A Free Soul (1931)

CLARENCE BROWN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5.  

USA, 1931.  .  Screenplay by , dialogue by , based on the play by , from the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Clarence Brown.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1930/1931.  

It’s obvious that this was considered top-notch drama in its day, but by today’s standards it’s hopelessly melodramatic. plays a society girl who ‘goes bad’ when she lives with a sexy gangster (, making a star of himself in the process) and ruins her family name. Her alcoholic father () has to defend her classy suitor (, the living coma) when he kills Gable to protect Shearer from further shame. Shearer, who was a superb performer in the early days of talkies, clenches her hands and wails a lot, Barrymore makes endless speeches, and Gable smolders. A definite product of its time, hardly worth a second glance today.

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