Remembering Jean Harlow and Saratoga (1937)


Saratoga (1937) is most notable for being Jean Harlow’s last film: she died of kidney failure during filming and a stand-in was used for her remaining scenes. The film was released on July 23rd, 1937, only a little over six weeks after her death. In Saratoga, Harlow (who really should be remembered as much for her impeccable comic timing as for being a sex goddess) stars alongside a “who’s who” of 1930’s Hollywood talent including Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, Lionel Barrymore and Una Merkel. For the most part, the film is a delightful romantic comedy buoyed by the chemistry of its cast. A dark cloud hovers over the film’s final 15 or 20 minutes though when Harlow suddenly disappears and a skinny imposter, face hidden and voice dubbed, takes her place, like the Grim Reaper in a sun bonnet. The most lively, vivacious woman in Hollywood vanishes right before our eyes.

Heather Babcock, 2019

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