6.7/10
2,247
51 user 23 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), Becky Gardiner (adaptation)
Reviews
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:

She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The characters of Jan and Stephen Ashe were based on writer Adela Rogers St. Johns and her father, famed Los Angeles defense attorney Earl Rogers. Crime novelist Erle Stanley Gardner also used Earl Rogers as the basis for his most famous character - Los Angeles defense attorney Perry Mason. See more »

Goofs

At 21:19, we see that the gangsters are approaching, but when the car backs into the alley, too much time goes by before the gangsters actually pass by. See more »

Quotes

Stephen Ashe, Defense Attorney: Here, give this problem a little thought, Mr. Einstein.
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Connections

Referenced in MGM Parade: Episode #1.2 (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Lionel Barrymore Gives An Oscar Winning Acting Lesson
23 April 2000 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

They are alike, this father & daughter. Liberal, passionate, willful - they live life on their own terms, disdaining their narrow-minded relations. Few regrets & even fewer apologies cloud either conscious - yet each harbors a character trait that threatens to destroy them. Hers is emotional instability; his, acute alcoholism. Although both will make bad choices that will haunt them, each will continue to see their reflection in the other, unique & individual, A FREE SOUL.

Based on a book by Adela Rogers St. Johns, Norma Shearer gets top billing in this aged but enjoyable soap opera, and she is very good, turning on the histrionics most effectively. But it is Lionel Barrymore who gets full honors - and a Best Actor Oscar - for his portrayal of her brilliant, tragic, lawyer father. Masterfully, he dominates his every scene. His final appearance, a tempestuous summation to a murder trial jury, is considered a classic.

Playing the two very different men in Shearer's life are Clark Gable & Leslie Howard. Gable is excellent, oozing the virility that was about to make him a huge star. Howard deftly underplays his less flashy role and becomes the film's calm center. James Gleason as Barrymore's factotum, and Lucy Beaumont as Barrymore's patrician mother, both give memorable performances. Film mavens will spot Edward Brophy as one of Gable's henchmen & master stutterer Roscoe Ates as the man in the washroom window.


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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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