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 <email@example.com>
I thought A Free Soul an interesting exploration into the world of addiction--father Stephen Ashe, as played by Lionel Barrymore, struggles to balance his career as a defense lawyer and the disastrous effects his alcoholism has on his family and social life. Daughter Jan (Norma Shearer) has a similar problem--but her addiction is to a free and easy lifestyle, with no commitments and no responsibility. Both seem to be ways of dealing with an unspoken loss--perhaps that of a wife and mother. Again, as with all good storytelling, backstory is only hinted at but the characters are rich enough to imply a great deal of history. Refreshing to see Clark Gable as a suave, handsome but ultimately despicable character. A surprising lack of stereotypes for such a film-the Ashes are a patrician, proper family who virtually disown Stephen and his daughter, but they are shown to be intelligent, unique people none the less. A wonderful, melodramatic exploration of the relationship of a father and daughter. Some nice location work for an early talkie.
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