6.7/10
2,000
46 user 22 critic

A Free Soul (1931)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 20 June 1931 (USA)
An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.

Director:

Clarence Brown

Writers:

Adela Rogers St. Johns (from the book by), John Meehan (dialogue continuity) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Norma Shearer ... Jan Ashe
Leslie Howard ... Dwight Winthrop
Lionel Barrymore ... Stephen Ashe
Clark Gable ... Ace Wilfong
James Gleason ... Eddie
Lucy Beaumont ... Grandma Ashe
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Storyline

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 <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Free Woman With A Free Soul See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 June 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Free Souls See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$529,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was a success at the box office, earning MGM a profit of $244,000 ($3.75M in 2017) according to studio records. See more »

Goofs

In the emotional scene when Shearer promises to give up Gable, Barrymore's hair changes between close-ups and medium shots. See more »

Quotes

Casino Valet: Well, well, Mr. Ashe, we've been waiting for you. This is quite an honor.
Stephen Ashe, Defense Attorney: Honor, my hat!
See more »

Connections

Version of The Girl Who Had Everything (1953) See more »

Soundtracks

By the River Sainte Marie
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played as background music during the restaurant scene
See more »

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User Reviews

The Big Speech
10 October 2006 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Some movies are theatrical in the sense that all their values and methods are derived from stage values. This is one.

Some movies are in that sweet spot after talkies got going and before the code was enforced, so they have a vitality that is lacking for a few decades afterwards.

This fits those two overlapping pockets and is a fine example of theatrical acting. The story is simple: a woman from a "fine" family spends time with a gangster for exciting sex. She has an unnatural bond with her "mountebank" father, a drunken lawyer both of which characteristics give him an excuse to be broad in his acting style.

The father forbids the affair and dramatic complications arise. Its an excuse for speechifying, which is done fabulously so long as you understand the tradition. Barrymore is perhaps the last great speechifier in this tradition, though Olivier would hang on for much longer and be celebrated out of nostalgia.

There's an interesting fold in this. The audience has a surrogate on screen, in the jury. Courtroom movies have since this grown into a solid tradition. As the case is made to the jury, it is made to us. This is special because was an early edition of that model, say before Mockingbird and Christie. Because of that, the speechifying to us/jury is fresher, more direct, less burdened with mature movieness.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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