TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Legends - Jean Harlow (Dinner at Eight / Libeled Lady / China Seas / Wife vs. Secretary)
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Sea captain Clark Gable has his hands full on the Hong Kong-Singapore route: secret gold hidden below decks, pirates, a typhoon. None of which truly matters, since the real action here is animal attraction: Gable can't believe the one classy lady (Rosalind Russell) he ever loved has come on board the same time as his bawdy mistress (Jean Harlow). Director Tay Garnett does well by the storm at sea and the marauding pirates, but he knows the real fun is when Gable and Harlow trade smoldering glances and caustic one-liners. And if more deliciously vulgar dialogue is needed, Wallace Beery is there to spray it around. However preposterous all this may seem, it's so spicily written (script by James Kevin McGuinness and the gifted Jules Furthman) and perfectly cast that it satisfies on pretty much every level. Gable was at his prime here, a bullheadedly confident example of machismos americanus in his natural habitat, and in Harlow he found his perfect unpretentious sparring partner. China Seas is essentially a rehash of their teaming in Red Dust, but absolutely nobody minded. --Robert Horton
For such an unheralded movie, Wife vs. Secretary provides a surprisingly satisfying time, aided immensely by the old MGM gloss and a trio of big stars. Clark Gable, so secure in his manly-man pictures, reminds us that he could be a dab hand at lightweight romance; his role is a typical Gable world-beater, a publishing tycoon with a lavish Manhattan lifestyle. But here he's happily, blissfully married, and his scenes with wife Myrna Loy are playful and cute. The only glitch is, his secretary is Jean Harlow, and despite Gable's fidelity, tongues will inevitably wag. Harlow here has none of the boisterous sass of her earlier pairings with Gable--she really is just an efficient and plucky secretary, even if boss and assistant trade charged glances during a business trip to Havana--and so the movie's tone is pretty genteel. The greenhorn James Stewart, still a couple of years from stardom, plays Harlow's mild but suspicious suitor, and he gets stuck with obligatory dialogue urging Harlow to give up her job and settle down with him. (The movie is interesting in showing how productive and fulfilled Harlow is by work rather than marriage.) MGM mainstay Clarence Brown directed, with an approach so dignified that nothing, alas, ever gets too giddy. Still, Gable and Loy are so fun together the movie succeeds. For Thin Man fans who can't get enough of Loy and the idea of marriage-as-playtime, this is a good fix. --Robert Horton
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Main Feature. Bonus Material/Trailer May Not Be Subtitled).
Top Customer Reviews
And what a slap in the face to Harlow fans who have kept this star's flame alive for over 70 years - March 2011 will be the 100th anniversary of Jean Harlow's birth. Some birthday present!!! Shame on you Warner Bros. (who now has the rights to the vintage MGMs) when it comes to Jean Harlow you are almost as bad as the notorious Universal handling of the vintage Paramount catalog!
If you have never seen Jean Harlow in action and want to know what all the fuss is about, by all means grab this collection. DINNER AT EIGHT is perhaps Jean's most legendary film and her comic barbs are as delicious as the bon bons she munches on. Equally delightful is the comedy LIBELED LADY which was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award in 1936. CHINA SEAS is a roaring comedy/adventure on the high seas with Jean's greatest leading man Clark Gable; WIFE VS.Read more ›
Where are the DVD releases for Suzy, Reckless, RiffRaff, Bombshell, Iron Man, Three Wise Girls, The Beast of the City, The Girl from Missouri, Hold Your Man, Red Dust, Goldie, Personal Property, and most importantly, Saratoga, Jean's last film? The perfect box set would include Jean's entire filmography, plus the four or so documentaries made about her life and the two 1960s biopics (despite basing their information on Irving Shulman's false "biography").
At least throw us a bone by releasing a Harlow/Gable box set!
Grab this if you would like to see all four films for one low price, but for we Jean Harlow fans, the repackaging of four previous DVD releases is disappointing and insulting.
In that review I said something to the effect that maybe Harlow couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, but who cares? She was just too adorable & lovely. Since then I've seen other Harlow movies & discovered something: When she wasn't playing a vamp and just an "ordinary" woman...she was damned good! Very natural, very competent. Up to this point I had only seen her in "shady lady" type roles.
Please don't misunderstand, I loved her in the vampy roles too, and part of the fun was that she did seem to go way over the top & overact. Now I realize that she WAS an "ordinary" woman (who happened to be stunningly attractive) and the vamp roles were wildly out of character--hence the tendency to overact. She was playing a part that was nothing like her true self. The overacting was funny & I think it allowed people--like yours truly--to identify even more with her.
In this regard she was very much like Marilyn Monroe (who was probably inspired by the Harlow Plantimun Bombshell legacy.) Both actresses were real photogenic Aphrodites, but their little foibles allowed people to see them as being just like "real" people. Women loved them as much as men--and this was a real secret to their success. If they had been as perfect as they looked, they would have inspired envy in other women, not adulation.Read more ›
My issue with this set is given that it is so long overdue, it would have been nice if it had been a truly comprehensive set with special features and films that are not currently available on dvd. It should be quintessential Harlow with films such as Suzy, Girl From Missouri, Platinum Blonde, Red Dust, Riffraff and my absolute personal favorite Red Headed Woman(already on dvd in the Forbidden Hollywood set).
Harlow was the original Hollywood blonde and had such an innate gift for comedy that this set while good, certainly isn't as good as it might have been. My major concern is that while she has now been given her own 'collection' will her fans have to wait years to see more titles released? I certainly hope not. Considering Harlow had a relatively short career, it is nothing less than amazing that she left such a substantial film legacy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
love the classics.... a must see for those who enjoy old films...Published 1 month ago by marshamello
Good mixture--really shows off the talent of a lady whose life and career got cut shortPublished 3 months ago by KermReads
Plenty of other people have reviewed the films' quality. but I'l like to point out that -- contrary to Amazon's description and some of the reviewers' complaining -- the edition I... Read morePublished 3 months ago by T. Everett
I have actually bought this DVD FIVE TIMES!!!! It seems everyone of my friends claim they don't like "old movies" yet MY copies keep disappearing! Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
There is just NO couple on the screen like Jean Harlow and Clark Gable were! They were true loves!Published 4 months ago by Wendy Moose
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