Reckless (1935)

95-96, 99-100 or 105 mins | Drama | 19 April 1935

Director:

Victor Fleming

Producer:

David O. Selznick

Cinematographer:

George Folsey

Editor:

Margaret Booth

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Working titles for this film were Hard to Handle and Born Reckless . David O. Selznick wrote the original story on which this film was based under the pseudonym Oliver Jeffries. Contemporary sources indicate that the film was inspired by the life of torch singer Libby Holman and the highly publicized mystery surrounding the death of her husband, tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds II. Although Reynolds' death was labeled a suicide, a scandal resulted when Holman was accused of his murder. Other films that used the Holman incident as the basis, or inspiration, for their plots are the 1932 Columbia film Brief Moment (see above), the 1933 Majestic film Sing Sinner Sing (see below) and the 1957 Universal production Written on the Wind (see below). Some contemporary sources allege that the story was also based in part on the suicide of Jean Harlow's second husband, producer Paul Bern, which occurred around the time of Reynolds' death. According to a biography of William Powell, Harlow, whom Louis B. Mayer chose to replace Joan Crawford as the female lead one week before production began, stongly objected to being cast in this film. Harlow believed that the decision to cast her was a deliberate attempt to capitalize on the sensational publicity surrounding her husband's death. Powell claimed that he dissuaded Harlow from refusing her assignment by arguing that if she were to do so, it would result in her suspension and only open her up to further negative publicity.
       Although a HR pre-production news item announced that German music composers Bronislau Kaper and Walter Jurmann ... More Less

Working titles for this film were Hard to Handle and Born Reckless . David O. Selznick wrote the original story on which this film was based under the pseudonym Oliver Jeffries. Contemporary sources indicate that the film was inspired by the life of torch singer Libby Holman and the highly publicized mystery surrounding the death of her husband, tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds II. Although Reynolds' death was labeled a suicide, a scandal resulted when Holman was accused of his murder. Other films that used the Holman incident as the basis, or inspiration, for their plots are the 1932 Columbia film Brief Moment (see above), the 1933 Majestic film Sing Sinner Sing (see below) and the 1957 Universal production Written on the Wind (see below). Some contemporary sources allege that the story was also based in part on the suicide of Jean Harlow's second husband, producer Paul Bern, which occurred around the time of Reynolds' death. According to a biography of William Powell, Harlow, whom Louis B. Mayer chose to replace Joan Crawford as the female lead one week before production began, stongly objected to being cast in this film. Harlow believed that the decision to cast her was a deliberate attempt to capitalize on the sensational publicity surrounding her husband's death. Powell claimed that he dissuaded Harlow from refusing her assignment by arguing that if she were to do so, it would result in her suspension and only open her up to further negative publicity.
       Although a HR pre-production news item announced that German music composers Bronislau Kaper and Walter Jurmann were set to collaborate with Gus Kahn on songs for this film, their participation in the film has not been confirmed. Similarly, an early HR production chart credits Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn as songwriters, but Donaldson's participation in the released film also has not been confirmed. Although Man-Mountain Dean played himself in the film, a HR pre-production news item indicated that comedian Jack Lipson was set to impersonate the wrestler. HR production charts list Henry Wadsworth, Lee Kohlmar, Mary Jo Matthews, Barbara Worth and Lloyd Whitlock in the cast, and HR pre-release news items list Ernie Haynes ( Wrestler ), Stuart Casey ( Gaylord ), Rosina Lawrence, Albert Taylor, John Davidson, Davison Clark, Jack Kennedy, Gordon Elliott , Theresa Maxwell Conover and Richard Carle in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. HR pre-release news items also note the following: Norman Krasna was borrowed from Paramount and was given a gag writing assignment on the film; "Ramon and Dolores" were signed for a specialty dance; and wrestler Hans Steinke, who walked off the set when director Fleming instructed Man-Mountain Dean to sit on him, was replaced by wrestler Ernie Haynes. A Jan 1935 DV news item notes that after the picture was completed, M-G-M decided to change Reckless from a straight drama to a musical, which resulted in the resumption of production. A contemporary NYT news item claims that Jean Harlow "neither danced nor sang in the film" and that "professionals were used as doubles," and information in the M-G-M Music Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library indicates that Virginia Verrill dubbed several songs for Harlow. However, a modern source claims that Harlow danced and sang all her numbers, and that only the high notes in her songs were dubbed because she had difficulty reaching them. According to the Var review, two songs that were billed in the credits of the preview version ("Hi Diddle Dee Dum," by Con Conrad and Herbert Magidson , and "I'm Going Down to Dance at Clancy's") were not included in the released film. Harlow and William Powell announced their engagement around the time of this picture's production. According to modern sources, writers Donald Ogden Stewart, Ted Shane and Norman Krasna were hired to rewrite P. J. Wolfson's script. Reckless marked Selznick's second and last musical production, which, according his biography, was a genre that he despised. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jan 35
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Feb 35
p. 6.
Film Daily
17 Apr 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 34
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 34
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 35
p. 8, 10
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 35
p. 3, 4
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 35
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 35
p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Apr 35
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
29 Dec 34
p. 53.
Motion Picture Herald
13 Apr 35
p. 48.
MPSI
1 Apr 35
p. 34.
New York Times
20 Apr 35
p. 16.
New York Times
11-Aug-35
---
Variety
24 Apr 35
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Orchestra cond by
Synchronized by
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dances staged by
Dances staged by
STAND INS
Singing voice double for Jean Harlow
SOURCES
SONGS
"Ev'rything's Been Done Before," music by Jack King, lyrics by Edwin Knopf and Harold Adamson
"Hear What My Heart Is Saying," music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Harold Adamson
"Reckless," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Born Reckless
Hard to Handle
Release Date:
19 April 1935
Production Date:
27 November 1934--mid February 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 April 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5491
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95-96, 99-100 or 105
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
736
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

When Broadway showgirl Mona Leslie is hauled off to jail for reckless driving, Granny, her grandmother, goes to sports promoter Ned Riley for help. Granny trusts Ned and knows that he is in love with her granddaughter. Ned springs Mona from the House of Detention for Women just in time for her benefit performance for an organization known only as the S.A.M.L. Mona takes the stage only to discover there is only one man in the audience, her admirer, Bob Harrison, who admits that he is the president and sole member of the S.A.M.L., which stands for the Society for the Admiration of Mona Leslie. Bob, an heir to an immense oil fortune, is soon joined by Ned, with whom he is engaged in a friendly romantic rivalry, and the two men watch with pleasure as Mona performs her song and dance routine. Following the performance, Ned allows Bob to take Mona on a date, but only because he knows that she will be taken back to the House of Detention when she steps outside. Mona is soon released, and while their romance makes headlines, the two spend an afternoon at an amusement park, where Bob kisses Mona. Later, Granny reminds Ned that it was he who helped Mona start her professional career and urges him to pursue his interests in her, believing that she will leave Bob if he asks her. Soon after, however, Ned reads in the newspapers that Mona has eloped with Bob and becomes depressed. While Bob and Mona are on their way to meet his parents, Mona reads in the newspaper that Bob jilted his childhood sweetheart, Jo ... +


When Broadway showgirl Mona Leslie is hauled off to jail for reckless driving, Granny, her grandmother, goes to sports promoter Ned Riley for help. Granny trusts Ned and knows that he is in love with her granddaughter. Ned springs Mona from the House of Detention for Women just in time for her benefit performance for an organization known only as the S.A.M.L. Mona takes the stage only to discover there is only one man in the audience, her admirer, Bob Harrison, who admits that he is the president and sole member of the S.A.M.L., which stands for the Society for the Admiration of Mona Leslie. Bob, an heir to an immense oil fortune, is soon joined by Ned, with whom he is engaged in a friendly romantic rivalry, and the two men watch with pleasure as Mona performs her song and dance routine. Following the performance, Ned allows Bob to take Mona on a date, but only because he knows that she will be taken back to the House of Detention when she steps outside. Mona is soon released, and while their romance makes headlines, the two spend an afternoon at an amusement park, where Bob kisses Mona. Later, Granny reminds Ned that it was he who helped Mona start her professional career and urges him to pursue his interests in her, believing that she will leave Bob if he asks her. Soon after, however, Ned reads in the newspapers that Mona has eloped with Bob and becomes depressed. While Bob and Mona are on their way to meet his parents, Mona reads in the newspaper that Bob jilted his childhood sweetheart, Jo Mercer, to marry her. Upon their arrival, Bob's father, Colonel H. Harrison, makes an obvious show of his displeasure at his son's decision to marry a "Broadway bride." To everyone's surprise, Jo is remarkably demure about Bob's marriage, so much so that she forgets Bob and marries Ralph Watson. At Jo's wedding, Bob, who is still in love with Jo, becomes melancholy and, after drinking, picks a fight with Ned. Ned and Mona leave, but Bob follows them to Ned's room, where he bursts in, quarrels with them and then commits suicide. Both Mona and Ned are accused of murdering Bob, but a trial proves their innocence. After Mona gives birth to Bob's son, who will be the future heir to the Harrison fortunes, the newspapers report on the bitter custody battle being waged by Mona and Harrison. With her reputation sullied, Mona makes an attempt to escape further controversy by leaving with her son and promising Harrison that she will not lay any claim to his money. Unfortunately, Mona's troubles continue when she attempts to make a stage comeback and is heckled by an audience that believes the lies that have been printed about her. Forced to stop in the middle of a song, Mona makes a desperate appeal to the audience and asks them to allow her to finish her song, which she believes is her last. Moved by her speech and her song, the crowd applauds Mona, and Ned proposes marriage. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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