IMDb > A Free Soul (1931)
A Free Soul
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A Free Soul (1931) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 14% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Adela Rogers St. Johns (from the book by)
John Meehan (dialogue continuity)
View company contact information for A Free Soul on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 June 1931 (USA) See more »
She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss! See more »
An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won Oscar. Another 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Clark Gable dominates Norma Shearer and the rest of the cast in the story of a girl who wanted to live her life as a free soul. See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Norma Shearer ... Jan Ashe

Leslie Howard ... Dwight Winthrop

Lionel Barrymore ... Stephen Ashe

Clark Gable ... Ace Wilfong

James Gleason ... Eddie
Lucy Beaumont ... Grandma Ashe
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roscoe Ates ... Man Shot at in Men's Room (uncredited)
Ann Brody ... Hamburger Saleslady (uncredited)
Edward Brophy ... Slouch (uncredited)
James Donlan ... Reporter (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Birthday Party Guest (uncredited)
Francis Ford ... Skid Row Drunk (uncredited)
Henry Hall ... Detective in Raid (uncredited)

George Irving ... Johnson - Defense Attorney (uncredited)
Edward LeSaint ... Judge (uncredited)
Sam McDaniel ... Casino Valet (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Court Clerk (uncredited)
Frank Sheridan ... Prosecuting Attorney (uncredited)
Phillips Smalley ... Birthday Party Guest (uncredited)
William Stack ... Dick Roland (uncredited)
Larry Steers ... Ed - Casino Official (uncredited)
Carl Stockdale ... Drug Store Proprietor (uncredited)
Charles Sullivan ... One of Ace's Gang (uncredited)
E. Alyn Warren ... Bottomley - Ace's Chinese Butler (uncredited)
Claire Whitney ... Aunt Helen (uncredited)

Directed by
Clarence Brown 
Writing credits
Adela Rogers St. Johns (from the book by)

John Meehan (dialogue continuity)

Becky Gardiner (adaptation)

Phillip Dunning  uncredited
Dorothy Farnum  uncredited
John Lynch  uncredited
Willard Mack  play (uncredited)

Produced by
Clarence Brown .... producer (uncredited)
Irving Thalberg .... executive producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
William H. Daniels (photographed by) (as William Daniels)
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
Costume Design by
Adrian (gowns)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles Dorian .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
Anstruther MacDonald .... sound recording engineer (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Milton Brown .... still photographer (uncredited)
A. Lindsley Lane .... second camera operator (uncredited)
Nelson McEdwards .... assistant camera (uncredited)
William Riley .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Hugh Wynn .... film editor
Music Department
William Axt .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Other crew
Howard Dietz .... press representative (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
93 min (Turner library print)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Argentina:Atp | USA:TV-PG | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

When the final version of the movie went before Hollywood censors, they demanded that MGM cut the scene where Norma Shearer lays on the bed and suggestively asks Clark Gable to put his arms around her. The studio ignored the demand and released the film uncut.See more »
Continuity: In the emotional scene when Shearer promises to give up Gable, Barrymore's hair changes between close-ups and medium shots.See more »
[after Ace and Jan are shot at, he takes her to his hideaway]
Ace Wilfong, Gangster Defendant:Slouch, tell her why the Hardy mob tried to fix me up. Tell her the facts, Slouch.
Slouch:Well, the mug that was rubbed out, Miss, was a snooper of the chief's running with the Hardy mob, slipping us the lowdown. Hardy gets hep to it and he puts the rat on the spot. They nab the boss's "kelly" and plants it. Your old man jaws him out and the Hardy mob grabs the typewriters and the ukeleles.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in "MGM Parade: Episode #1.3" (1955)See more »
By the River Sainte MarieSee more »


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11 out of 21 people found the following review useful.
Clark Gable dominates Norma Shearer and the rest of the cast in the story of a girl who wanted to live her life as a free soul., 4 October 1999
Author: brisky from Glendale, CA

"A Free Soul" is best known as the film which cemented Clark Gable's film reputation and catapulted him into a 30-year career as the King of Hollywood's leading men. In the year of "A Free Soul", 1931, Gable had no fewer than 10 films in release, three of them, "Possessed", "Laughing Sinners" and "Dance, Fools, Dance" with his most frequent screen partner Joan Crawford. "A Free Soul" tells the story of the relationship between an alcoholic lawyer (Lionel Barrymore) and his free-spirited daughter (Miss Shearer) who come to an impasse when she takes up with one of his clients, gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable). Miss Shearer is rejected by her high society family and becomes the possession of the brutal gangster who threatens her with a forced marriage (hey, it was 1931!) until her ex-fiance (Leslie Howard) shoots him. The last part of the story details Howard's trial and defense by Lionel Barrymore (who's final courtroom scene, shot with multiple cameras in one take, won him the Best Actor Academy Award). Although there is fine acting all around from Barrymore, Miss Shearer, Leslie Howard and the always excellent James Gleason, it is Gable who makes the greatest impact. His brutality towards Miss Shearer must have shocked the audience's of 1931 who were used to having her treated with respect by her screen lovers. But at the end of the picture, her relationship with Gable is much easier to understand than her less volatile, but more socially acceptable attachment to gentleman Leslie Howard (his murder of Gable, notwithstanding). The film vividly illustrates a popular theme of films at the time of a definite social schism. In a diatribe of non-equality between the "classes" as delivered by lawyer Barrymore, he illustrates that beasts like lower-class Gable can clean themselves up and cross the "tracks" to the upper-class but they can never really be accepted by their "betters." However, there were probably very few women in the audience who wouldn't have liked to have been pawed by Gable regardless of his social standing, at least once (or twice, if they were lucky). Director Clarence Bull ultimately would work with Gable in 10 pictures (6 with his co-star, Joan Crawford). Miss Shearer looks beautiful in designer Adrian's loose top, tight bottom bias cut gowns (a look which would typify MGM leading ladies in the early 30's). Her final courtroom entrance wearing a hat, a big fur and an Adrian gown would be copied on-screen for decades to come (Joan Collins first entrance as Alexis Carrington on TV's "Dynasty" comes to mind). Norma Shearer is obviously from the upper class, but passionate enough to take up with lug Gable and make her desire for him completely believable. Leslie Howard gives an understated but effective performance. However, with the sexual fireworks between Gable and Shearer he quickly fades into the background. This film is a good example of exactly what made Clark Gable into a star. It was also, probably the film that launched the phrase, "Who do you think you are? Clark Gable?".

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