A Free Soul (1931)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  20 June 1931 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,482 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 19 critic

An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.



(from the book by), (dialogue continuity), 5 more credits »
0Check in
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Divorcee (1930)
Certificate: Passed Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a woman discovers that her husband has been unfaithful to her, she decides to respond to his infidelities in kind.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Chester Morris
Private Lives (1931)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Elyot and Sibyl are being married in a big church ceremony. Amanda and Victor are being married by a French Justice of the Peace. Both couples go to a hotel on the same day and are put in ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Reginald Denny
Night Nurse (1931)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A nurse enlists the help of a petty criminal to foil a sinister plot to murder two children.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell
Possessed (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Ambitious factory Girl Marion Martin meets a handsome well-to-do, but he's interested in her as a mistress, not a wife.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Wallace Ford
Red Dust (1932)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The owner of a rubber plantation becomes involved with the new wife of one of his employees.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Gene Raymond
Certificate: Passed Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The neglected wife of a high profile attorney dallies with a unscrupulous womanizer and finds herself involved in blackmail and murder.

Director: William K. Howard
Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Una Merkel
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Lil works for the Legendre Company and causes Bill to divorce Irene and marry her. She has an affair with businessman Gaerste and uses him to force society to pay attention to her. She has ... See full summary »

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Jean Harlow, Chester Morris, Lewis Stone
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

John has led a solitary life for thirty years since the death of Moonyeen Clare. But now Owens, a close friend, insists that he care for his niece, Kathleen, orphaned when her parents were ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard
Bombshell (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Sexpot film star Lola Burns seeks a new image and tries marrying a marquis, adopting a baby -- all sorts of schemes which go awry.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, Frank Morgan
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

After Nina Leeds finds out that insanity runs in her husband's family, she has a love child with a handsome doctor and lets her husband believes the child is his.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Norma Shearer, Clark Gable, Alexander Kirkland
Hold Your Man (1933)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Ruby falls in love with small-time con man Eddie. During a botched blackmail scheme, Eddie accidentally kills the man they were setting up. Eddie takes off and Ruby is sent to a reformatory for two years.

Director: Sam Wood
Stars: Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Stuart Erwin
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Although Vivian Revere is seemingly the most successful of a trio of reunited schoolmates, she throws it away by descending into a life of debauchery and drugs.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Virginia Davis, Joan Blondell, Anne Shirley


Complete credited cast:
Ace Wilfong
Lucy Beaumont ...
Grandma Ashe


Stephen Ashe, an upper class alcoholic defense attourney, successfully defends local mobster Ace Wilfong in a murder case. After his daughter Jan Ashe breaks her engagement to polo player Dwight Winthrop and starts an affair with Wilfong, she finds that the liason is not easily severed when she wants out. Winthrop earns Miss Ashe's true affections by killing Wilfong to break his grip on her. Now the question is, can Stephen Ashe save Winthrop with an impassioned defense speech to the jury? Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss! See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 June 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Free Souls  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A contemporary magazine described one of the negligees, designed by Adrian, for the film, as follows: "Norma Shearer can well afford to look regal with all of us clamoring for her more loudly than ever. She wears this knockout negligee in 'A Free Soul' which you must see. It's tangerine velvet, girls, with one of those trains that is simply 'tripping'!" The magazine article is describing the negligee Norma is wearing in the famous scene where she stretches out her arms towards Clark Gable and seductively asks, "Come on, put 'em around me." See more »


At 3:31, Eddie is putting creamer in the coffee for a second time. See more »


Ace Wilfong, Gangster Defendant: Do you think you could like me?
Jan Ashe: I don't quite know what's happened? Whether its just the end of a perfect day - or - whether I'm just a little mad.
See more »


Featured in MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) See more »


By the River Sainte Marie
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played as background music during the restaurant scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A New Kind of Man in a New Kind of World
18 May 2008 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Yeah, yeah, it's Gable and Howard 8 years before Gone With the Wind, and even then the former makes the latter look like a eunuch. A number of posters seem flummoxed by this little coincidence and by the early-talkie theatricality of this movie. But for its time it really moves and breathes, particularly in the impressive scenes of Norma Shearer and Lionel Barrymore camping in the Sierras, trying and failing to leave their addictions behind and repair their broken relationship.

Technically, this movie may be primitive, but in terms of content and meaning you couldn't get it made today: it's the story of a woman who uses a thug only for her own sexual pleasure, and the baffled and violent way the men in her life react. All three of them are outwardly brilliant and successful -- the lawyer, the gangster, and the rich polo player -- but have their vanity and weakness exposed when confronted with a powerful woman making her own choices. Some of the quieter moments of this movie are pretty devastating.

p.s. strange how the myth that Gable "slaps" Shearer persists... are people really watching this movie? He shoves her back onto a couch twice, and that's it. The real violence is what she does to him by treating him as a boy toy.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
14 Minute Monologue? More like 4 minutes... belikemichaeldotcom
Available on DVD as of 3/2008 Loxi
That was LIONEL not JOHN oldmotem
Discuss A Free Soul (1931) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: