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Film / Bombshell

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Bombshell is a 1933 film directed by Victor Fleming, starring Jean Harlow and Lee Tracy.

Harlow is Lola Burns, a glamorous blonde bombshell Hollywood movie star. Her complicated life involves a temperamental Latin Lover who has overstayed his visa, a crazy fan that won't stop stalking her, a father and brother who are mooching off of her, and studio publicity man E.J. "Space" Hanlon (Tracy), who keeps embarrassing her with the fake scandals he gins up to keep her name in the papers. Space once dated Lola and still carries a torch for her, but he doesn't let that stop the studio publicity machine. When Lola falls in love with aristocrat Gifford Middleton (Franchot Tone) and elects to retire from pictures, Space has to lure her back, both for himself and the studio.


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This film contains the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Lola's father, played by Frank Morgan (The Wizard of Oz), is an idiot and a drunkard.
    Lola: Remember your heart, you're likely to have the DTs again.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Lola has to do retakes for Red Dust, a real film which starred Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.
  • Driving a Desk: In every scene where people are riding in cars.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: After one day at the desert resort, Lola and Gifford Middleton are making wedding plans. It turns out this is all Spence's doing; see Massive Multiplayer Scam below.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Apparently Lola's maid is something of an Ethical Slut.
    Lola: Your day off sure is brutal on your lingerie.
  • Going Commando: Lola is specifically instructed by the studio not to wear a brassiere (and Harlow the sex symbol usually didn't.)
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  • The Hays Code: Referenced in-universe as the reason why Lola has to do retakes of Red Dust. (Actually this film comes from The Pre-Code Era, as Hollywood didn't bear down with the Hays Code until 1934.)
  • High-Class Glass: Clara's father, Clara's boyfriend Hugo, and Gifford's father all use this to fake being sophisticated.
  • Horrible Hollywood: This is how Lola feels after Space's meddling and other Hollywood jackassery embarrasses her and ruins her chance of adopting a baby. But later, she defends Hollywood after the snooty Middletons are horrified to find that she's an actress.
  • Loony Fan: Lola has a crazy stalker who keeps following her around, claiming that she's his wife.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: The Loony Fan and all three Middletons are actors, working along with Space to manipulate Lola into going back to the movies.
  • The Rival: Alice Cole, a more well-adjusted actress at "Monarch Pictures". Space uses the threat that Cole might get a part that was supposed to go to Lola to lure Lola back to Hollywood.
  • Roman à Clef: A satirical portrait of the life of Clara Bow at the height of her stardom—Bow actually did leave the movies to get married and retire to the desert. However, other elements are clearly taken from the life of Harlow herself, like the large dogs at her mansion and the mooching family members.
  • Title Drop: A bandleader at the Coconut Grove says "I see the beautiful Lola Burns, the bombshell herself."
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Lola's boyfriend getting arrested by Immigration makes the front page of the newspaper.
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