The Secret Six

Jean Harlow stars in “The Secret Six” from 1931, her first credited feature role.  This violent gangster film features Wallace Beery, Clark Gable and Lewis Stone.  Although Beery was a major star playing tough guys for 4 decades in Hollywood films, I never understood his appeal.  His classless oaf character certainly found a chord with the movie-going audience.

There’s no secret about Harlow’s appeal.  She fills the screen with luminance, and despite the stilted dialogue of this film, she summons deep emotions during a pivotal courtroom scene.  Gable and Harlow enter the film halfway through, and provide some comic relief amidst the standard bootleggers versus cops story.  The title refers to a secret government organization dedicated to fighting the bootleggers.  Harlow, although a gun moll, remains innocent throughout.

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