Finally available on video, Frank Capra’s early talkie holds up solidly, and not for the reasons you might think. True, the movie’s title is synonymous with brassy Jean Harlow, who walked away from Platinum Blonde a star. But Harlow is really miscast as a blue blood who falls for a scruffy newspaper reporter, and Capra hasn’t yet established his brisk, humanistic style. No, the reason Blonde works as well as it does is due to the long-forgotten Robert Williams in the part of the reporter. Possessed of natural poise, able to play both laconic and sophisticated, Williams comes off either like Noël Coward’s roughneck brother or Robert Mitchum a generation early. When this movie opened in 1931, reviews centered on Williams, and stardom seemed assured — but the actor was already in the hospital fighting an infected appendix. He died, at age 33, four days after Blonde’s premiere. Sixty-one years later, this video hints at a career that might have been. B
Genre: Comedy, Romance; Starring: Jean Harlow, Robert Williams, Reginald Owen, Robert Williams, Loretta Young; Director: Frank Capra; Runtime (in minutes): 90; MPAA Rating: Unrated; Distributor: Columbia Tri-Star Home Video
Posted January 17 2015 — 1:02 PM EST
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