Platinum Blonde

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

Unrated, 89 mins., black and white, 1931 (Columbia TriStar) This early Frank Capra romantic comedy established Jean Harlow as a star – decades later it’s still easy to see why. As a society lady trying to smooth out the rough edges of Robert Williams’ hard-boiled newsman, she tosses off an erotic spunk that makes Britney seem sluggish by comparison. But the revelation here is Williams, a stage actor who’d made only three films before being cast by Capra. With his expressive regular-guy mug (think Bill Murray) crossed with a dazzling physical and verbal dexterity (think Cary Grant), he makes every frame he’s in crackle. (Tragically, he died of peritonitis four days after Blonde’s opening.) And as Williams’ office mate who secretly pines for him, Loretta Young is surprisingly natural, and their scenes together have a lovely delicacy.

Originally posted November 7 2003 — 12:00 AM EST

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