A Free Soul

USA | 1931 | 93 min | PG

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


From his earliest days working at MGM, the studio with “more stars than there are in heaven,” costume designer Gilbert Adrian had a vision and showcased a new era in costume design for the screen. This pre-Code immorality tale is no exception, with Norma Shearer as a sexually liberated singleton in slinky bias-cut satin sheaths (they predate Adrian’s creation of Jean Harlow’s signature look). About a father-daughter relationship that comes close to ruin over a mobster, with the famous courtroom finale that earned Lionel Barrymore an Academy Award, and Clark Gable in an early role.


Director: Clarence Brown
Cast: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore


Hosted by culture writer and critic Nathalie Atkinson, this ongoing series considers the crucial contributions of below-the-line craft in both popular favorites and forgotten gems (more…)


With a slide show introduction to 1930s silver screen glamour by series host Nathalie Atkinson


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