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Original title
Running time
97 min.
United States United States
P.J. Wolfson (Story: David O. Selznick)
Jack Virgil
George Folsey (B&W)
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Musical. Comedy. Drama | Melodrama
Synopsis / Plot
Producer David O. Selznick had dreams of musical stardom for Jean Harlow when he cast her in the melodrama Reckless, based on the tragic life of Broadway singer Libby Holman (called Mona Leslie in the movie). Harlow is charming in the film and does some of her finest dramatic acting, but she's no musical star. She looks uncomfortable lip-synching her songs, and the little bit of hoofing she does is nothing to write home about. As is the case in so many 1930s movies, the film's message is class-related. Mona has two rivals for her affections: humble sports promoter Ned Riley (William Powell) and millionaire playboy Bob Harrison (Franchot Tone). The viewer knows that Mona would be happier with Ned, but she elopes with Bob, dazzled by his yacht and his fancy talk. Little does Mona know that Bob was once engaged to marry his childhood sweetheart, Jo Mercer (a young and lovely Rosalind Russell). Bob soon realizes that he's made a mistake marrying Mona; he doesn't have the guts to stand up for her among his snooty family and friends. What's impressive about this movie is that it doesn't pull any punches--the tragedy here is wrenching and real. And knowledge of the parallel events in Harlow's own life (her catastrophic marriage to Paul Bern) renders the film even more poignant. --Laura Mirsky (From
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