A Free Soul [Import]
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Directed by Clarence Brown
Stephen Ashe Lionel Barrymore), an upper class alcoholic defense attorney, successfully defends local mobster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) in a murder case. After his daughter Jan Ashe (Norma Shearer) breaks her engagement to polo player Dwight Winthrop (Leslie Howard) and starts an affair with Wilfong, she finds that the liaison 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?
Based on a book by Adela Rogers St. Johns, Norma Shearer gets top billing in this aged but enjoyable soap opera, and she is very good, turning on the histrionics most effectively. But it is Lionel Barrymore who gets full honors - and a Best Actor Oscar - for his portrayal of her brilliant, tragic, lawyer father. Masterfully, he dominates his every scene. His final appearance, a tempestuous summation to a murder trial jury, is considered a classic.
Oscar Winner for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Lionel Barrymore)
Oscar Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Norma Shearer), Best Director (Clarence Brown)
* Special Footnote: -- According to the Guinness Book of World Records (2002), the film holds the record for the longest take in a commercial film, the climactic courtroom scene at 14 minutes. Since a reel of camera film only lasts 10 minutes, it was achieved by using more than one camera.Read more ›
Based on the writings of Adela Rogers St. John, she apparently based the character of renegade and alcoholic Stephen Ashe on her own father, a brilliant but undisciplined lawyer of great merit. "A Free Soul",begins with Stephen defending crooked gangster and conman Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable in his mesmorizing breakthrough performance). Succeeding in getting him off his charges Ace and Jan find they have an instant attraction for each other despite their very different stations in life.Read more ›
Lionel Barrymore won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Ashe and deserved it. He is a fine, underrated actor and his performance in "A Free Soul" deserves to be seen by audiences of today. Norma Shearer is also memorable as Jan, and fans of Gable will enjoy him as the rotten gangster, Ace Wilfong. This movie comes highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
"A Free Soul" on paper seemed like a knock-out. I simply can't believe the movie doesn't reach the intensity and emotion that could have been. Read morePublished on July 10 2004 by Alex Udvary
The cast alone makes this a great film to own - with Lionel Barrymore before he had to succumb to a wheelchair, Clark Gable, Norma Shearer and a small part by up-and-coming Leslie... Read morePublished on March 6 2004 by Pepper
If you enjoy movies from the early 30s then this film should definitely be a hit for you. Norma Shearer is in great slinky form as a rebellious socialite taking a walk on the wild... Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2002 by Mitch
For that reason alone, "A Free Soul" is worth a gander, but I think you'll find it interesting enough even without that distinction. Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2001 by Linda McDonnell
Lionel Barrymore shines in his interpretation of Stephen Ashe, a brilliant but alcoholic lawyer who succeeds in defending dashing gangster Ace Wilfong (30 year-old Gable) on a... Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2000