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.