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By 1936, Jean Harlow was one of MGM's biggest stars, whose comic turns as brassy, bawdy dames in such films as Red Dust (1932) and Dinner at Eight (1934) were audience favorites. She'd co-starred with some of the studio's biggest stars, and was now big enough in her own right to carry a film, and to show her versatility in dramatic roles. In Suzy (1936), her second drama in a row, Harlow plays an American showgirl in Europe during World War I who gets involved with Irishman Franchot Tone and Frenchman Cary Grant, not to mention assorted spies, flying aces, and all sorts of intrigue.
The script for Suzy had a lot of fingerprints on it. The legendary wit Dorothy Parker and her husband Alan Campbell had written a version, as had several others. Cary Grant, up-and-coming but not yet a major star, was loaned by Paramount to MGM for this film, and he was so unhappy with the script that he refused to do the film. Enter writer Lenore Coffee, who offered to make whatever changes Grant wanted. The two of them locked themselves into a hotel room and rewrote the script. The final version, while still heavy on melodrama and plot complications, had some lightness and charm, particularly during the romantic scenes between Grant and Harlow. It also had an Oscar-nominated song, "Did I Remember?" warbled by Grant and (a dubbed) Harlow. And it had some exciting aviation scenes, recycled from the Howard Hughes film, Hell's Angels (1930), which had provided Harlow with her first important film role.
While praising Harlow's performance in Suzy, most critics echoed Richard Watts, Jr.'s review in the New York Herald Tribune: "I will go on screaming in my customary wilderness that it is a great shame to waste Miss Harlow in such a role, when she should be exercising her vast gifts as a half-sophisticated, half-innocent comic." The studio paid attention, and her remaining films would all showcase her comic talents. Tragically, there would only be three more. Harlow died in June of 1937, at the age of 26.
Director: George Fitzmaurice
Producer: Maurice Revnes
Screenplay: Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Horace Jackson, Lenore Coffee, based on the novel by Herbert Gorman
Editor: George Boemler
Cinematography: Ray June
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Gabriel Scognamillo, Edwin B. Willis
Music: Dr. William Axt; song, "Did I Remember?" by Walter Donaldson, Harold Adamson
Cast: Jean Harlow (Suzy Trent), Franchot Tone (Terry Moore) Cary Grant (Andre Charville), Benita Hume (Mme. Diane Eyrelle), Lewis Stone (Baron Charville).
by Margarita Landazuri