Bombshell


1h 31m 1933
Bombshell

Brief Synopsis

A glamorous film star rebels against the studio, her pushy press agent and a family of hangers-on.

Film Details

Also Known As
Blonde Bombshell
Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 13, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Victor Fleming
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Tucson, Arizona, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the unproduced play Bombshell by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

On a typical morning, movie star Lola Burns, known to her fans as the "Blonde Bombshell," is besieged by the demands of both her free-loading family and her studio's publicity department, which is headed by the incorrigible E. J. "Space" Hanlon. In addition, Lola is told that, because of the whims of the Hays Office, she must abandon her new film and shoot retakes for her last project, Red Dust . While frantically learning her new dialogue, Lola confronts Space about his recent spate of scandalous publicity concerning her love life. After Space glibly informs Lola that scandal is what her adoring public wants, film director Jim Brogan, a recently divorced former lover of Lola's, shows up in her dressing room, anxious to become reacquainted. During the day's shooting, Marquis Hugo, Lola's current lover, whom Space jealousy had tried to keep off the set, begins to fight with an equally jealous Brogan. By pretending to be both Hugo's and Brogan's supporter, Space ends the conflict, temporarily dispelling Lola's disapproval.

That night at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Space arranges for Hugo to be arrested for immigration violations, but convinces Lola that he was not involved in the affair. When Lola immediately sees a newspaper headline announcing Hugo's arrest, however, she deduces Space's subterfuge and, once again, denounces him. Anxious to get Hugo out of jail, Lola, whose alcoholic father and gambling brother Junior regularly deplete her money supply, telephones Brogan and, without revealing her true intentions, asks him for a $3,000 loan. Lola then writes a letter to the studio head demanding that Space be fired. To placate the star, Space rushes to her house and, while feigning shame, tells her that as his last publicity act, he has brought a writer from the Ladies Home Companion to interview her. Touched by Space's gesture, Lola notifies the studio head to ignore her letter, then gives a "girl-next-door" interview to the matronly Companion writer. When the writer suggests that she might be more fulfilled if she were a mother, Lola becomes instantly obsessed with the idea of motherhood and tells Brogan, who had stopped payment on the Hugo's bail check when he learned for whom the money was intended, that she wants to marry and have babies.

Terrified by the suggestion, Brogan snidely advises Lola to adopt a baby from the orphanage on a thirty-day trial basis. To Brogan's surprise, Lola takes his recommendation to heart and picks out a baby boy from the local orphanage. When Space is asked by reporters if the rumor that Lola is pregnant is true, the publicist rushes to the Burns's house in a panic. After he learns about the adoption, Space arranges for a gang of reporters as well as Hugo and his lawyer, who are suing Brogan, to converge on Lola's house at the same time that the orphanage women are to conduct their interview with the actress. In spite of her desperate attempts to convince the orphange women that she would make a good mother, Lola's chances are sabotaged by both the untimely return of her drunken brother and the brawl that breaks out between Brogan and Hugo. Lola then overhears Space consulting with the reporters about the scandal and, in her fury, condemns not only Space, but her family and secretary as well. After announcing that she is through with pictures, Lola drops from sight but is eventually tracked to a desert resort by Space.

While Space teases her with studio casting talk, Lola is romanced by Gifford Middleton, a Boston "blue blood" who is oblivious to her movie star status. Taken with Gifford's florid flattery, Lola accepts his marriage proposal and prepares to meet his parents the next morning. Just as her meeting with the proper Middletons begins, Lola's father and brother, having been alerted by Space as to Lola's whereabouts, arrive at the resort. While her family disarms the Middletons with their boorish behavior, a little girl asks Lola for an autograph. Shocked by their discovery that Lola is "that actress" around whom so much scandal has circulated, the Middletons, including Gifford, declare her unfit to be a daughter-in-law. Angry and hurt by the rejection, Lola tells Space she is returning to Hollywood to resume her career, unaware that the Middletons are stage actors who were hired by Space. Back at the movie studio, Lola embraces Space and is about to confess her love when she overhears the Middletons arguing about their acting careers outside her dressing room. Thus exposed, Space endures Lola's ensuing but loving wrath as he rides with her to the set.

Film Details

Also Known As
Blonde Bombshell
Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 13, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Victor Fleming
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Tucson, Arizona, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the unproduced play Bombshell by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Bombshell


Inside jokes and movie connections abound in the Jean Harlow comedy Bombshell (1933), in which Harlow is cast as Lola Burns, a sexy, guileless movie star based on Clara Bow. Harlow had played a supporting role in Bow's The Saturday Night Kid (1929), and Bombshell director Victor Fleming had dated Bow, so both had inside information about their subject. The basis of the film was an unproduced play that took a serious look at the tragic situation of a star who is exploited by everyone around her.

In a story conference at MGM, screenwriter John Lee Mahin had the inspiration to turn the tale into a comedy ­ an idea seized by Fleming when he realized Bow's story was ripe for satire. "She used to be my girl," Fleming explained. "You'd go to her house, and there'd be a beautiful Oriental rug with coffee stains...and her father would come in drunk, and her secretary was stealing from her." As Bow was known as the "It Girl," the fictional Lola becomes the "If Girl." Lola works at "Monarch" Studios, as Bow had toiled at Paramount, to support hangers-on including an alcoholic father and dishonest secretary. Lola's household is overrun by oversized sheepdogs, just as Bow's had been by undisciplined Great Danes.

Bombshell also contains parallels to Harlow's own life. Script clerk Morris Abrams would recall that Harlow also worked hard, only to have her own family take her money, "just like the girl in the movie. She would come in at 6 a.m. each morning for makeup and hair and wardrobe and rehearsal, then shoot till dinner or later ­ and in they'd stroll in the middle of the day, dressed to the nines and riding high. They were parasites." Lola has an all-white house similar to Harlow's own, designed to complement her pale skin and platinum hair. Lola's movie career is illustrated with clips from Harlow's own films, and she is shown doing retakes for Red Dust (1932), in which Harlow had starred with Clark Gable under Fleming's direction.

The Fleming-like director in Bombshell is played by Pat O'Brien. Another character in the film, publicity agent "Space" Hanlon (Lee Tracy), is loosely based on MGM publicity chief Howard Strickling. In an off screen development, Harlow married the movie's cameraman, Harold "Hal" Rosson, before Bombshell was released. He also had photographed her in Red-Headed Woman (1932), Red Dust (1932) and Hold Your Man (1933). The marriage lasted only a year. Harlow's performance in Bombshell was a critical success, praised by Richard Watts, Jr. in the New York Herald Tribune as "the first full-length portrait of this amazing young woman's increasingly impressive acting talent."

Producer: Hunt Stromberg
Director: Victor Fleming
Screenplay: John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman, from play by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane
Art Direction: Merrill Pye
Cinematography: Harold Rosson, Chester A. Lyons (uncredited)
Costume Design: Adrian
Editing: Margaret Booth
Principal Cast: Jean Harlow (Lola Burns), Lee Tracy (E. J. "Space" Hanlon) Frank Morgan (Pop Burns), Franchot Tone (Gifford Middleton), Pat O'Brien (Jim Brogan), Una Merkel (Miss Mac).
BW-96m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe

Bombshell

Bombshell

Inside jokes and movie connections abound in the Jean Harlow comedy Bombshell (1933), in which Harlow is cast as Lola Burns, a sexy, guileless movie star based on Clara Bow. Harlow had played a supporting role in Bow's The Saturday Night Kid (1929), and Bombshell director Victor Fleming had dated Bow, so both had inside information about their subject. The basis of the film was an unproduced play that took a serious look at the tragic situation of a star who is exploited by everyone around her. In a story conference at MGM, screenwriter John Lee Mahin had the inspiration to turn the tale into a comedy ­ an idea seized by Fleming when he realized Bow's story was ripe for satire. "She used to be my girl," Fleming explained. "You'd go to her house, and there'd be a beautiful Oriental rug with coffee stains...and her father would come in drunk, and her secretary was stealing from her." As Bow was known as the "It Girl," the fictional Lola becomes the "If Girl." Lola works at "Monarch" Studios, as Bow had toiled at Paramount, to support hangers-on including an alcoholic father and dishonest secretary. Lola's household is overrun by oversized sheepdogs, just as Bow's had been by undisciplined Great Danes. Bombshell also contains parallels to Harlow's own life. Script clerk Morris Abrams would recall that Harlow also worked hard, only to have her own family take her money, "just like the girl in the movie. She would come in at 6 a.m. each morning for makeup and hair and wardrobe and rehearsal, then shoot till dinner or later ­ and in they'd stroll in the middle of the day, dressed to the nines and riding high. They were parasites." Lola has an all-white house similar to Harlow's own, designed to complement her pale skin and platinum hair. Lola's movie career is illustrated with clips from Harlow's own films, and she is shown doing retakes for Red Dust (1932), in which Harlow had starred with Clark Gable under Fleming's direction. The Fleming-like director in Bombshell is played by Pat O'Brien. Another character in the film, publicity agent "Space" Hanlon (Lee Tracy), is loosely based on MGM publicity chief Howard Strickling. In an off screen development, Harlow married the movie's cameraman, Harold "Hal" Rosson, before Bombshell was released. He also had photographed her in Red-Headed Woman (1932), Red Dust (1932) and Hold Your Man (1933). The marriage lasted only a year. Harlow's performance in Bombshell was a critical success, praised by Richard Watts, Jr. in the New York Herald Tribune as "the first full-length portrait of this amazing young woman's increasingly impressive acting talent." Producer: Hunt Stromberg Director: Victor Fleming Screenplay: John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman, from play by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane Art Direction: Merrill Pye Cinematography: Harold Rosson, Chester A. Lyons (uncredited) Costume Design: Adrian Editing: Margaret Booth Principal Cast: Jean Harlow (Lola Burns), Lee Tracy (E. J. "Space" Hanlon) Frank Morgan (Pop Burns), Franchot Tone (Gifford Middleton), Pat O'Brien (Jim Brogan), Una Merkel (Miss Mac). BW-96m. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Your hair is like a field of silver daisies. I'd like to run barefoot through your hair!
- Gifford Middleton
I didn't give you that for a negligee; that's an evening wrap!
- Lola Burns
I know, Miss Lola; but the negligee you gave me got all tore up night before last.
- Lorretta
Your day off is sure brutal on your lingerie.
- Lola Burns
Get away from me, all of you! you're nothing but a pack of leeches!
- Lola Burns
Leeches?!?
- Pops
Yes, leeches! At least he (motions to Space) was right; I don't know how I expected to bring a baby in here with an old fool for his grandfather who's half-drunk all the time!
- Lola burns
Lola, you're exciting yourself-
- Miss Mack
And what about you? Don't think I don't know about your stealing and all the cuts you get from the stores! And you (to Bro) who hasn't had a job to your name in three years and bringing her in here like it was a hotel for traveling salesman! I've only stood it because it's the only home and family I've got. But I'm sick of it, you understand? There's only Loretta and the dogs that ever do a single thing for me. The rest of you are only out for what you can get, and I'm sick of being a golden goose or whatever you call it!
- Lola Burns (interrupting)

Trivia

Caroline Francke's and Mack Crane's play was unproduced.

When Lee Tracy asked to be released from the movie because he felt his role was too small in comparison with Jean Harlow's, Norman Krasna was hired to beef up his part.

The Three Stooges ('Fine, Larry' , Curly Howard and 'Howard, Moe' ) were to be in the movie but never appeared.

Notes

In this film, part of the famous "bathing" scene from Red Dust, a 1932 M-G-M picture starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow , is recreated. According to a July 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item, Lee Tracy asked to be released from this picture because he felt his role was too small in comparison to Harlow's. Norman Krasna is credited in a Hollywood Reporter news item for "last minute" writing on Tracy's part. Although Hollywood Reporter announced that the Three Stooges-Jerry and Moe Howard and Larry Fine, were to appear in the film with Ted Healy, the comedians were not spotted in the final film. A July 1933 Film Daily news item announced Nils Asther as a cast member, but his participation in the final film is doubtful. Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts add Willard Mack, an M-G-M director, Martha Sleeper and Etta Moten to the cast. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. In mid-September 1933, a thirty-five person production unit was sent to Tucson, AZ for one-week's worth of location shooting, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. The film was later retitled Blonde Bombshell.