Harlow (Paramount film)

Harlow is a 1965 American biographical film directed by Gordon Douglas about the life of film star Jean Harlow. It stars Carroll Baker in the title role and Raf Vallone, Red Buttons, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Mike Connors, Martin Balsam and Leslie Nielsen in supporting roles. It was released by Paramount Pictures shortly after Magna had released a different film with the same title and subject. Although the film failed commercially, it was successful in launching the hit song "Girl Talk" by Neal Hefti.

Original theatrical poster
Directed byGordon Douglas
Written byJohn Michael Hayes
Based onHarlow: An Intimate Biography
by Irving Shulman
Produced byJoseph E. Levine
StarringCarroll Baker
Red Buttons
Raf Vallone
Angela Lansbury
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byFrank Bracht
Archie Marshek
Music byNeal Hefti
Embassy Pictures
Promethemus Enterprises Inc.
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 23, 1965 (1965-06-23) (United States)
Running time
125 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$3,400,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]$1 million


The film opens with Harlow as a struggling extra and bit actress supporting a greedy stepfather Marino and a loving but oblivious mother "Mama Jean". With the help of agent Arthur Landau, she secures a contract at the studio of the Howard Hughes-inspired Richard Manley. The reception to her first film is disappointing, and at Manley's studio her career is stalled. When Manley attempts to add her to his list of seduced starlets, Harlow fights him off and tells him what she thinks of him. This scene turns out to be a ruse devised by her agent so that the now-furious Manley terminates her contract. Landau successfully pitches Harlow to Majestic Studios, and her career blossoms. Despite studio encouragement to marry another contract star, Harlow marries the apparently gentle and cultured Paul Bern, who is revealed to be impotent. Soon after, Bern commits suicide. His death, combined with the stress of her career, leads Harlow on an odyssey of failed relationships and alcoholism, culminating in her death of kidney failure at the age of 26.



The concept of depicting Jean Harlow on film had originated in the 1950s. Many actresses were reported to have been cast as Harlow in different biopics, such as Cleo Moore for Columbia and Jayne Mansfield for Fox, but both of these projects fell through. In 1962, Fox announced that Marilyn Monroe would play Harlow in a lavish biopic under her new contract. However, after Monroe's death, the project was sold to Paramount, which cast Carroll Baker in the title role. Based in part on Irving Shulman's pulp biography Harlow: An Intimate Biography, Paramount's Harlow is a melodramatic look at Harlow's life, focusing on her failed marriages. The widescreen Technicolor film, produced by Joseph E. Levine, was made on a $2.5 million budget, and was supported by a wide-reaching publicity campaign.

Director Gordon Douglas later said that during filming Baker "was very sick, physically and also mentally, I think. She was going through bad times. But she did a hell of a good job on the picture."[2]

Home mediaEdit

On September 28, 2010, Olive Films released Harlow on Region 1 DVD in the United States.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
  2. ^ Davis, Ronald L. (2005). Just making movies. University Press of Mississippi. p. 199.

External linksEdit