“A Tribute and a Triumph that the world demanded to see . . . ! !”
Director: Jack Conway
Cast: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore
Synopsis: After winning a stud farm in lieu of gambling debts, bookie Duke Bradley turns an eye to the daughter of the now deceased gambler and her millionaire fiancÃ©e.
Jean Harlow’s final movie boasts a top-notch cast which is unfortunately let down by a mediocre storyline and script. Harlow died while this movie was being filmed, and Mary Dees stood in for a number of scenes so that filming could be completed. Unfortunately, the scenes in which Harlow is missing are fairly obvious, and she disappears almost completely for the last twenty minutes, which severely weakens what is already nothing more than an average flick.
While the movie itself is nothing to write home about, there are some things to enjoy: the racing scenes are excitingly shot for the period, the camera choosing to get close to the action instead of filming from distance as was the norm in those days, Hattie McDaniel makes the most of a larger — yet no less stereotypical — role than usual, dear old Frank Morgan fluffs his lines with gusto and aplomb, a sharp, wisecracking Clark Gable is in his prime, Lionel Barrymore, in the year before arthritis finally consigned him to a wheelchair, gives an entertainingly crusty performance, and a sympathetic role from a young Walter Pidgeon are among some of the highlights.
More famous — and successful — than it deserves to be because of Harlow’s untimely death, Saratoga is worth a look as nothing more than a vintage curiosity.
(Reviewed 2nd May 2002)