ⓘ Harlow (Paramount film)


ⓘ Harlow (Paramount film)

Harlow is a 1965 American biographical film directed by Gordon Douglas about the life of film star Jean Harlow. It stars Carroll Baker in the title role, and Raf Vallone, Red Buttons, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Martin Balsam, and Leslie Nielsen in supporting roles. It was released by Paramount Pictures, shortly after another film with the same title and subject. Although the film failed commercially, it was successful in launching the hit song "Girl Talk," by Neal Hefti.


1. Plot

The film opens with Harlow as a struggling extra and bit actress dealing with her greedy stepfather Marino Raf Vallone and oblivious mother "Mama Jean" Angela Lansbury, only six years older than Carroll Baker. With the help of Arthur Landau Red Buttons, she rises to fame and gains the unwanted attention of the Howard Hughes-inspired Richard Manley Leslie Nielsen. She then marries Paul Bern Peter Lawford, an absentee husband who kills himself some time after the marriage. His death, combined with the stress of her career, leads Harlow on an odyssey of failed relationships and alcoholism, culminating in her death of kidney failure at the age of twenty-six.


2. Cast

  • Hanna Landy as Beatrice Landau
  • Red Buttons as Arthur Landau
  • Peter Leeds as Parker
  • Mary Murphy as Sally Doane
  • Peter Hansen as Assistant Director
  • Peter Lawford as Paul Bern
  • Carroll Baker as Jean Harlow
  • Martin Balsam as Everett Redman
  • Sonny Liston as a fist fighter
  • Angela Lansbury as Mama Jean Bello
  • Mike Connors as Jack Harrison as Michael Connors
  • Leslie Nielsen as Richard Manley
  • Kipp Hamilton as Marie Tanner
  • Raf Vallone as Marino Bello

3. Production

The concept of depicting Jean Harlow on film had originated in the 1950s. Many actresses were reported to play Harlow in different biopics, i. e., Cleo Moore for Columbia and Jayne Mansfield for Fox, but both of these projects fell through. In 1962, it was officially released that Marilyn Monroe would play Harlow in a lavish biopic as a part of her new contract with Fox. However, after Monroes death, the project was sold to Paramount, who cast Carroll Baker in the title role. Based in part on Harlow: An Intimate Biography, writer Irving Shulmans pulp biography, Paramounts Harlow is a melodramatic look at Harlows life, focusing on her failed marriages. The widescreen Technicolor film, produced by Joseph E. Levine, was made on a $2.5 million budget, and featured a wide-reaching publicity campaign.

Douglas later said that during filming Baker "was very sick, physically and also mentally, I think. She was going through bad times. But she did a hell of a good job on the picture."

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