A Free Soul

She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss!

Drama Romance
93 min     6.2     1931     USA


An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.


CinemaSerf wrote:
Lionel Barrymore is on quite good form here as the drunken, but accomplished, lawyer "Ashe" who manages to get the young "Ace" (Clark Gable) off on a charge of murder (it's all to do with an hat!). Celebrating their success, the young hoodlum is introduced to the young and feisty "Jan" (Norma Shearer) and a romance soon blossoms. This disturbs the old man, so she comes up with a pact - he (her father) comes off the booze and she will stop seeing the man she has fallen in love with. To the hills they head for three months where both manage to keep to their word, but sadly his strength of character doesn't survive his first visit to a town, and so she rushes back into the rather aggressive arms of her beau who demands marriage. "Ace" isn't the only man interested in the future of the lady, though. Long time family friend "Winthrop" (Leslie Howard) is also her suitor, and when he sees how troubled she is, he takes matters into his own hands and in the end, it might just be that dipso-dad is the only thing standing between him and the chair. Gable certainly had a star quality, but as an actor I always found him rather wooden - here, this early outing illustrates his rather dry technique quite well. Howard features sparingly, and again there is little natural to his rather theatrical and over-done performance . Luckily, though, I found Shearer and Barrymore to have a charming chemistry - even if they do call each other "darling" just one too often, and the story has a rather "back were we started" conclusion that is probably for the best. Pre-code, and that is pretty noticeable in the garments Miss Shearer almost wears. Whilst nothing at all shocking by later standards, some of her gowns cling in all the right places in a fashion that would not have been permitted even five years later... It's fun, this film. It moves along nicely and I rather enjoyed watching it.