AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Platinum Blonde
Alternate Title: The Gilded Cage
Director: Frank R. Capra (Dir)
Release Date:   31 Oct 1931
Production Date:   3 Aug--28 Aug 1931
Duration (in mins):   82 or 90
Duration (in feet):   8,240
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Loretta Young (Gallagher)  
    Robert Williams (Stew Smith)  
    Jean Harlow (Ann Schuyler)  
    Halliwell Hobbes (Butler [Smythe])  
    Reginald Owen ([Dexter] Grayson)  
    Walter Catlett ([Bingy] Baker)  
    Louise Closser Hale (Mrs. Schuyler)  
    Edmund Breese (Conroy, the editor)  
    Donald Dillaway (Michael Schuyler)  
    Claude Allister (Dawson the valet)  

Summary: Ace reporter Stew Smith is assigned to cover a breach of promise suit being filed by chorus girl Gloria Golden against Michael Schuyler, member of the wealthy, socially prominent Schuyler family. Stew tricks Mrs. Schuyler into admitting Gloria was paid off, although Michael's letters to her have not yet been recovered. Michael's beautiful sister Ann then tries to charm Stew, but he nevertheless uses their telephone to call in the story to Conroy, his editor. That night Stew discusses the case with his best pal, fellow reporter Gallagher, who is secretly in love with Stew even though he treats her like one of the guys. The next day, Stew goes to see Ann, to whom he gives Michael's letters, which he stole from Gloria while he was interviewing her. Ann apologizes for her rudeness, and they begin seeing each other. A month later, Stew and Ann elope, prompting Conroy to rib Stew about being "Mr. Schuyler." The Schuyler family is furious about the marriage, but Ann assures them she will quickly tame Stew. When Stew arrives, the newlyweds discuss where they will live, and Stew reluctantly agrees to move into the mansion upon Ann's insistence. Later, at a party for the Spanish ambassador, Stew is bored with the stuffed shirts until he sees Gallagher, who is filling in for the newspaper's society editor. Stew and Gallagher's reunion is interrupted by rival reporter Bingy Baker, who offers Stew a job writing a column for Bingy's paper, on the condition that he sign it "by Ann Schuyler's husband." Bingy adds insult to injury by calling Stew a "Cinderella Man," and is rewarded with a punch in the nose. The next day, the incident is on the front page of Bingy's newspaper, much to the dismay of Mrs. Schuyler. As time passes, Stew wearies of the party life, and Ann wearies of him. One night, after waiting impatiently for Stew to get ready for the mayor's reception, Ann goes to get him, but leaves without him when Stew tells her he can no longer tolerate her friends. After a few hours, Stew becomes bored and asks Gallagher for help with the play he is writing. She asks her friend Hank to chaperone, and he brings the whole gang to the Schuyler mansion. While the party reaches uproarious levels downstairs, Stew and Gallagher work on the play, which she tells him to write from his own experience. When Ann returns, she orders Stew to throw everyone out of her house immediately, but Stew can take no more and packs his bags to leave with Gallagher. Later, at Stew's apartment, he and Gallagher are working on the play when Dexter Grayson, the Schuylers' lawyer, arrives to offer him a financial settlement for the divorce. Stew wants no part of the Schuyler fortune and punches Grayson, then writes the incident into his play. Gallagher asks about the play's ending, and Stew tells her that his character will not return to his wife but will instead marry the character Gallagher suggested, because he has been in love with her all along without knowing it. 

Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Production Text: A Frank R. Capra Production
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Frank R. Capra (Dir)
  C. C. Coleman (Asst dir)
Producer: Harry Cohn (Prod)
Writer: Harry E. Chandlee (Story)
  Douglas W. Churchill (Story)
  Jo Swerling (Adpt)
  Robert Riskin (Dial)
  Dorothy Howell (Cont)
Photography: Joseph Walker (Photog)
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson (Art dir)
Film Editor: Gene Milford (Film ed)
Sound: Edward Bernds (Sd eng)
Production Misc: Edward Shulter (Tech dir)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Columbia Pictures Corp. 22/10/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP2572 Yes

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric System

 
Genre: Romantic comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Class distinction
  Marriage
  Reporters
  Socialites
  Unrequited love
 
Subjects (Minor): Breach of promise
  Bribery
  Butlers
  Divorce
  Drunkenness
  Editors
  Family relationships
  Lawyers
  Letters
  Mansions
  Parties
  Playboys
  Plays
  Rivalry
  Speakeasies

Note: The film's working titles were Gallagher and The Gilded Cage . According to contemporary news items, it was put into production on short notice, ahead of Forbidden , directed by Frank Capra and starring Barbara Stanwyck, when Stanwyck began a contract dispute with Columbia and production on Forbidden was delayed. Although FD reported that Halliwell Hobbes joined the cast in place of Donald Dillaway, both Hobbes and Dillaway are in the film. Platinum Blonde was the first film on which Capra and Robert Riskin worked together. Robert Williams, who received excellent reviews for his portrayal of "Stew Smith," died on 3 Nov 1931 following operations for appendicitis and peritonitis. This was his last film. According to modern sources, six other writers besides the five given screen credit worked on the script, but their names have not been determined. Modern sources list the following additional cast members: Bill Elliot ( Dinner guest ), Harry Semels ( Waiter ), Olaf Hytten ( Radcliffe ), Tom London, Hal Price, Eddy Chandler, and Charles Jordan ( Reporters ), Dick Cramer ( Speakeasy proprietor ), Wilson Benge ( Butler ). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   14 Sep 31   p. 4.
Film Daily   24 Sep 31   p. 8.
Film Daily   25 Sep 31   p. 8.
Film Daily   1 Nov 31   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Aug 31   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Sep 31   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 31   p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald   3 Oct 31   p. 33.
New York Times   31 Oct 31   p. 22.
Variety   3 Nov 31   p. 27.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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