6.7/10
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43 user 20 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
Edit

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 »
Edit

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

MGM paid author Adela St. Johns $40,000 ($615,000 in 2017) for the rights to her novel. 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

Jan Ashe: Said he, and suddenly the moonbeams turn to worms - and crawl away.
See more »

Connections

Featured in MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) 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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