Lola Burns (Jean Harlow) is a popular movie actress, known to her fans as the "Blonde Bombshell”. Though she seemingly has everything a girl could possibly want, Lola is fed up with her sponging relatives, her "work till you drop" studio, and the nonsensical publicity campaigns conducted by press agent, E. J. ‘Space’ Hanlon. (Lee Tracy).

She tries to escape Hollywood by marrying a titled foreign nobleman, Marquis Hugo di Binelli di Pisa (Ivan Lebedeff) but Tracy has the poor guy arrested as an illegal alien.

Finally Lola finds what she thinks is perfect love in the arms of aristocratic Gifford Middleton (Franchot Tone) but she renounces Gifford when his snooty father, Wendell Middleton (C. Aubrey Smith) looks down his nose at Lola and her profession.

Upon discovering that Gifford and his entire family were actors hired by Space, Lola goes ballistic--that is until she realizes that Space, for all his bluff and chicanery, is the one man who truly loves her.
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Jean Harlow and Lee Tracy are wonderfully matched in this pre-Code screwball comedy, one of the funniest films of the 1930's, and another proof - if one was needed - that Hollywood had an endless appetite for self-ridicule. With her platinum hair (the success of the film led to Jean Harlow being widely known as a "Blonde Bombshell"), Harlow is still essentially playing a parody of her own unhappy private life. Her constant high-decibel groans of complaint as to her celebrity's misuse at the hands of those closest to her have the ring of veracity. And no one gives her greater grief than Tracy, who is determined to wring every last drop of publicity out of her, even if his meddling in her personal life drives her insane.

Like most screwball comedies of the era, the dialogue is spoken at a rapid fire pace that demands attention. The jokes fly fast and furious. Harlow plays the slightly ditzy and overwhelmed blonde to perfection while the supporting cast generates most of the laughs. Frank Morgan as Lola's father is one of the biggest scene-stealers, but Una Merkel, as Lola’s secretary, also manages to swipe a couple herself, despite being in just a few small moments. The entire cast though is absolutely stellar: Franchot Tone adds a touch of class as Gifford; Mary Forbes & Sir C. Aubrey Smith are marvelous as his wealthy parents. Ivan Lebedeff gives some laughs as a penniless marquis who is happy to live off of Harlow's money, while a sturdy Pat O'Brien is excellent as Harlow's director pal; Ted Healy is great as her shiftless brother; and Louise Beavers whose standard role as the maid is expanded here into someone who gets some of the film's best lines: "Don't scald me with your steam, woman—I knows where the bodies are buried!"

This was one of only five films Lee Tracy made for MGM in 1933 and arguably the best role of his career. It was certainly the culmination of nearly all the other roles he'd had over the past couple of years in various studios, where he'd perfected the depiction of shyster lawyers, unscrupulous talent agents, snoopy reporters & disreputable gossip columnists. There is certainly no telling how far he might have gone with MGM, but his career literally went south in 1934 after a few moments of drunken indiscretion. While in Mexico for location shooting for “Viva Villa!”, Tracy stepped out onto his hotel balcony and urinated on a passing military parade. He was immediately arrested and deported from the country. Embarrassed & furious, Louis B. Mayer fired him instantly from MGM. With only the smaller studios willing to hire him, Tracy's film career largely slipped into obscurity. He had a short comeback, of sorts, in 1964, when he was nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar for “The Best Man”. This was to be his cinematic swan song; old and tired, he no longer resembled the hot shot that delighted audiences in the early 1930's. Lee Tracy died in 1968 of cancer, at the age of 70.

Being a pre-code comedy the script gets away with a few racy lines that wouldn't have been permitted just a few years later. "I didn't give you that for a negligee, that's an evening wrap," Lola tells her maid at one point. "I know, Miss Lola, but the negligee you gave me got all tore up night before last," the maid replies. "Your day off is sure brutal on your lingerie," Lola responds back.

Allegedly based on the career of Clara Bow (who, like Lola, had a parasitic family and a duplicitous private secretary), “Bombshell”, originally titled “Blonde Bombshell” to avoid any reference to a war picture, is a prime example of Jean Harlow at her comic best. Not only is this a terrifically funny movie, it's also an interesting view of the movie business in 1933. It shows the power of the studio and the publicists. It also shows that maybe things haven't changed all that much. Stars are still stars and the press is still selling any kind of story they can get their hands on. Lola even has her own stalker, some 60 years before the phrase was even coined.

Screwball comedies are a dead art form. Hollywood is unable or unwilling to even try to make one these days and it's a real shame. If you're a fan of the genre you really owe it to yourself to watch this movie. It's one of the finest examples of the kind that I've ever seen.