Cinema Rediscovered: A Free Soul

BBFC Ratingf-rated FilmCinema Rediscovered: A Free Soul

Showing: 08 October 2022

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Sat 8 Oct 2022

Certificate12A
Year1931
GenreCrime, Drama, Romance
Director Clarence Brown
WritersAdela Rogers St. Johns, Becky Gardiner
LanguageEnglish
CountryUSA
Running Time1HR 33MINS
SeasonCinema Rediscovered on Tour

Socialite Norma Shearer risks total ruination after a sordid love affair with murderous gangster Clark Gable, in this new 2K restoration of A Free Soul. Part of the Belfast International Arts Festival's 60th anniversary.

The divine Norma Shearer stars as an independent-minded young society woman who has been trained by her defence attorney father (Lionel Barrymore) to live without restraint, and who grows trapped in a love triangle between the monied, kind Leslie Howard and the good-for-nothing rogue played by the delightfully evil Clark Gable. Her father, loving but consistently sozzled, successfully defends the gangster against a murder rap, not realising that his beloved daughter is about to embark on a lusty affair with the reprobate.

Penned by iconoclastic gossip columnist Adela Rogers St. Johns and loosely recalling her own upbringing (her father was a real defence attorney too, even once representing disgraced silent star Fatty Arbuckle), A Free Soul is psychologically complex and earnest in spite of its sensationalist leanings: a genuinely open-minded exploration of what happens to nice girls when they fall for the bad boy. Hard.

This film is part of Pre-Code Hollywood: Rules Are Made to be Broken, a strand of Cinema Rediscovered curated by film writers and critics Pamela Hutchinson and Christina Newland. Pre-Code Hollywood presents some of Hollywood’s most risqué films made before the 1930s Hays code was enforced.

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