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 A FREE SOUL (1931), Gable makes Shearer suffer!!!
Posted: Dec 1 2007, 07:00 AM

Advanced Member

Group: Member
Posts: 372
Member No.: 493
Joined: 1-October 06

This is a great pre-coder - Norma Shearer is at her most
It is a film about addictions. Lionel Barrymore plays Stephen
Ashe, a renowned criminal lawyer, who is an alcoholic.
His daughter Jan (Norma Shearer) is addicted to living life
as "a free soul".
When he defends gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) against
a murder charge, he gets Ace off with some court room
There is instant animal attraction between Jan and Ace. Jan feels
stifled by her stuffy family. Ace brings Stephen Ashe home drunk
in the middle of Grandma Ashe's birthday party and is rejected
by the family. Jan is disgusted and goes off with Ace.
After being shot at and then meeting his "mob" she embarks
on a wild affair with him.
After making a bargain with her father - that if he stops drinking,
she will stop seeing Ace - her father falls off the wagon so she
goes back to Ace. His true colours are revealed and Jan goes
home in shame.
I won't reveal the rest for fear of "spoiling" it.
Norma proves to me once again why I adore her. She runs the
emotional rollercoaster from sweet, high spirited girl to sultry
seductress to shamed woman.
Lionel Barrymore was rivetting as the alcoholic lawyer - I thought
he easily out shone everyone in the cast.
I think Clark Gable was excellent in to me a sympathetic villain.
In a film as much about the class system, he was often talked about
as "dirt from the other side of the tracks". He adored Jan and from
the first wanted to marry her. There was a scene about half way
through when he said that Jan never wanted to go out to public
places with him. He was really just a plaything for her.
Leslie Howard played her long suffering fiance.
Adela Rodgers St John wrote the story. I have read something
about her young life. Her father was a very flamboyant lawyer
who was supposedly the inspiration for Perry Mason. Maybe the
Lionel Barrymore character was based on her father.
I would heartilly recommend it.
Posted: Dec 1 2007, 09:03 AM

Mega Member

Group: Super Member
Posts: 1,596
Member No.: 226
Joined: 5-December 05

Barrymore won his only Oscar and I'd say he deserved it. His whole performance is excellent but especially in the courtroom scene. A good demonstration of Norma Shearer's versatility as an actress as well. As you've pointed out, she's quite the vixen, sultry and intoxicating ...

Gable was still pretty much untyped (and clean shaven) at that time but rising fast ...

Thanks for the great review ... I haven't watched this in a long long time ...
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