A Free Soul (1931)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  20 June 1931 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,481 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 19 critic

An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.



(from the book by), (dialogue continuity), 5 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Ace Wilfong
Lucy Beaumont ...
Grandma Ashe


Stephen Ashe, an upper class alcoholic defense attourney, successfully defends local mobster Ace Wilfong in a murder case. After his daughter Jan Ashe breaks her engagement to polo player Dwight Winthrop and starts an affair with Wilfong, she finds that the liason is not easily severed when she wants out. Winthrop earns Miss Ashe's true affections by killing Wilfong to break his grip on her. Now the question is, can Stephen Ashe save Winthrop with an impassioned defense speech to the jury? Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Free Woman With A Free Soul See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 June 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Free Souls  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the final version of the movie went before Hollywood censors, they demanded that MGM cut the scene where Norma Shearer lays on the bed and suggestively asks Clark Gable to put his arms around her. The studio ignored the demand and released the film uncut. See more »


At 21:19, we see that gangsters are approaching, but with the car backs into the alley, too much time goes by before the gangsters actually pass by. See more »


Jan Ashe: Oh, I love you. I love you as much as I despise myself.
See more »


By the River Sainte Marie
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played as background music during the restaurant scene
See more »

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User Reviews

Nice Cast Elevates This Shearer Soaper
10 February 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Norma Shearer slinks and giggles her way through another melodrama, this one noted for not only her but the presence of Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable and Leslie Howard.

Not a bad cast, eh?

The story has a lot to it, too - too much to go into here. It's basically a father-daughter story with the daughter having a good guy and a bad guy both after her, and her taking in all the attention she can get. I've only seen two Norma Shearer films but she played a similar character in both. She's likes to giggle, show off her body and flirt but doesn't want commitments. (The Divorcée was the other film in which I saw her.) For much of this film, this is a gender-reversal with the woman being the "heel."

Barrymore plays her dad, an alcoholic defense attorney. If, for nothing else in this movie, he's remembered for his impassioned speech at the end of the trial. It WILL get your attention! Clark Gable plays the toughie and Howard plays the suave nice-guy both vying for Shearer's love.

There is truth to a number of things in this film such as "Jan Ashe" (Shearer) finding the not-so-nice guy more "exciting" over a genuine gentleman. Why many women are like that - preferring the grubby-looking thug - who knows, but Shearer is good at playing that role. Shearer's Harlow-like attire and no-bra look got my (and Gable's) attention, too.

The movie should be enjoyed by most who like this kind of a melodrama and/or appreciate good acting and a bit of star-gazing.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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