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HARLOW: THE BLONDE BOMBSHELL (TV MOVIE) (director: Tom McQuade; screenwriter: Paul Boorstin; cinematographer: Stephen Ramsey; editor: Tom McQuade; music: Scott Roewe; cast: Sharon Stone (Narrator); Runtime: 47; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Patrick Faulstich/Paul Boorstin; TCM; 1993)
“A no-nonsense biopic on the blonde bombshell of the 1930s, Jean Harlow.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tom McQuade (“Barbra Streisand: Putting it Together – The Making of “The Broadway Album“”) directs a no-nonsense biopic on the blonde bombshell of the 1930s, Jean Harlow. She was that generations sex symbol, but the film makes it clear that in real-life Harlow was not the femme fatale she portrayed onscreen. The actress Sharon Stone acts as host. It follows Harlow’s path to stardom from her Kansas City, Missouri home and her untimely death due to a kidney failure at age 26 in 1937. Though born Harlean Carpenter, she took her controlling mother’s name of Jean Harlow as her screen name when the married teen arrived in Hollywood at 16 to be with her re-married wealthy mom and tried out for parts in silents.Mom aspired to be an actress but never succeeded. The daughter landed in several silents, in bit parts, including a Laurel & Hardy1929 film. Howard Hughes conducted a search for an unknown actress in 1930 in the talkie remake of his epic silent Hell’s Angels and discovered Harlow. Though paid a low wage she signed a five-year contract with Hughes. He loaned her out to Columbia and Warner Brothers for Platinum Blonde and Public Enemy. Hughes would in 1932 sell her contract to MGM for $30,000. We follow her in film clips of films such as Beast of the City, Red-headed Woman, Red Dust, Bombshell, Dinner at Eight, Hold Your Man, The Girl from Missouri, China Seas, Reckless, Wife vs. Secretary, Suzy, Libelled Lady, Riff-Raff, Personal Property and, her last film, Saratoga. We learn she married twice more after dumping hubby number one, as she marries MGM producer Paul Bern. After Bern’s suicide, she was married briefly to the cinematographer Harold Rosson. At the time of her death she was dating William Powell.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”