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

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Overview

User Rating:
6.7/10   1,244 votes »
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Up 26% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Adela Rogers St. Johns (from the book by)
John Meehan (dialogue continuity)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for A Free Soul on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 June 1931 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss! See more »
Plot:
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:
Awards:
Won Oscar. Another 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
If it doesn't fit, you must acquit! See more (32 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Norma Shearer ... Jan Ashe

Leslie Howard ... Dwight Winthrop

Lionel Barrymore ... Stephen Ashe

James Gleason ... Eddie

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

John Meehan (dialogue continuity)

Becky Gardiner (adaptation)

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)
Al 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


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Additional Details

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

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Willard Mack's play, based on Adela Rogers St. Johns's novel, opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 12 January 1928 and closed in April 1928 after 100 performances. The opening night cast included Melvyn Douglas as Ace Wilfong and Kay Johnson as Jan Ashe.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: At 3:31, Eddie is putting creamer in the coffee for a second time.See more »
Quotes:
[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:
Soundtrack:
By the River Sainte MarieSee more »

FAQ

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30 out of 36 people found the following review useful.
If it doesn't fit, you must acquit!, 14 February 2005
Author: Ursula 2.7T from my sofa

Johnny Cochrane must've learned some legal tricks from this old movie. For example, at the beginning of the movie, Lionel Barrymore gets Clark Gable acquitted of first degree murder when he places the hat found at the scene of the crime on Clark's head ... clearly the hat is too small. The court and jury laugh, and Clark is set free!

This entire movie was great -- much better than I had expected. I saw two Norma Shearer movies recently with a similar-sounding plot recap: Their Own Desire (Norma Shearer falls for the son of her father's illicit lover), and this one, A Free Soul (Norma Shearer falls for her lawyer father's mobster client). Having watched Their Own Desire first and not being impressed with it, I wondered if I should even bother with A Free Soul. But bother I did, and I'm glad for it. It was an excellent movie.

Lionel Barrymore is the black sheep of his snooty, well-heeled family. His wife died while giving birth to their only child, Jan (Norma Shearer). Being the black sheep, Lionel raised Norma to be a "free soul", to not be afraid of anyone or anything, to not be afraid to make mistakes, and to pick herself up and dust herself off whenever she did find herself in trouble. This has apparently worked well for Norma, until she meets and eventually tries to get away from Clark Gable. Norma finally learns there are consequences to all actions, that one can't be a "free soul" without it having some type of repercussion on one's life.

We also have Lionel Barrymore (whom I always love in anything I see him in) this time very compelling as a brilliant alcoholic lawyer who loves his daughter more than anything but who ultimately doesn't know how to protect her. He disappoints her, and he disappoints himself, but in the end he seeks to right his wrongs by defending Norma's ex-fiancé (to say more would be to possibly spoil the movie).

This movie was fresh, and the characters were sympathetically developed without ever resorting to being maudlin or melodramatic. This movie was also chock-full of great lines. For example:

(Lionel to Clark, upon learning Clark wants to marry Norma) - "The only time I hate democracy is when one of you mongrels forgets where you belong!"

(Norma to Clark, trying to get Clark to quit talking and make love to her) - "Men of action are better in action; they don't talk well."

Great early pre-code movie.

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