User Reviews (30)

Add a Review

  • The second film that had Clark Gable and Joan Crawford together didn't start out that way. Laughing Sinners started out with Johnny Mack Brown as the Salvation Army Worker who saves Crawford and the film was completed when Louis B. Mayer saw the film and said reshoot it with Gable. This was after having seen them together in Dance Fools Dance where Gable was a villain and had only a couple of scenes with Crawford. This is according to Joan herself in a tribute she wrote in the Citadel Film Series Book, The Films of Clark Gable.

    Crawford is definitely in her element as singer/dancer and good time Prohibition party girl who falls for the charms of Neil Hamilton, a traveling salesman. You know what a bunch of party animals they are, just ask Arthur Miller. Anyway Hamilton decides though he thinks Joan's great in the hay, he wants to marry the boss's daughter and does, leaving her flat and despondent.

    One night as she's ready to throw herself off a bridge, Salvation Army worker Clark Gable stops her. She likes him, but still has a yen for Hamilton and he, her.

    Given Clark Gable's later image the casting of him as a Salvation Army worker is ludicrous. Mayer knew that and during the course of the film he gives him a nice prison background before he joined Edwin Booth's Army. The only way Gable could possibly fit the part. Anyway Mayer did it for the obvious chemistry between Gable and Crawford.

    It's more Joan's picture than his though. Later on her talents as a dancer which brought her to film in the first place would be not seen at all. So Laughing Sinners is a treat in that way.

    The film is based on a Broadway play Torch Song which ran for 87 performances the year before and starred Mayo Methot, Reed Brown, and Russell Hicks in the parts that Crawford, Hamilton, and Gable have. Coming over from the Broadway cast is Guy Kibbee in the role of another salesman, the only one to repeat his role from Broadway. Roscoe Karns and Cliff Edwards play another pair of salesmen and Marjorie Rambeau is Crawford's party girl friend.

    Russell Hicks is definitely more my idea of a Salvation Army worker, but Gable's more my idea of a leading man opposite Joan Crawford.
  • Joan Crawford is a café dancer whose long term, long distance affair with traveling salesman Neil Hamilton comes crashing to a finish when he dumps her by leaving her a goodbye note written on the back of a menu. Despondent, she sets out to jump into the river, only to be stopped and saved (in more than one sense) by mustache-less Salvation Army officer Clark Gable. Next thing you know, Joan is sporting an Army uniform herself and singing hymns….but sooner or later, Hamilton is bound to show up again. And what then?

    The plot isn't much, but Crawford's performance is excellent as her character veers wildly from joyous flapper to reformed sinner. The scene where she reads Hamilton's note is stunningly sad. Gable never looks quite natural but does seem to contain a reservoir of strength and energy that lurks just beneath the surface of his peaceful character. –At least that's my view from this time and place; hard to imagine what effect his performance would have had on a 1931 audience just becoming familiar with that face, that screen presence.

    The highlight of the film is almost certainly Joan's dance in an opening scene—donning a fake nose and beard and a farmer outfit, she humorously bounces around for a couple of minutes before shedding the costume and really cutting loose, to her audience's delight and her own obvious joy. It has to be said that Joan as flapper is quite a bit more exciting than Joan as saved woman.

    Hamilton is superb in a thoroughly despicable role. Roscoe Karns and Guy Kibbee are fellow salesman and together they certainly portray the kind of sleazy crew who inspire good people to lock up their daughters.

    Overall—no surprises but Crawford is certainly worth watching, especially the opening and closing minutes.
  • One of those movies about fallen women who reform that were common in pre-Code Hollywood, LAUGHING SINNERS, also known as COMPLETE SURRENDER, comes less as a movie of quality as standard fare that features the two leads, Crawford and Gable -- she already a star, he a rising actor -- coming together and making early music to the viewer's eyes. Before Hepburn and Tracy, these were the ones the public wanted to see together even if the movie in itself was less than memorable, and MGM gave it to them 8 times.

    Also a feature where one can get to see Crawford dance, sing, and indirectly, essay what would become a breakout role in RAIN only a year later.
  • Interesting early talkie with Joan as a laughing sinner who is then cast aside by her love interest and saved by Clark Gable and the Salvation Army. Having seen Cary Grant previously as a temperance league type (`She Done Him Wrong'), I was able to accept Gable in this same role. Good moral messages as we see how traveling men use `loose' women in small towns and the good that is done by organizations like the Salvation Army.

    Aside from that, the best part of the movie is watching Joan dance made up to look like a farmer – with a long noses and a long goatee. She sings and dances as well as anyone. Of course switching later into Adrian-designed gowns makes for an interesting contrast. Early in the movie, there is a great facial shot of Joan as she anticipates meeting her boyfriend upstairs in the cabaret. This is a good story and makes for a pleasant hour and a quarter entertainment. Recommended.
  • "Laughing sinners" was a pleasant surprise to me. I never knew what a good actress Joan Crawford was until I saw this film. I saw her rather exaggerating performance in "Grand Hotel", and a better performance in 1931's "Possessed", but here she is totally convincing and real. There are moments of great beauty, especially the scenes between Crawford and Clark Gable, moments when the film shows a timeless quality. Gable and Crawford are completely believable as the Salvation Army officers : sincere, vulnerable and intense. Clark Gable in a very unusual role - wise, calm, sensitive and understanding - It makes him powerful in a subtle way. Neil Hamilton is terrific especially in the scene - a very long uninterrupted take ! - when he tries to persuade and seduce Joan Crawford - for a night of bliss. Can he offer her salvation ?
  • Like a lot of early '30s film, I found this a pretty interesting short (72 minutes) story. This one is about a chorus girl-type who gets jilted, hooks up with a Salvation Army man, then is enticed back to the old sinful ways for a night with the man who jilted her and finally realizes she is better off with the good guy and the good morals.

    This is an early look at Joan Crawford, who is blonde here with huge eyes. Clark Gable is sans mustache and really looks young. Neil Hamilton, the third lead, is the same man who went on to play Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series three decades later. In here, he's the pagan bad guy.

    This film goes a long way in portraying traveling salesmen as morally bankrupt people. Now why would they do that?!!
  • Clark Gable is particularly handsome in his Salvation Army uniform.He is very efficient when it comes to showing seduced girl Crawford the straight and narrow!And he must display lots and lots of patience ,indulgence and compassion for ,even after the marriage of her beau ,a smug buck,she's ready to fall in love again head over heels . Gable and Crawford singing canticles while delivering free meals to the needy.What a nice way to redeem your soul and to find true love!

    What's really tragic is that these poor people are still looking for free meals in the soup kitchen ,be it the the Salvation Army or one of the other charitable organizations .In France ,in the organization I'm currently working for("Les Restos Du Coeur" ) ,the number of beneficiaries has increased by 15% in 2010-2011.
  • utgard143 January 2014
    Oh, boy. Clark Gable in the Salvation Army. Where did they come up with this stuff? Nightclub performer Ivy Stevens (Joan Crawford) is despondent upon learning Howard "Howdy" Palmer (Neil Hamilton) has no intention of marrying her. She was just a booty call to our boy Howdy. How Neil Hamilton got so many roles in the early '30s as a ladies man type is beyond me but that's how it was then I guess. Anyway, Ivy decides to jump off a bridge but she is stopped by kindly and handsome Salvation Army worker Carl (a mustacheless Clark Gable). Ivy joins up with the Salvation Army too and is seemingly happy with her new lifestyle. But then one day Howdy spots her and, despite being married now, makes a move for her. Can Ivy resist Howdy's seductive ways? Can any woman?

    There's a few things wrong with this movie. First, on no planet does Joan freaking Crawford, at this time a young and sexy dancer, get that upset over being dumped by Neil Hamilton. He was born looking like a banker. So that's unbelievable. Second and third things are that Clark Gable is no Salvation Army worker and he sure as hell isn't a guy named Carl! Joan's farmer dance is the highlight of the movie and probably her best dancing number from all of her early dancing movies. Overall it's a watchable but mostly forgettable melodrama about a "wrong" woman going right. Avid Crawford and Gable fans will like it most.
  • This may not be the greatest of the Crawford/Gable pairings, but their affinity for each other is obvious, and as always what is unsaid between them speaks volumes about their off-screen relationship. The film's other highlights include Joan's singularly eccentric "farmer" dance, for which she sports a false nose and beard! This was surely the inspiration for the Soggy Bottom Boys' "disguises" and dancing in the climax of 'O Brother Where Art Thou?'. In any event, the phenomenal originality of her performance provides another dimension to Crawford's enduring film legacy.
  • I have never seen this film up until recently and was amazed at the great talent of Joan Crawford(Ivy "Bunny" Stevens) "Humoresque" '46 with John Garfield. Joan was very sexy and wore very revealing clothes for the early 1930's, her dancing and singing was unbelievable and she was so very pretty, slim and trim, not like the real "Mommie Dearest" character her daughter told us about. Clark Gable (Carl Loomis),"Gone With the Wind"'39 was Ivy's prince charming as a Salvation Army convert and when she appears in the park with her beautiful white dress, you just knew there was going to be an immediate CONVERSION OF SOULS! Veteran actor, Roscoe Karns, (Gred Geer) played a great supporting role. This film is filled with surprises, even a little African American Boy stealing a bite from a girls doughnut tore me up, there is many deep soul searching messages in this film and LOTS OF LAUGHTER and one attempted jump off a bridge. ENJOY!
  • A lot of interesting bits in this. O'Henry bars in 1931?! Reference to the Fresh Air taxi? Acting very good throughout, especially Neil Hamilton who was a real sleazeball. Joan Crawford, who I was never a big fan of, was very pretty, certainly better thas in "This Modern Age" (same year) and almost to her Lucille La Seur standards. The 2nd half was better than the 1st, but they, as was common then, always ended the movie too abruptly. Most revealing was the scene early on in which a bunch of kids were playing in the park, boys & girls. Some were black some were white. Then the religious right and their Code came along after which blacks were only portrayed as servants, buffoons and dullards.
  • This film is probably the weakest of the Gable/Crawford film pairings. It's not that their performances aren't great, it's just that they're not given that much to do. The storyline is very basic - Joan is a performer in a nightspot who has had a long-distance affair going with a traveling salesman, Howard Palmer (Neil Hamilton), for the past two years. He dumps her to marry the boss' daughter so he can further his career. He doesn't even have the courage to tell this to her face - he writes it on the back of a menu at the cafe and leaves before she reads it.

    This action wounds Ivy (Joan) to the core, and she is about to jump off a bridge one night when she is stopped by a Salvation Army member, Carl Loomis (Clark Gable). The two become friends and pretty soon Ivy is donning a Salvation Army uniform herself. One night a year later, when Ivy and the Salvation Army are proselyting in a nearby town, she runs into her ex-lover Howard Palmer. After a year of separation Howard has decided he would like to have it both ways - he'd like to have his bang (Ivy) and his bucks (his wife of convenience). Will Ivy stand firm on her new beliefs or will she fall? This film does have a few good things going for it. In the first part of the film, when Ivy is still working in the nightclub, we get to see Joan sing and dance for an entire number. She doesn't do much of that in her long film career and it is always a treat. Then there is the somewhat ridiculous spectacle of Clark Gable as a Salvation Army worker - this is before he became known more as a charming sinner rather than a laughing one. You can chalk up that bit of casting to Louis B. Mayer. This film was originally shot with Johnny Mack Brown in the lead, but Mayer didn't like the outcome and reshot it with Gable. Finally there is Neil Hamilton as one of the most slippery characters you'll find. Hard to believe he didn't have a real career breakthrough for almost another 35 years when he was cast as Batman's Commissioner Gordon.

    This whole issue of the thin line between good and evil in a person and the fact that those two sides exist in everyone is much more artfully explored in 1932's Rain, again starring Joan Crawford. That's a film I highly recommend.
  • Laughing Sinners is surely some good publicity for The Salvation Army. The plot of Ivy/Bunny (Joan Crawford) leaving her previous life behind and finding happiness in the helping of others is moralising but never came off to me as overly preachy. I like Laughing Sinners despite the film's inconsistency with sections of the movie having little to no impact on the overall story. The first twenty minutes of set up, for example, could easily have been done in half the time. Yet despite this, there is a powerful emotional undercurrent at the heart of Laughing Sinners with a number of highly moving scenes making up for the less than stellar portions of the film.

    At least some of these weaker moments are made passable from the presence of a comical, stereotypical Italian chef to a bizarre dance number in which Joan Crawford is dressed as a scarecrow; go figure. Likewise, another real highlight in Laughing Sinners is a scene in the park depicting a charity picnic which has such naturalism in both its documentary-like appearance as well as the acting; a piece of neorealism which doesn't feel like a movie set.

    As soon as Clark Gable enters the picture at 22 minutes the film truly takes off. Any scene with Crawford and Gable is pure magic with the sincerity in their interactions which at no point feels like acting. I don't think there's any other actress of the time who can as effectively as Crawford make you pour out your heart for the poor woman and rarely has she ever looked as angelic as she does here in her Salvation Army uniform. Likewise, many people will laugh at the idea of Clark Gable playing a Salvation Army officer but Laughing Sinners provides a side of Gable I wish more people could see. Like his role of Dr Ferguson in Men In White (1934), the part of Carl Loomis is saintly without delving into the sickly with his ability to project a real sense of warmth especially with his interaction with children.

    This is one of the few films in Gable's career in which he isn't a romantic lead as he only remains in the friend-zone with Joan. Never again would we see Gable as more of a boy scout and less the alpha male; as he cooks, wears sweaters and aprons and lives with his aunt.
  • Kenyon Nicholson's play "Torch Song" ran for 87 performances on Broadway, closing in November 1930; this film adaptation was released in May of the following year, and some historic reviewers who had seen the original play complained about the radically different ending added to the movie. "Laughing Sinners" was lightened up considerably over the stage version, and according to Crawford the whole film was shot with Johnny Mack Brown in the role ultimately awarded to Gable, being re-shot with Gable on the orders of Louis B. Mayer. On Broadway, Crawford's role was portrayed by ill-fated actress Mayo Methot, later to marry Humphrey Bogart.

    It is directed by Harry Beaumont, who handled Crawford's silent jazz baby films and later, "Dancing Lady." For Crawford, "Laughing Sinners" straddles a precipice between her singing and dancing activity and that of more serious drama; although already a star, her 1932 entries -- "Grand Hotel" and "Rain" -- would propel her status and popularity well beyond that of 1931. While it is a huge improvement over terribly stiff talkies like Garbo's "Anna Christie," "Laughing Sinners" is not Beaumont's best work, and the musical sequences are in some ways still the best thing about it. Crawford dominates the first half of the film and it's her boundless energy and enthusiasm that drives it. She is especially beautiful here, and her eyes radiate emotion; in the scene where she receives the "dear Jane" letter from first-class-heel Neil Hamilton, the reaction is played entirely through Crawford's ominous orbs. The most remarkable thing about it, though, is that Gable refuses to lay down and to let Crawford run away with this picture, which may have been what Mayer had in mind when he recast the role; this would prove the first of eight pictures Gable and Crawford would make together. In a sense, this picture feels like a "test" for the principals and, if so, Neil Hamilton fails it; he is stiff and colorless and one wonders why Crawford's dynamic character could be so head over heels with such a back-slapping good buddy. Some have mentioned that "Laughing Sinners" strains credibility somewhat, but within the context of 1931 the whole piece is well within the realm of the plausible; many American joined up with service and charity organizations such as the Salvation Army as a way to weather the economic depths of the depression. There are many scenes in "Laughing Sinners" that depression audiences could relate to, such as Crawford's spartan accommodations and the meal that Crawford and Gable share. The original play was set in a hotel and train station in Pomeroy, Ohio, and Ohioans will note references to Ohio place names, though there are no native exteriors.
  • Fans of 1930s-1940s films HAVE TO see Clark Gable in this film. Before his studio handlers figured out how to make him a stud, he was unmemorable and frankly not all that handsome. Weak chin and all that. In this film, the camera seldom shoots him straight on.

    Just three years later, Gable would star with Claudette Colbert in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and rock the hearts of female fans everywhere. And then in 1939 there was ,,, ,,, GONE WITH THE WIND.

    The other User Reviews here for LAUGHING SINNERS a/k/a COMPLETE SURRENDER are more than sufficient; no need to repeat what they've already said. My hope is that you'll watch this as the BEFORE photo of Gable, and then see what the backstage experts of Hair, Make-up Studio Publicity were able to do with this (almost) sallow-faced young man -- to create the AFTER Gable that was to come. No wonder they hand out Oscars for the Great Ones in categories beyond just Best Film, Actor and Director.
  • This movie was different, i didn't like it or hate it, i just don't know what to say about it about. Joan Crawford and Clark Gable are good, and it's pretty unusual to see clark gable playing a christian. I liked possessed much better with gable and crawford, which also came out in 31.
  • Laughing Sinners marks the first time Clark Gable appeared in a movie starring Joan Crawford. Crawford is the only name above the title and Gable is listed third in the cast list after Neil Hamilton (who would be better known as Commissioner Gordon in the "Batman" TV series). Crawford is a singer/dancer who falls for the traveling salesman Hamilton. He abandons her while she sings a love song for him. Gable plays a Salvation Army man who saves Joan from jumping off a bridge and convinces her to join. While she performs on a street corner, Hamilton sees Crawford and convinces her to stay in his hotel room. I'll stop right there and mention who else is in this movie: Guy Kibbee, Roscoe Karns, Cliff Edwards before he became the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, and, in a nice picnic scene with Gable and Crawford, Our Ganger Mary Ann Jackson, hair bob and all. There are some entertaining musical numbers danced by Crawford including an amusing sequence of Joan dressing as a farmer with funny nose and beard. Other than that and the picnic scenes, this is a pretty talky picture that reveals its stage origins too clearly toward the end so you may feel bored after a while. Still, an interesting curio for fans of all the above players.
  • According to legend, Johnny Mack Brown completed this film, only to have his scenes re-filmed with the upcoming superstar, Clark Gable. Apparently, the team of Crawford and Gable was too much for MGM studios to resist, even though they want you to believe that Clark and Joan could be believed as Salvation Army officers! Somehow....I don't think so!
  • Sexy Joan sings, dances (partly in male disguise!) and displays her thick, strong legs, until she sees the light under the guidance of Clark Gable and covers up in the Salvation Army robe. Their roles don't allow them much electricity in their chemistry, and they are not helped by a slight, mediocre script. ** out of 4.
  • lugonian16 July 2018
    LAUGHING SINNERS (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931), directed by Harry Beaumont, is a dramatic story that may contain some sinners in the cast, but in the most part, are not laughing, except for a scene involving a drunken party. The movie in question happens to be a new title to a Broadway play "Torch Song" by Kenyon Nicholson, starring Joan Crawford in her mission of mercy. Not as well known as one would expect, it's more notable for being Crawford's rematch under the direction of Harry Beaumont from DANCE, FOOLS, DANCE (1931), along with actor on the rise by the name of Clark Gable, elevated in the cast from seventh in the previous film to third in this latest edition. While Gable played mean tough guys in such 1931 releases as THE PAINTED DESERT (Pathe), NIGH NURSE (Warner Brothers), THE FINGER POINTS (First National), and reaching the peak of his career treating Norma Shearer rough in A FREE SOUL, LAUGHING SINNERS offers Gable an opportunity playing a nice guy as he did earlier in THE EASIEST WAY (1931), an image he would soon endure through much of his career from this point forward.

    The story opens as a Pembroke train station on a rainy night where Ivy Stevens (Joan Crawford) runs to and on board the passing train where she meets with Howard Palmer (Neil Hamilton), a traveling salesman whom she has known for two years. This time she joins him and his fellow salesmen, Fred Geer (Roscoe Karns), "the sardine king," and Mike (Cliff Edwards), the ukulele singer, to their next stop. Spending time with Howard, Ivy acquires a cabaret job singing and dancing for its patrons, where she has become close friends with an older showgirl, Ruby (Marjorie Rambeau). During a performance where Ivy dedicates a song to the man she loves, Howard, it is Howard who then writes her a farewell note as he is about to run off and marry Estelle, the bosses daughter. Totally distressed and betrayed, Ivy takes a walk to jump off a bridge. Her chances of suicide are stopped by the passing Carl Loomis (Clark Gable), a Salvation Army man, who talks her out of destroying her precious gift of life. During the course of a year, Ivy, now a member of the Salvation Army, and winning new friends, meets up with Howard again. Although still married, he wants to win her back and return to her life of sin. Others in the cast include: Guy Kibbee (Cass Wheeler, a mortician salesman of "underground novelty" a role Kibbee reprised from the stage); Gertrude Short (Edna); George Cooper (Joe); George Marion (Humpty, the cabaret manager); Clara Blandick, and the dark haired, thin faced Mary Ann Jackson from those early "Our Gang" comedies for Hal Roach as the little girl in the picnic scene at Lincoln Park.

    As in DANCE, FOOLS, DANCE, Crawford displays her singing and dancing ability with her night club singing, first with her "Red Hot Dance" dressed up like a bearded hillbilly in overalls and false nose; and a solo torch song spotlight singing "What Can I Do? I Love That Man" by Martin Brones and Arthur Freed.

    A major change in Gable's recent villainous performances to a wider range of his newfound character. Still minus his famous mustache, Gable again gathers much attention in his second of eight collaborations opposite Crawford that would last until another religious themed/prison story, STRANGE CARGO (1940). Neil Hamilton, resumes his second lead performance as he did in other MGM productions, and Cliff Edwards, who had a sizable role in DANCE, FOOLS, DANCE, has little to do this time around. Other than her dancing and her character part of the Salvation Army crew, the big surprise here is finding the dark-haired brunette Crawford becoming a dark-haired blonde.

    LAUGHING SINNERS succeeds mostly through its casting and little on its direction, but overall, a passable 72 minutes of betrayal and redemption story from a woman's point of view. Available on home video and DVD as well as broadcasts on Turner Classic Movies, especially during either Crawford or Gable tributes and festivals. (**1/2)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Even before he was typecast as a Hollywood he man Clark Gable found work playing toughs and gangsters in secondary roles with the exception of this role against type before or after stardom as a sincere Salvation Army worker trying to save good time cabaret girl Bunny Stevens from the wages of sin. Toned down from the macho self assuredness that would carry his career he gives a more than adequate performance supporting leads Joan Crawford and Neil Hamilton (yes, Inspector Gordon).

    Bunny (Crawford) is a modern flapper out for a good time when she get's the gate from her married traveling salesman boyfriend Howdy Palmer (Hamilton). Thunderstruck she attempts to toss herself in the river but is prevented by Salvation Army officer Carl Loomis (Gable) who after a long walk and talk and a night to think it over gets her to sign up. Rewarding as it is she runs into Howdy a year later who wears her resistance down.

    The blonde Crawford does her usual solid desperate depression era every-woman sch tick with her tremulous voiced struggle with the world while letting her piercing eyes and delicate toned figure fill in the rest. Neil as the heel (couldn't resist) wears the moustache in this film as he fast talks Bunny into bed. Loathsome and unctuous as he is he does not kid himself he is anything else and in doing so attains a scintilla of dignity in a role that is all sleazy creep.

    Scene stealers Guy Kibee ( a mortician salesman who deals in "underground novelties") and Roscoe Karns along with Hamilton do yeoman work in perpetuating the traveling salesmen stereotype while Gert Short buying an O'Henry candy bar has a brief but hilarious center stage moment. It's Crawford's vehicle from start to finish but with 20/20 hindsight Gable's toned down soul saver shows him gaining fast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you want to see Joan Crawford in fake nose and beard dancing up a storm, then banging a drum to collect sinners a la Sarah Brown in "Guys and Dolls", then this is your movie. She goes from nightclub performer involved with "Batman's" Neil Hamilton to the very religious Clark Gable for no apparent reason other than the fact that he is a hunk. Hamilton dumps her to become respectable then comes back when she apparently finds salvation. Who would you choose? Of Crawford and Gables' many pairings together, this is the poorest of the lot. Marjorie Rambeau is somewhat amusing as a hardboiled pal of Crawfords, and Cliff Edwards and Guy Kibbee offer alright performances in underdeveloped roles, but the whole story (what there is) is simply no laughing matter.
  • Laughing Sinners (1931)

    ** (out of 4)

    Boring, predictable and at times laughable melodrama from MGM features Joan Crawford playing Ivy, a naive girl who has her heart broken by a scumbag (Neil Hamilton) so she decides to kill herself. A Salvation Army preacher (Clark Gable) saves her from doing so and try to get her back on track but soon the old boyfriend shows up. LAUGHING SINNERS is such a bad film that it could only be saved by two screen legends who are both horribly miscast. It's strange that the performances would be what saves this film because the truth is that the performances really aren't that good. I think this film will mainly appeal to die-hard fans of Crawford and Gable who want to see what the two do in a lousy movie where both of them are playing roles that simply aren't suited for them. I've give them both credit for at least trying to pull the parts off but in the end they just don't work. I think one of the main problems is that both are so strong that it's hard to see them playing such soft characters. Crawford is somewhat charming playing the naive girl at the start of things but where she really heats up is towards the end when she's faced with a dilemma. The same can be said for Gable who just isn't believable as the soft-spoken preacher but he too picks up at the end when the muscles come out. Hamilton is rather forgettable in the role of the boyfriend and even Guy Kibbee is wasted in his supporting role. The screenplay is a real mess because it takes 25-minutes for the break-up to actually happen and then we have to sit through more melodrama and I'm sure you know how it's all going to end. Another problem is that the direction by Harry Beaumont is just so lifeless that everything drags. LAUGHING SINNERS is a pretty embarrassing movie but I still think fans of Crawford and Gable will remain mildly entertained just by seeing the two in roles that don't make them look too good.
  • What boob at MGM thought it would be a good idea to place the studly Clark Gable in the role of a Salvation Army worker?? Ironically enough, another handsome future star, Cary Grant, also played a Salvation Army guy just two years later in the highly overrated SHE DONE HIM WRONG. I guess in hindsight it's pretty easy to see the folly of these roles, but I still wonder WHO thought that Salvation Army guys are "HOT" and who could look at these dashing men and see them as realistic representations of the parts they played. A long time ago, I used to work for a sister organization of the Salvation Army (the Volunteers of America) and I NEVER saw any studly guys working there (and that includes me, unfortunately). Maybe I should have gotten a job with the Salvation Army instead!

    So, for the extremely curious, this is a good film to look out for, but for everyone else, it's poor writing, sloppy dialog and annoying moralizing make for a very slow film.
  • A curious mixture of grit and fluff that doesn't work because of their incompatibility. Best is the rendering of the traveling salesman's grubby milieu: booze, poker games, floozies, boredom, played out in second-rate hotels and saloons. Though seemingly at home on the perimeter of these surroundings, cabaret singer and dancer Ivy (Joan Crawford) is incredibly naive, believing she has found fidelity and true love in her affair with the sleaziest of the traveling men. When he jilts her, she chooses suicide - until saved, at the last instant, by a cloyingly sanctimonious Salvation Army worker, Carl (played by a badly miscast Clark Gable), who persuades her that, whatever her mistakes, she has much to live for. Ivy devotes herself to the Army's mission, finds fulfillment and inner peace - until a chance encounter with her devious former lover causes her to fall by the wayside once again - until the latter's confrontation with Carl causes her to be saved once again - this time for keeps (we are meant to believe), as Ivy and Carl literally walk off into the sunset. It's all a bit much.

    Guy Kibbee and Roscoe Karns score highest as a couple of washed-out drummers, present and future. An added bonus is Joan's very appealing "eccentric" dance routine. But her character, around which the story revolves, is simply too extreme and inconsistent to be convincing.
An error has occured. Please try again.