ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Review - A Free Soul (1931 - United States)

Updated on April 25, 2012

A movie worthy of your attention even if it is flawed. Please, watch it and form your own opinion.

A Free Soul contains a great deal more than the "can a bad girl still be marriageable?" plot line. Watch how the movie starts: successful attorney Lionel Barrymore is breakfasting while a woman gets dressed off camera. She commands him to hand her clothes and when he jokingly complains she asks if he's "already bored with her", after "only one night". And then it gets complicated: We realize she isn't a lover, but his visiting daughter (Norma Shearer), and her love for him is the block preventing her from bonding with Leslie Howard (bringing his characteristic likeability a role that might in other hands have been doomed by the moniker of "Famous Polo Player"). It is also the impetus that drives her into the arms of the smooth gangster (Clark Gable, so young and beautiful and sexy that it's scary), who Daddy is defending against murder charges.

A Free Soul is based on a startlingy modern concept (remember, it was made in 1931)

Dear old dad, it turns out, is a raving drunk, and the movie's astonishingly modern opinion is that the daughter's desire for bad boys is hopelessly linked to her father's desire for booze. Once again, we see here an interesting concept being explored openly in film that would be put on hold for decades while the Hayes code had Hollywood in its iron grasp.

Norma Shearer in 1931 - and remember this is pre-plastic surgery and pre-Photoshop!

It's worth watching just to see how incredibly hot Clark Gable was at such a young age

Recommended, especially for those interested in pre-code Hollywood. It isn’t as good a film as The Divorcee or Queen Christina , but certainly worth watching.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

What I know about pre-code Hollywood:

See results

Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics

Rated: Unrated

Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.

In Theaters: Jun 20, 1931

On DVD: Feb 20, 1991

Directed By: Clarence Brown

Writing credits:

Adela Rogers St. Johns (book), John Meehan (dialogue continuity), Becky Gardiner (adaptation), Willard Mack play (uncredited)


Norma Shearer - Jan Ashe

Leslie Howard - Dwight Winthrop

Lionel Barrymore - Stephen Ashe

Clark Gable - Ace Wilfong

James Gleason - Eddie

Lucy Beaumont - Grandma Ashe


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      This is interesting. I like looking at pre-code Hollywood movies so I might try it if I see the DVD around. There was that festival for them before in New York City.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)