On TCM, this month’s star is Jean Harlow, and it’s about time! I’m still stunned that so few of her movies are available on DVD.
The only significant release is this 4-movie Legends collection, which contains two of her best — the all-star comedies Libeled Lady (airing March 15) and Dinner at Eight (airing March 29) — one adventure with Clark Gable (but not the best-known one), and one forgettable romance, Wife vs. Secretary, also with Gable. That one’s interesting for showing her dedication to her job over her love life, but I found it slow-going and hard to finish. (Find out for yourself on March 22.)
Anyway, Harlow Month begins on Tuesday, March 8, with another of her best, this time a non-ensemble piece: Red-Headed Woman. Harlow plays a secretary aiming to sleep with the boss, break up his marriage, and get into society. Since it came out in 1932 (pre-Code), she struggles and suffers but isn’t ultimately punished for any of this. (Compare with The Girl From Missouri, which airs March 29. This second movie, which has a very similar plot, came out in 1934, after the Code was imposed, which means everyone thinks she’s doing the same thing but it’s clear that she’s not fooling around, she’s just a victim of gossip.)
Also airing Tuesday night: Suzy, a war romance that finds Harlow torn between Cary Grant and Franchot Tone; Riffraff, a union drama with Spencer Tracy; and Three Wise Girls, which I’ve never seen, which makes it a treat. It’s one of those “girls try to make it in the big city while avoiding married men” stories; it also stars Mae Clarke, the woman best known these days for having a grapefruit shoved in her face, and Marie Prevost, fabled in Nick Lowe song for disgusting reasons.
Continue watching on Tuesdays in March for more great Harlow films. All of her biggest are airing — Bombshell, Reckless, Red Dust, Platinum Blonde — plus lots more.