30 user 10 critic

Laughing Sinners (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 30 May 1931 (USA)
Cabaret performer Ivy Stevens in an affair with a low-rent traveling salesman is dumped in a 'Dear Jane' letter and finds solace in joining the Salvation Army.


Harry Beaumont


Kenyon Nicholson (play), Edith Fitzgerald (additional dialogue)




Complete credited cast:
Joan Crawford ... Ivy Stevens
Neil Hamilton ... Howard 'Howdy' Palmer
Clark Gable ... Carl Loomis
Marjorie Rambeau ... Ruby
Guy Kibbee ... Cass Wheeler
Cliff Edwards ... Mike
Roscoe Karns ... Fred Geer
Gertrude Short ... Edna
George Cooper ... Joe
George F. Marion ... Humpty
Bert Woodruff ... Tink


Cafe entertainer Ivy Stevens falls for sleazy salesman Howard Palmer and jumps from a bridge when he dumps her. Saved by Salvation Army officer Carl, Ivy reforms and joins the Army. When she runs into Palmer she falls for him all over again. Carl beats up Palmer and gives a speech to Ivy which induces her to return to the Army and to Carl. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Joan in a new type of role and a new color of hair, From the stage play "The Torch Song." (Print Ad- Houston Home Journal, ((Perry, Ga.)) 23 July 1931) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Most of the film was shot with Johnny Mack Brown in the role of Carl when it was decided to drop this footage and reshoot it with Clark Gable. See more »


One year after Howard marries his wealthy boss's daughter he is still a traveling salesman, staying in cheap hotels. The only reason for him to do so is in order for him to meet Ivy again, but it is absurd that his socialite wife would want her husband doing such a job. He could have encountered Ivy in some other way. See more »


Carl Loomis: [to Ivy] If you love him, and you want to go back to him, I'm not the one to set myself up as a guide. I just want you to be happy - whatever you do - but if you're going back because of what you've done, you don't need to, Ivy. We all stumble. All we can do is pick ourselves up again and go on and on and on until we find ourselves through our own mistakes. It won't make any difference to me, Ivy. I want you to know that...
[He turns to go but stops]
Carl Loomis: I guess you know where I'll be if you want me.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Joan Crawford (1962) See more »


London Bridge Is Falling Down
Sung by Joan Crawford to a child
See more »

User Reviews

Follow The Fold And Stray No More
8 December 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The second film that had Clark Gable and Joan Crawford together didn't start out that way. Laughing Sinners started out with Johnny Mack Brown as the Salvation Army Worker who saves Crawford and the film was completed when Louis B. Mayer saw the film and said reshoot it with Gable. This was after having seen them together in Dance Fools Dance where Gable was a villain and had only a couple of scenes with Crawford. This is according to Joan herself in a tribute she wrote in the Citadel Film Series Book, The Films of Clark Gable.

Crawford is definitely in her element as singer/dancer and good time Prohibition party girl who falls for the charms of Neil Hamilton, a traveling salesman. You know what a bunch of party animals they are, just ask Arthur Miller. Anyway Hamilton decides though he thinks Joan's great in the hay, he wants to marry the boss's daughter and does, leaving her flat and despondent.

One night as she's ready to throw herself off a bridge, Salvation Army worker Clark Gable stops her. She likes him, but still has a yen for Hamilton and he, her.

Given Clark Gable's later image the casting of him as a Salvation Army worker is ludicrous. Mayer knew that and during the course of the film he gives him a nice prison background before he joined Edwin Booth's Army. The only way Gable could possibly fit the part. Anyway Mayer did it for the obvious chemistry between Gable and Crawford.

It's more Joan's picture than his though. Later on her talents as a dancer which brought her to film in the first place would be not seen at all. So Laughing Sinners is a treat in that way.

The film is based on a Broadway play Torch Song which ran for 87 performances the year before and starred Mayo Methot, Reed Brown, and Russell Hicks in the parts that Crawford, Hamilton, and Gable have. Coming over from the Broadway cast is Guy Kibbee in the role of another salesman, the only one to repeat his role from Broadway. Roscoe Karns and Cliff Edwards play another pair of salesmen and Marjorie Rambeau is Crawford's party girl friend.

Russell Hicks is definitely more my idea of a Salvation Army worker, but Gable's more my idea of a leading man opposite Joan Crawford.

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English | Italian

Release Date:

30 May 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Complete Surrender See more »


Box Office


$338,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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