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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, Martin Balsam, and Leslie Nielsen in supporting roles. It was released by Paramount Pictures, shortly after another 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
Produced byJoseph E. Levine
Written byJohn Michael Hayes
Based onHarlow: An Intimate Biography
by Irving Shulman
StarringCarroll Baker
Red Buttons
Raf Vallone
Angela Lansbury
Music byNeal Hefti
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byFrank Bracht
Archie Marshek
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 dealing with her greedy stepfather Marino (Raf Vallone) and oblivious mother "Mama Jean" (Angela Lansbury, only six years older than Carroll Baker). With the help of Arthur Landau (Red Buttons), she rises to fame and gains the unwanted attention of the Howard Hughes-inspired Richard Manley (Leslie Nielsen). She then marries Paul Bern (Peter Lawford), an absentee husband who kills himself some time after the marriage. 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 twenty-six.



The concept of depicting Jean Harlow's on film had originated in the 1950s. Many actresses were reported to play Harlow in different biopics, i. e., Cleo Moore for Columbia and Jayne Mansfield for Fox, but both of these projects fell through. In 1962, it was officially released that Marilyn Monroe would play Harlow in a lavish biopic as a part of her new contract with Fox. However, after Monroe's death, the project was sold to Paramount, who cast Carroll Baker in the title role. Based in part on Harlow: An Intimate Biography, writer Irving Shulman's pulp 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 featured a wide-reaching publicity campaign.

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]

DVD releaseEdit

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