6.7/10
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A Free Soul (1931)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 20 June 1931 (USA)
An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.

Director:

Writers:

(from the book by), (dialogue continuity) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Eddie
Lucy Beaumont ...
Grandma Ashe
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 June 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Free Souls  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

" A Free Soul " was the fifth most popular movie at the U.S. box office for 1931. See more »

Goofs

While racing in a convertible roadster with his mistress, Gable is wearing a wide-brimmed fedora, which, if true, would have flown off his head almost immediately upon acceleration. Guys driving roadsters in those days wore tight-fitting caps to prevent this from happening. See more »

Quotes

Stephen Ashe, Defense Attorney: Don't you see, my hands are bleeding where the spikes have been driven threw.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in MGM Parade: Episode #1.2 (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

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

The Big Speech
10 October 2006 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Some movies are theatrical in the sense that all their values and methods are derived from stage values. This is one.

Some movies are in that sweet spot after talkies got going and before the code was enforced, so they have a vitality that is lacking for a few decades afterwards.

This fits those two overlapping pockets and is a fine example of theatrical acting. The story is simple: a woman from a "fine" family spends time with a gangster for exciting sex. She has an unnatural bond with her "mountebank" father, a drunken lawyer both of which characteristics give him an excuse to be broad in his acting style.

The father forbids the affair and dramatic complications arise. Its an excuse for speechifying, which is done fabulously so long as you understand the tradition. Barrymore is perhaps the last great speechifier in this tradition, though Olivier would hang on for much longer and be celebrated out of nostalgia.

There's an interesting fold in this. The audience has a surrogate on screen, in the jury. Courtroom movies have since this grown into a solid tradition. As the case is made to the jury, it is made to us. This is special because was an early edition of that model, say before Mockingbird and Christie. Because of that, the speechifying to us/jury is fresher, more direct, less burdened with mature movieness.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


14 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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