|Directed by||Jack Conway|
|Produced by||Bernard H. Hyman|
|Screenplay by||Anita Loos
|Story by||Anita Loos
|Music by||Edward Ward|
|Editing by||Elmo Veron|
|Running time||92 minutes|
|Box office||$2 million|
Saratoga is a 1937 American romantic comedy film written by Anita Loos and directed by Jack Conway. The movie stars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in their sixth and final film collaboration, and features Lionel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Hattie McDaniel, and Margaret Hamilton.
Jean Harlow died before filming was finished, and it was completed using stand-ins. Saratoga was MGM's biggest moneymaker of 1937.
Bookie Duke Bradley (Clark Gable) stops the bank from taking the stud of Grandpa Clayton (Lionel Barrymore). Carol Clayton (Jean Harlow) calls from England that she is going to marry the wealthy Hartley Madison (Walter Pidgeon). Duke tells her father, Frank Clayton (Jonathan Hale), and Grandpa. Broke, Frank gives Duke the deed to the family farm to pay his gambling debts. At the races, Duke takes bets and meets Hartley and Carol. Duke greets Fritzi (Una Merkel) with a kiss. During a race, Frank collapses and dies.
Carol asks Duke to sell her the farm, but Duke assures her he won't foreclose on Grandpa. They quarrel about her marrying for money. Fritzi tells Duke that her husband Jesse Kiffmeyer (Frank Morgan) is allergic to horses. When Jesse sneezes during an auction, Duke sees to it that this is considered a bid, and Jesse ends up buying a horse that Fritzi wanted. Grandpa tells Duke that Carol is selling her horse, Moonray; Carol tells Duke she needs money to pay him off. Duke bids Hartley up to $14,000 but stops before Carol is going to let him win. Hartley asks Grandpa to train Moonray.
Carol studies horses and has won money from Duke. Tip O'Brien (Cliff Edwards) sings "The Horse With the Dreamy Eyes" with Fritzi, Duke, and Rosetta (Hattie McDaniel), Carol's maid. Carol is friendly with Duke until he asks her to get Hartley betting. Duke calls on Hartley and tells him to help Carol's nerves. Hartley calls Dr. Bierd (George Zucco), who says Carol is emotional and should marry soon or not see Hartley. Duke gets Hartley to bet and win $6,000, telling Tip it is bait. Carol tells Hartley not to bet with Duke, who learns Hartley is leaving. Carol asks Hartley to stay.
At the track, Hartley bets with Duke and loses $5,000. On a train, Duke dines with Fritzi and Jesse, who is jealous. Fritzi knows Duke is in love with Carol, and Duke says he plans to win money to marry her. Carol tells Duke she loves him and has broken off her engagement to Hartley. When Duke objects to losing Hartley, she gets angry. At the races, Hartley loses. Hartley hires a new trainer for Moonray. Carol gets Jesse's contract with the jockey Dixie Gordon (Frankie Darro) so Duke will lose; but Fritzi tells Jesse that that if Duke wins, he will marry Carol. Dixie is riding Moonray. Grandpa quarrels with the new trainer. The race is a photo finish, but Moonray loses. On a train, Carol and Duke celebrate.
- Clark Gable as Duke Bradley
- Jean Harlow as Carol Clayton
- Lionel Barrymore as Grandpa Clayton
- Frank Morgan as Jesse Kiffmeyer
- Walter Pidgeon as Hartley Madison
- Una Merkel as Fritzi
- Cliff Edwards as Tip
- George Zucco as Dr. Harmsworth Bierd
- Jonathan Hale as Frank Clayton
- Hattie McDaniel as Rosetta
- Frankie Darro as Dixie Gordon
- Margaret Hamilton as Maizie
Production and reception
Although screenwriter Robert Hopkins originally intended the script to be a vehicle for Harlow, the studio at first attempted to borrow Carole Lombard from Paramount Pictures, but could not do so because of contractual difficulties. After this, it was reported that Joan Crawford would play Harlow's role, but by 1937, Harlow was reported as the star. Walter Pidgeon was borrowed from Universal for the film.
At the time of filming, Harlow was suffering from the aftermath of oral surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth. Paul Bern, her second husband, had mysteriously died several years before, and she had just divorced director Harold Rosson, her third, after one year of marriage. Harlow had a relationship with William Powell, and wanted to marry him, but Powell was resistant.
When filming of Saratoga was 90% completed, Harlow collapsed on the set during a scene with Walter Pidgeon and died about a week later, of kidney failure. Sun poisoning she had suffered from some months before, combined with the problems with her wisdom teeth, contributed to her critical condition. MGM wanted to reshoot the movie with Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur, however, Harlow fans complained, so the remaining scenes were filmed with Mary Dees doubling for the camera and Paula Winslowe supplying Harlow's voice.
The film was released on July 23, 1937, not quite seven weeks after Harlow's death, and the crowds of her fans that turned out to see the film pushed it into being one the year's largest monetary successes. Critical reviews were generally positive, despite the reviewers commenting on the sadness of seeing Harlow so soon after her death.