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André De Toth
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In this story, Harlow starts in the movies as set dressing, the pretty girl who is used for the glamour shots. Refusing to descend to the casting couch for work, she finds that she is soon blacklisted from the industry. But an agent named Arthur sees something in Jean and begins representing her. For a long time, the jobs are scarce and consist mostly of receiving the pie in the face in low budget comedies. But Arthur's belief in Jean never wavers and when she finally graduates to featured roles, the critics say that she cannot act, but she is unforgettable. Polishing the image as the girl next door, but with some fire, she begins her climb to the top and becomes the girl every woman wants to look like and every man wants to have. But her own life is a disaster - unlike her screen life. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film appeared the year after Carroll Baker had played "Rina Marlowe", a Harlow-type Hollywood sex siren, in "The Carpetbaggers", which was also produced by Joseph E. Levine. Critics laughingly suggested that, in a few years' time, Levine might well produce a biopic called "Baker"; in fact, it was only another year before he produced "The Oscar", in which Jean Hale, made up to look like Carroll Baker, played a Hollywood actress called "Cheryl Barker". See more »
Jean complains about having to report to the studio at 5 a.m. each morning but the shadows as she leaves home are clearly midday. See more »
No doubt the fact that there were two movies about Jean Harlow in 1965 might surprise some people; to add to that, apparently neither Carroll Baker nor Carol Lynley was the right woman to play her (I have to admit that I've never seen any of Jean Harlow's movies - unless you count her appearance in "City Lights" - so I can't comment one way or the other). Either way, this "Harlow" seems to go in two directions. On the one hand, it shows how the Hollywood dream looked: the opening scene shows what many people coming to Tinseltown expected, and then Jean Harlow gets to live that dream...at least superficially. On the other hand, the portrayals of Harlow's public life and private life make it nearly impossible to determine which is to be best remembered. Here, her frustration with her mother (Angela Lansbury) and anger at her stepfather (Raf Vallone) get played to almost comic effect. Is every movie star doomed to have something in his/her personal life that has to get sensationalized in a biopic?
So, I would say that this movie takes the same approach to its subject that "Mommie Dearest" did: trashy, but something about the movie gives it an almost desirable feeling. Did I like the movie or hate it? Well, it has its visuals (I would call Carroll Baker a visual in and of herself), and it sure beats any Steven Seagal movie for smarts. In a way, that's about it. Since I don't really know much about Jean Harlow, I just have to accept what "Harlow" says. It's not outright worthless, but don't make it your first choice. Also starring Red Buttons, Martin Balsam and Leslie Nielsen.
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