Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Mammoth Musical Melodrama!
Jean Harlow was perhaps the original star who left us too soon. However all that she touched wasn’t gold. Such is the case with her 1935 effort Reckless.
On the surface, Reckless had to be a winner, right? Based on a leading suicide story of the day and produced by boy wonder David O. Selznick, how could it fail? Throw in veteran director Victor Fleming and a stellar cast, including Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, and William Powell and a drunken fool could have made millions, or at least they could on paper.
Reckless recently came out from the Warner Archives, who kindly sent us a review copy. The film- touting itself as a “remastered” edition, does in fact look very good for the era. However, its still simply not a good film and even WB’s stellar efforts can’t reverse the errors of seventy-odd years ago.
The film wanders from melodrama to musical and back and it becomes clear that the musical numbers were in fact filmed later than the balance of the picture in an effort on MGM’s part to “convert” it to a musical. The musical numbers are tepid at best and Harlow’s dancing is probably a double, and her singing voice is assuredly dubbed.
Even with the great cast and star director the performances are mostly pedestrian, with the sole exception of Franchot Tone, who is solid as a young playboy millionaire. A nice sideline to the picture is the wealth of cameos here from future stars like Rosalind Russell and Mickey Rooney.
Overall, Reckless is a film that really can’t make up its mind what it wants to be and the end result is disjointed and a bit mediocre. Varying from light comedy to musical to melodrama is challenging for any film and Reckless sadly can’t pull it off.
As I mentioned above, Reckless looks and sounds quite good considering it is a “lesser” film from 1935 – remember that is the year of Captain Blood, but the on screen content is lacking. Get it from The WB Shop or Amazon.com.