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HARLOW (BLU-RAY)

             

For Hicksflicks.com, July 26, 2013

It's been on DVD for a while, but now "Harlow" gets a Blu-ray upgrade, reminding us all how great an actress Jean Harlow was and how mediocre Carroll Baker is pretending to be Jean Harlow.

This 1965 big-budget studio film came hot on the heels of Baker's success with "The Carpetbaggers" — the fourth biggest movie of 1964 (after "Mary Poppins," "My Fair Lady" and "Goldfinger") — in which she played a fictional character based on Jean Harlow. So she had more or less already auditioned for the role.

"Harlow" tells the story of the platinum blonde star of the 1930s. a terrific comedienne and actress who died tragically at the age of 26. It's one of those dark-side-of-Hollywood movies, all gloss and sheen with allusions to sexuality but constrained by early '60s mores (that's not a complaint) and with little, if any, substance.

The film co-stars Angela Lansbury as Jean Harlow's mother (though Lansbury is only five years older than Baker), along with Peter Lawford, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Balsam, Mike Connors and Red Buttons.

If you're ever in the mood for a trashy movie night with Hollywood-themed pictures that are so bad they're good, "Harlow" and "The Carpetbaggers" make for a great double bill. A great bad one, that is.