Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Hurriedly assembled to capitalize on the Paramount feature of the same name, Magna Pictures' Harlow was shot in less than two weeks, utilizing a glorified TV-kinescope process called Electronovision. Carol Lynley is physically an excellent choice to play 1930s Hollywood "platinum blonde" Jean Harlow, though she has little of Harlow's casual charisma. Pushed into a movie career by Mama Jean (Ginger Rogers) in order to support her dysfunctional family, Jean rises from 2-reel comedies to big-budget features in the space of a year. Though one of the highest-priced stars at MGM, Jean's fortune is rapidly depleted by her high-living (and, it is hinted, incestuous) stepfather Marino Bello (Barry Sullivan). Seeking happiness and security, Jean marries producer Paul Bern (Hurd Hatfield), only to have him commit suicide due to his impotence. Just when her misery is about to be ended by her marriage to movie star William Mansfield (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.)--a thinly disguised William Powell, who refused to allow his name or likeness to be used--Jean dies of uremia at the age of 26. If you can get past those miserable Laurel & Hardy imitators at the beginning of Harlow, you might be able to survive the rest of the picture, which gives a whole new meaning to the word "cheap." Watch for boxing champ Sonny Liston in a one-scene bit.