Earlier this month I started work on my research thesis, which will be a star study of Jean Harlow. If you're a regular follower of my blog, you probably know that Jean is one of my absolute favorite stars so, really, I couldn't be more excited about my dissertation! I will be tracking the transformation of Harlow's star image and how it was reflected in her films and media coverage. One element of my research consists of watching all of Harlow's major films - a total of 22 titles (Goldie is the only one that I haven't been able to get hold of).
I wanted to share this little video that I put together of Harlow's early roles, predating her contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Apart from Hell's Angels (1930, she was under contract to Howard Hughes' Caddo Company at the time), Jean was largely on loan-out to various studios for these early roles. The studios didn't have time to develop her technique and Jean had not quite found her forte yet - comedy - so the contemporary critics largely disliked these performances. But, if you ask me, Jean's star quality and magnetism is obvious even in these early works. I think that you can already see her talent grow; she's specially good in The Beast of the City (1932). MGM, for which Jean was on loan-out for the film, was so impressed with her work that they bought her contract from Hughes. Jean's next film, the starring role in MGM's Red-Headed Woman (1932), marked a real turning point in her career.