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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
My God, she is stupendous! As real as unreal gets., 25 July 2003

I always loved Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner, but not so much Jean Harlow. Me = dumb. I'd only seen clips of her films here and there. I always thought she was a hot one-liner, a glamour girl. But after seeing this, my first full length Jean Harlow experience, I admit that Miss Harlow was a truly great screen artist with the gift of creating rich characters. I simply fell in love with her, not because she was the first blonde bombshell or because she died young and became a legend. In this film, Miss Harlow's character is multi-dimensional beyond the traditional 1930's moll. She starts out one place and travels an arduous journey to end up on the other side of life. I loved her tough exterior. I loved her smile. I loved her song at the piano. My God, she was stupendous, she made me burst into tears when she sang her sad song. Most of all, I loved the HAPPY ENDING, Hollywood style. One other thing I was thrilled about was the African American inmate and her preacher father. Anita Loos was SO ahead of her time. She wrote 2 characters who were so lovely and so real. The inmate girl and her father brought such harmony to their scenes with all the white folk. A REVELATION for me. I hate stereotypes.

21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
A gem for any closet sophisticate and old-school romantic. Miss. Rainer is MAGIC, 21 July 2003

(Sorry for any misspellings or grammar problems, I wrote this fast.)

I saw this film last night on Turner Classics. I was very touched by the film's romantic sensibility. Yes, the film has a B movie feel. Yes, the performances are typically surface in a 1930s outdated style. Yes, at times it was obvious this was not Paris but a studio sound stage. But I forgive all of those things because that's what one does in film and theater: suspend disbelief to experience the characters' journey.

Here, the characters are all drama students who are either utterly disenchanted (Paulette Goddard) or romantically idealistic (Luise Rainer). All of the characters share the dreams of stardom and I find that element a universal and timeless trait: To be a successful STAR.

I was captivated by Rainer. She's no different than how Marilyn Monroe (or any great artist) must have felt on her way up. Rainer is magical, almost like a silent screen star with her exagerated facial expressions. And also like Garbo with her dark, European voice. I think that Rainer is the film's heroine in the traditional sense of Heroism. She overcomes poverty, social criticism, and artistic limitations by just living through her own perspective and by her own rules. Also, she's a very young woman, a student. And young people do make mistakes like the ones she makes in the films. Yes, I felt she was a real character.

In all fairness, I am not used to the exagerated style of her acting. I much more related to the fast talking Lana Turner or Paulette Goddard. But that's because they are very American and so am I: I like fast-talking broads. However, Rainer's romantic quality is rooted in her unknowable otherworldliness and I love her for that. I was swept off my feet into her idealistic heart. She took me there. Exactly like how I felt when I watched Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. Pure fantasy, and I love this film because of that.

Not to sound elitist but a true gem for any closet sophisticate and old-school romantic.