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A Free Soul (1931)

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:

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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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

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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

The first film to be Oscar nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, and not Best Picture. Also, it is the first film to be nominated for both lead acting categories and Best Director, without a Best Picture nomination. 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

Ace Wilfong, Gangster Defendant: How much do you love me?
Jan Ashe: How much? Let me see how much... well, it's about ten feet high and about seven feet wide.
Ace Wilfong, Gangster Defendant: No, no, never mind that.
Jan Ashe: Oh, I can't measure it now, its a storm at sea.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Some of the Best (1944) 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

 
Nice Cast Elevates This Shearer Soaper
10 February 2009 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Norma Shearer slinks and giggles her way through another melodrama, this one noted for not only her but the presence of Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable and Leslie Howard.

Not a bad cast, eh?

The story has a lot to it, too - too much to go into here. It's basically a father-daughter story with the daughter having a good guy and a bad guy both after her, and her taking in all the attention she can get. I've only seen two Norma Shearer films but she played a similar character in both. She's likes to giggle, show off her body and flirt but doesn't want commitments. (The Divorcée was the other film in which I saw her.) For much of this film, this is a gender-reversal with the woman being the "heel."

Barrymore plays her dad, an alcoholic defense attorney. If, for nothing else in this movie, he's remembered for his impassioned speech at the end of the trial. It WILL get your attention! Clark Gable plays the toughie and Howard plays the suave nice-guy both vying for Shearer's love.

There is truth to a number of things in this film such as "Jan Ashe" (Shearer) finding the not-so-nice guy more "exciting" over a genuine gentleman. Why many women are like that - preferring the grubby-looking thug - who knows, but Shearer is good at playing that role. Shearer's Harlow-like attire and no-bra look got my (and Gable's) attention, too.

The movie should be enjoyed by most who like this kind of a melodrama and/or appreciate good acting and a bit of star-gazing.


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