Review: ‘Harlow’

Second biopic of Jean Harlow is handsomely mounted. As the ill-fated Jean Harlow, Carroll Baker is a fairly reasonable facsimile although she lacks the electric fire of the original.

Second biopic of Jean Harlow is handsomely mounted. As the ill-fated Jean Harlow, Carroll Baker is a fairly reasonable facsimile although she lacks the electric fire of the original.

Script by John Michael Hayes is based on the questionable (at least in Hollywood) biog by Irving Shulman, who wrote tome in collaboration with Arthur Landau, the star’s first agent. The part of Landau is fashioned almost on a par with the star character herself in the opening reels, past the needs of the story which essentially focuses on girl’s rise to become one of the hottest properties in films of that era.

Several real-life characters are thinly veiled while parts of star’s mother and stepfather are importantly projected. Angela Lansbury undertakes role of Mama Jean with quiet conviction, and Raf Vallone in the Marino Bello-stepfather role, also lends a persuasive presence.

Martin Balsam, head of Harlow’s studio (here called Majestic Pictures) who gives her her chance at stardom, is the thinly-veiled Louis B. Mayer.

Harlow

Production

Paramount/Levine. Dir Gordon Douglas; Producer Joseph E. Levine; Screenplay John Michael Hayes; Camera Joseph Ruttenberg; Editor Frank Bracht, Archie Marshek; Music Neal Hefti Art Dir Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1965. Running time: 125 MIN.

With

Carroll Baker Martin Balsam Red Buttons Michael Connors Angela Lansbury Peter Lawford

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