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directed by Victor Fleming
USA 1935

 

Reckless is a delightfully breezy screwball comedy from the same director (Victor Fleming) and star (Jean Harlow) responsible for the celebrated Bombshell (itself a film clef loosely based on Clara Bow) -- with the added appeal of William Powell. One can readily see the chemistry between the two stars at work, which would lead to their impending marriage at the time of Harlow's death a year later. The sets for the Broadway number that Harlow's Mona Leslie performs in are also extraordinary. Mona Leslie (Jean Harlow) is an up-and-coming Broadway actress, dancer, and singer, who leads a happy-go-lucky, freewheeling lifestyle; bailed out of jail by family friend Ned Riley (William Powell), a sports promoter who loves Mona but won't slow down his lifestyle long enough to give her the satisfaction of admitting it, she performs in a bizarre "benefit" show, only to discover that she has an audience of one, wealthy admirer Bob Harrison (Franchot Tone). He declares his love for her and a romance does develop, but when he proposes marriage, he discovers that his upper-crust set won't accept a showgirl as one of their blue-blood crowd.

Their romance leads to a marriage and desperate unhappiness for all concerned, most of all Harrison, whose basic neurotic nature gets worse as the marriage deteriorates. When Harrison takes his own life, Riley and Mona find themselves accused of every foul deed possible, and when Mona gives birth to a son, a legal battle ensues over custody of the child, with Harrison's family claiming that she is unfit. Finally, Mona decides to fight back -- she gets Harrison's family to stand down by giving up any claim to her late husband's money, but she must now contend with the nation's self-appointed moral guardians. No producer will take the risk of backing a show with Mona in it, but she finally gets a helping hand from Ned Riley. The movie has a few too many changes in tone, which detracts from the verisimilitude. The whole story is a film clef based on the tragic romance between torch singer Libby Holman and tobacco heir Smith Reynolds (which also provided fodder for such clef films as Brief Moment, Sing, Sinner, Sing, and Written on the Wind) -- and Harlow's singing is obviously dubbed, just as her dancing is doubled. Also, the songs -- except for the final two numbers -- don't quite fit with the melodrama, and the Damon Runyon-esque comic antics feel completely out of left field at times. But when she and Powell are onscreen together, the film just lofts into the air, past all of those flaws.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: 19 April 1935

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Jean Harlow: 100th Anniversary Collectio) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Also available in the Jean Harlow 100th Anniversary Collection (Bombshell / The Girl from Missouri / Reckless / Riffraff / Suzy / Personal Property / Saratoga)

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:37:06
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Vault - Radio promotion Leo Is on the Air (7:06)
• Audio Vault - Four pre-recording sessions on the MGM stage
• Theatrical Trailer (2:33)

DVD Release Date: October 25th, 2011
7 Keepcases in a box

Chapters 38

 

Comments

REVIEW of The Jean Harlow 100th Anniversary Collection: For the centennial of Jean Harlow in 2011, Warner Archive Collection released this lavish 100th Anniversary Collection of 7 of her MGM films from 1933 until her untimely death in 1937, including her final film, Saratoga with Clark Gable. Three of the missing films were restored and released just a year later - The Secret Six, Red Dust and Hold Your Man. At this time, only 2 films starring Ms. Harlow are missing from digital format - Universal's Iron Man and Fox's Goldie. While not her best or most famous films, all seven titles in this collection are A-pictures from one of the best studios in Hollywood featuring strong support to Jean Harlow from her male leads - Lee Tracy, Franchot Tone, Lionel Barrymore, William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Robert Taylor, Clark Gable. My favorites here are probably three earlier films that are also available separately - a lone pre-code in this collection Bombshell, The Girl from Missouri and Reckless, but four other films are enjoyable as well and we recommend picking up the whole collection rather than three titles separately - it's a better value.

All seven titles come in a separate keep case on a single-layered made-on-demand disc. 3 of the earliest titles mentioned above were also part of a new restoration. There is still some specs and excessive grain, but they are looking better than ever before on home video. The remaining four titles have their share of marks and specs; Suzy and Saratoga transfers look much softer. They surely show their age, but this is still a nice presentation considering age of the films and the quality of existing film elements. The mono audio is decent. Each film has some kind of added bonus - a Spanish-language trailers for Bombshell and The Girl from Missouri; theatrical trailers for Reckless, Riffraff, Personal Property and Saratoga; Lux Radio Theater Production of Madame Sans-Gene with Harlow and Robert Taylor on Personal Property disc; Radio promotion Leo Is on the Air for Reckless and Suzy; and finally four pre-recording sessions on the MGM stage from Reckless. The boxset also includes a collection of seven MGM publicity photos of Ms. Harlow. To learn more about Jean Harlow, we recommend a Dinner at Eight disc for a TCM documentary Harlow: The Blonde Bombshell (or to learn even less - a very 1960's disappointing biopic with Carol Baker - Harlow. Overall, this is highly recommended release from Warner Archives and would make a great gift for the holiday season.

  - Gregory Meshman  

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Also available in the Jean Harlow 100th Anniversary Collection (Bombshell / The Girl from Missouri / Reckless / Riffraff / Suzy / Personal Property / Saratoga)

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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