film, I was incredibly disappointed and what upset me even more was that this was Harlow's first DVD release. Although the title became her nickname, this is an awful way to experience typical Harlow, but it is a wonderful way for fans to see her in a new light.
If you can find a way to judge this film not based on expectations but on its own merits, you'll find it to be quite enjoyable. Each player is fantastic, namely Williams whose naturalness and easy humor makes the film breezy and fun to watch. Harlow is regal and intelligent, not the least bit green despite this being one of her first big films (before the eyebrow makeover). Young is fresh and exciting, quite thin, but absolutely gorgeous.
on April 19, 2015
Some wonderful notes are struck in this film...and it has the sense not to rush them. Anything with Loretta Young, let alone Harlow or this fella Williams from this period should be seen. Loretta Young was incredibly beautiful at this age...the most remarkable nose and profile, and those fabulous eyes. Harlow gets to be natural, and also pouty. Williams has a great casual presence, and the whole cast delivers there lines in a real natural way, even though a lot of them sound like ad libs that smart people would think of. Oh, and the sensibility of the ending is extremely touching. If a film was made now that could have such a warm ending, people would cheer in the theaters. Good endings are hard to find these days, even if they are predictable. And notice by this time the lighting and camera work was completely mastered.
on May 12, 2016
Given its age, "Platinum Blonde" holds up pretty well. Yes, its interest is pretty much as an historical artifact, and the dialogue is not as snappy as maybe it once was, but it's well-worn theme -- the marriage of social unequals -- still works. Robert Williams carries the film, with Jean Harlow and a very young Loretta Young mostly looking good.
Platinum Blonde remains a fine example of an early screwball comedy about very different people trying to coexist with each under stressful situations with plenty of silly lines and good laughs on the side. The script is certainly not the best you'll ever find but the actors do a superlative job with what they are given. The direction by Frank Capra reflects forethought and the camera angles help dramatize scenes in the movie as the plot unfolds.
The story starts with newspaper reporter Stew Smith, played by the very talented Robert Williams, going to get a story on a rich society scandal. He gets it; but he also gets the heart of the daughter of the wealthy Schuyler family, Anne, played by the beautiful Jean Harlow. Stew and Anne become romantically involved and the problems begin right along with the romance. Stew comes from a working class background and he wants to support his wife; but Anne has very different plans for him. This constant tug of war for control of their relationship dominates the rest of the movie plot.
In addition, look for Loretta Young playing Gallagher. Gallagher and Stew are friends; but to make matters even more complicated Gallagher wants more from Stew than friendship. Anne's mother and the family attorney spice up the plot even further with their histrionics about the tragedy of Anne's "funeral" relationship with Stew. Wow!
Will Anne and Stew stay together? Will Anne's family ultimately accept and love Stew as one of their own? Will Stew become "a bird in a gilded cage? "How will Gallagher fit into this plot? No spoilers here, folks: you'll have to watch the movie to find out the answers to these questions! SMILE
The cinematography impressed me; in 1931 it was still difficult for pictures to be shot without the camera staying still because microphones could not yet be moved about above the cameras. Nevertheless, in Platinum Blonde Capra manages to get both the cameras and the microphones moving as the actors move about the set. Excellent! The sound wobbles at times but this is to be expected from an older movie like this one.
I agree with the reviewers who write that somehow the title of this movie, Platinum Blonde, gives you the sense that Jean Harlow is the big star--but she doesn't quite get that honor when the credits roll. In fact, she gets second billing below Loretta Young! I agree with others who believe that the movie studio was indeed trying to play up the fact that Jean Harlow was in the movie.
The DVD comes with few extras; you merely get a couple of movie trailers. That irks me but in those days excess footage was not necessarily kept.
What a tragedy that poor Robert Williams died so soon after this picture was finished. He would have been a huge star had he lived longer
Overall, Platinum Blonde is a cross between a serious story and a purely comedic romp through relationships that become challenged when two people from very different backgrounds try to stay in love. Jean Harlow fans will treasure this movie; she never looked lovelier and her very convincing acting shines all the way through the picture. Fans of older movie classics will also enjoy watching Platinum Blonde.
on February 22, 2005
Just 18-year-old Loretta Young comes off as a very talented young actress in this, now three-quarters-of-century old comedy. Her character, of which a viewer will never know her first name, is vulnerable and pretty, especially in her evening gown. No wonder that the journalist colleague (played by Robert Williams) has hard time after snubbing her for a rich platinum blonde. The great bit of nostalgia stems from the fact that Williams died later that year the movie was completed and Jean Harlow (the platinum blonde) died a few years later. Otherwise, it is a surprisingly fresh and lovable comedy (although you shouldn't expect too much), with somehow familiar music and a merit to the name of Frank Capra, who went on to become one of the greatest director Hollywood has ever produced.
on January 26, 2010
Platinum Blonde (1931) is a delightful movie. I agree with you S.A. Alukonis "susansqueezy." I too just LOVED Robert Williams. He was so wonderful in his role. He was also on his way to becoming a great actor! In Platinum Blonde, Robert Williams is hilarious with his dry humor. He took the movie! It was so much fun to watch. A few minutes into the movie, I couldn't help but wonder who is this guy? I've never seen him before. I rewound to the opening credits and thought "Robert William" I've never heard of him. Who is he? My curiosity got to the better of me so of course, I just had to look him up. To my great sadness, I learned why I had never heard of him. In 1931, four days after the premiere of Platinum Blonde, Robert Williams died of a ruptured appendix at the age of 34. How incredibly sad! In 1931, Robert Williams made three other movies, i.e., The Common Law; Rebound; and Devotion. But, I could not find a single one of these movies anywhere. I do hope that one day these movies with Robert Williams will find their way on to DVD. I'm excited to see more of Robert Williams work. Jean Harlow was only 20 years old and Loretta Young was only 18 years old when they made Platinum Blonde with Robert Williams. It was fun to see Jean Harlow and Loretta Young at such young ages. To see actors and actresses grow up before the screen is one of many reasons I like old movies. I knew that Loretta Young had been around for quite some time, in the day, but I never thought so young. However, Loretta Young seemed quite mature for her 18 years old. She pulled her character off magnificently! I know many think that that Jean Harlow and Loretta Young were miss casted in Platinum Blonde that they should have switched characters but Loretta Young's character as a young, sweet, intelligent, woman was true to the kind of roles I've been use to seeing her play. The long flowing white dress Gallagher (Loretta Young) wore to the Schuyler's party was gorgeous. Jean Harlow was very curvaceous and had a sassy walk to go along with it. I highly recommend the movie! Also, the Schuyler's lawyer Dexter Grayson (Reginald Owen) bothered me as well because I had a hard time figuring out what movie I had seen him in. Finally, it hit me. He played the restaurant keeper Bernard Dalvik in A Woman's Face with Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas. Another great movie! One of many Joan Crawford's movie's I play regularly on rotation! Human Bondage with Bette Davis is another must see movie.
on September 12, 2009
Almost no one today knows the male star of PLATINUM BLONDE, Robert Williams. This screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra gave top billing to Loretta Young and Jean Harlow, both of whom were on the fast track to superstardom. Williams steals the show with many scenes of one who could charm the audience with his tough guy approach that would later catch on with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. Stew Smith (Williams) is a hard-nosed reporter whose specialty is delivering the scoop that others couldn't. He is assigned to cover a major scandal over a breach of promise suit with rich snobgirl Anne Schyler (Harlow). Smith meets Schyler and sparks fly. Naturally her family is aghast at the prospect of a working class stiff as an in-law. Williams has a co-worker Gallagher (Young) who loves him madly but he can't see her as anyone but one of the boys. Part of the comedy is that a beautiful woman like Gallagher (Young was 18 at the time) could possibly ever be taken as such. The rest of the humor lies in Smith as a fish out of water. When the Poor Man marries the Rich Girl, the Rich girl naturally assumes that the Poor Man will be more than happy to move from his dumpy apartment into her ritzy mansion while the Poor Man feels the same only in reverse. Director Capra uses the Schyler family as a cinematic straw man. With the possible exception of the butler and the son, everyone else in the Schyler clan is snooty, arrogant, and totally clueless in their collective belief that everybody has a price. Before Smith marries Anne, she tries to buy him off with a bribe of five thousand dollars to kill a story that would reflect unfavorably on her family. After their marriage goes predictably sour, she tries to buy him off again, this time with a big alimony that he manfully rejects. Harlow plays Anne as a woman who is so thoroughly entrenched in her family's arrogance that when she falls in love with Stew, that love cannot withstand her social prejudices. Some of the scenes that highlight these differences are not of the screwball type. In one revealing scene, Stew tries to tell her that he invited his hard-drinking friends to visit him in his new home. Anne can't stand them and retorts, "Your home?" Capra ensures that all of a Depression-afflicted America could look at the Schylers as social buffoons, totally unworthy of their riches and hence a legitimate target for ridicule. Williams is the true star and Young is effective in her role as one who loves a man who loves another woman. The inner tragedy is that Robert Williams died of a burst appendix just a few days after PLATINUM BLONDE was released in October 1931. He is justly remembered as a star in the making who was not permited to grow into more roles like this one.
on August 19, 2014
Fascinating look into early talkies. I love anything with Loretta Young, Her early movies are so interesting. Too bad Robert Williams died so young. He could have been great! Jean Harlow was also wonderful.