Lola Burns is Hollywood's greatest Blonde BOMBSHELL - but her life is a chaotic wreck thanks to eccentric relatives, sassy staff and studio publicity director Space Hanlon. Jean Harlow & Lee Tracy are wonderfully matched in this pre-Code Comedy, one of the funniest films of the 1930's, and another proof - if one was needed - that Hollywood had an endless appetite for self-ridicule. With her platinum hair and couturier's parade of billowy fashions, Harlow is still essentially playing a parody of her own unhappy private life. Her constant high-decibel groans of complaint as to her celebrity's misuse at the hands of those closest to her have the ring of veracity. And no one gives her greater grief than Tracy, who is determined to wring every last drop of publicity out of her, even if his meddling in her personal life drives her insane. Immovable object meets irresistible force. Result: laughter. A most impressive gathering of character actors appear in the supporting cast: sturdy Pat O'Brien as Harlow's director pal; delightful Frank Morgan as her dyspeptic father; Ted Healy as her shiftless brother; Una Merkel as her conniving secretary; and Louise Beavers as Harlow's plain talking maid. Franchot Tone adds a touch of class to the proceedings as a sophisticated fellow who takes a shine to Harlow; Mary Forbes & marvelous old Sir C. Aubrey Smith are his wealthy parents. Ivan Lebedeff gives some laughs as a penniless marquis who is happy to live off of Harlow's money. Movie mavens will recognize boxing champ Primo Carnera in the opening montage; Greta Meyer as Harlow's masseuse; Gus Arnheim as the Coconut Grove band leader; Ethel Griffies as one of the orphanage representatives; and Billy Dooley as the lunatic who claims Harlow is his wife - all uncredited. Although the action takes place in the imaginary Monarch Studios, all the real stars & films mentioned are pure MGM. This was one of five films Lee Tracy made for MGM in 1933 (CLEAR ALL WIRES!, THE NUISANCE, TURN BACK THE CLOCK, DINNER AT EIGHT, BOMBSHELL), and arguably the best role of his career. It was certainly the culmination of nearly all the other roles he'd had over the past couple of years in various studios, where he'd perfected the depiction of shyster lawyers, unscrupulous talent agents, snoopy reporters & disreputable gossip columnists. There is certainly no telling how far he might have gone with MGM, but his career literally went south in 1934 after a few moments of drunken indiscretion. While in Mexico for location shooting for VIVA VILLA!, Tracy stepped out onto his hotel balcony and urinated on a passing military parade. He was immediately arrested and deported from the country. Embarrassed & furious, Louis B. Mayer fired him instantly from MGM. With only the smaller studios willing to hire him, Tracy's film career largely slipped into obscurity. Years later, no longer young, he did some television work. He had a short comeback, of sorts, in 1964, when he was nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar for THE BEST MAN. This was to be his cinematic swan song; old and tired, he no longer resembled the hot shot who delighted audiences in the early 1930's. Lee Tracy died in 1968 of cancer, at the age of 70.
A glamorous film star rebels against the studio, her pushy press agent and a family of hangers-on.
December 27, 2020