‘Conspicuous absence’ and ‘morbid curiosity’: The promotion and reception of Saratoga (USA 1937)

Bode, Lisa (2010) ‘Conspicuous absence’ and ‘morbid curiosity’: The promotion and reception of Saratoga (USA 1937). Screening the Past, 28: 1-11.

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Author Bode, Lisa
Title ‘Conspicuous absence’ and ‘morbid curiosity’: The promotion and reception of Saratoga (USA 1937)
Formatted title
‘Conspicuous absence’ and ‘morbid curiosity’: The promotion and reception of Saratoga (USA 1937)
Journal name Screening the Past
ISSN 1328-9756
Publication date 2010-09-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
Issue 28
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Place of publication Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Publisher La Trobe University
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The death of Jean Harlow during the filming of Saratoga (USA 1937) created problems for the film’s completion and promotion. Famously, M-G-M completed Harlow’s remaining scenes using shots of a body double, filmed with her face obscured. Despite its resulting aesthetic problems, Saratoga is on record as one of Harlow’s highest grossing films (Glancy 1991), and its success has been seen simply the result of a grieving mass audience desperate to say farewell to their idol (Addison 2005; Stenn 1991). However this explanation obscures the strategies used by the studio to manage the film’s reception, and, more broadly, the variety of viewing modes available to North American audiences in the classical Hollywood period. This paper presents my archive research into 1930s promotion and reception materials surrounding Saratoga. I examine the ways in which the threat posed to the film’s coherence and illusionism by Harlow’s on-screen substitution was dealt with in publicity, as well as the strong discouragement of morbid viewing modes that might taint the film’s light comedy and bring the M-G-M brand into disrepute. I also look at the different ways the film was framed in reviews, advertising and press commentary.
Keyword Films
Multimedia
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Communication and Arts Publications
 
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Created: Mon, 21 Feb 2011, 13:02:43 EST by Dr Lisa Bode on behalf of School of Communication and Arts