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PRE-CODE: A FREE SOUL

Clarence Brown

The divine Norma Shearer stars as independent-minded young society woman Jan Ashe who has been trained by her defence attorney father Stephen (Lionel Barrymore) to live without restraint, and who grows trapped in a love triangle between the monied, kind Dwight Winthrop (Leslie Howard) and the good-for-nothing rogue Ace Wilfong, played by the delightfully evil Clark Gable. Her father, loving but consistently sozzled, successfully defends the gangster against a murder rap, not realising that his beloved daughter is about to embark on a lusty affair with the reprobate. A Free Soul is psychologically complex and earnest in spite of its sensationalist leanings: a genuinely open-minded exploration of what happens to nice girls when they fall for the bad boy. Hard.

Notes by Christina Newland

Screening as part of our Pre-Code Hollywood: Rules Are Made To Be Broken season, August 1st to 8th.

94 mins, USA, 1931, Digital, Black & White

Screenings

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