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Bombshell (1933)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 13 October 1933 (USA)
Sexpot film star Lola Burns seeks a new image and tries marrying a marquis and adopting a baby - all sorts of schemes which go awry.


Victor Fleming (uncredited)


John Lee Mahin (screenplay), Jules Furthman (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Jean Harlow ... Lola Burns
Lee Tracy ... E.J. 'Space' Hanlon
Frank Morgan ... Pops Burns
Franchot Tone ... Gifford Middleton
Pat O'Brien ... Jim Brogan
Una Merkel ... Mac
Ted Healy ... Junior Burns
Ivan Lebedeff ... Marquis Hugo di Binelli di Pisa
Isabel Jewell ... A Girl Friend (as Isobel Jewell)
Louise Beavers ... Loretta
Leonard Carey ... Winters
Mary Forbes ... Mrs. Middleton
C. Aubrey Smith ... Mr. Middleton
June Brewster ... Alice Cole
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tom Kennedy ... Minor Role (scenes deleted)


Lola Burns is at the top of the pile in Hollywood. But life ain't easy, what with her father and brother always hanging around for handouts, and devious studio publicity honcho Space Hanlon cooking up endless lurid newspaper stories. Makes a girl want to give up pictures. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


No wonder they called her Lola Burns, the bombshell! And how she could burn! And how she'll bomb you out of your dignity! (Print Ad- New York Sun, ((New York NY)) 19 October 1933) See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 October 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bombshell See more »


Box Office


$344,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Three Stooges (Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Moe Howard) were to be in the movie but never appeared. See more »


A piece of debris can be seen at the top of the camera lens in several of the shots of Lola riding a horse in the desert. The debris appears and disappears from shot to shot. See more »


Lola Burns: You go to Tahiti? Why you might get leprosy or - or somethin'.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Jean Harlow (1962) See more »


If I Were Only Sure of You
Music by Abner Silver
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User Reviews

Harlow Shines
8 December 2009 | by Doghouse-6See all my reviews

In the mid '30's, Myrna Loy penned (ostensibly) an article for Photoplay titled, "So You Want To Be A Movie Star," which went into grim detail about the grind that is the real life of a star studio player both on and off the soundstage. BOMBSHELL takes this conceit and runs with it as brilliant and lacerating satire.

Jean Harlow is at her best as Lola Burns, the at-once pampered and put-upon star in question. Depicted are the constant demands for Lola's attention, time, energy and money, and the film has fun with all of it, from fatuous fan-mag interviews and staged photo ops to Hollywood politics and trouble with household and studio staff. Though awakened at the crack of dawn, Lola gets breakfast in bed - but with sauerkraut juice instead of orange juice. "There are are no oranges," apologizes the butler, to which Lola retorts, "No oranges?! This is California, man!" Before she's even out of her boudoir, Lola's had to contend with the pandemonium created by last-minute schedule changes, fussing and bickering from hair and makeup people and the inconvenient attention of her outsized dog. Finally ready to leave the house, she laments, "Well, here goes for another day; 7:00 AM and I'm already dead on my feet!"

Also driving Lola to distraction with his constant headline-grabbing stunts is the scheming studio publicity director played by the irrepressible Lee Tracy, who always gave co-stars a run for their money when it came to on-screen dominance. Harlow more than holds her own with him.

Appearing in able support are reliable players such as Franchot Tone as an apparently blue-blooded suitor unaware of Lola's fame, Pat O'Brien as her understanding director, Una Merkel as a less-than-reliable personal assistant and Louise Beavers as maid Loretta, who is deferential to Lola but takes no prisoners otherwise (responding to Merkel's early-morning crabbiness, she warns, "Don't scald me wit'cher steam, woman...I knows where the bodies is buried!"). As Lola's bombastic father and ne'er-do-well brother, respectively, the usually-lovable Frank Morgan and the never-lovable Ted Healy are ultimately rather tiresome, but that's what their roles require.

In a good-natured way, the film throws in some weirdly biographical elements of Harlow's real life, in which she coped with familial hangers-on in the persons of her domineering stage mother and somewhat sleazy stepfather, and Lola's reference to her palatial home as a "half paid-for car barn" is reported to have been uttered by Harlow herself about her own ostentatious digs. There's even a scene depicting Lola doing retakes on "Red Dust," a hit for Harlow the prior year.

In addition to snappy dialog and a mile-a-minute pace, the picture is enjoyable for its time-capsule look at the Ambassador Hotel and Coconut Grove in their heyday, as well as the grounds of the MGM lot itself, all used as locations.

Although bordering on farce at times (but in a good way), BOMBSHELL gives the impression of an only slightly exaggerated look at what the "real" life of a top-name contract player might have been like at the height of the studio system, with Harlow giving perhaps her most genuine (and least mannered) comic performance.

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