Here’s a completely obscure, not to say befuddling, piece of footage showing us Jean Harlow in conversation with her ‘vocal coach’ Samuel Kayzer. (It somehow makes sense that this footage is entirely silent). Who shot it? For what purpose? It doesn’t look professionally done so was it some kind of home movie experiment? We’re inside the house for a full minute and don’t really know what the hell is going on. But things get more interesting when we move outside at 1:10 and see Kayzer and Harlow exiting his house in Whitley Heights, a 1920s hillside development in Hollywood across from the Hollywood Bowl (more or less). The house, located at 6313 Whitley Terrace, still stands–here are a bunch of beautiful shots of it made for a semi-recent rental brochure. It was built in 1922 and in 1923 made headlines when one Bruce McCaskill brutally and savagely beat his wife Frances on the front porch with golf clubs in front of 50 neighbors on New Year’s Day after a party. (Frances had supposedly kissed actor Robert Gollmers–if that’s your idea of a good time). She wanted to press charges–this wasn’t her first time on the wrong side of the big game hunter/movie director’s bad side–her mother, a wealthy Boston matriarch, threatened to cut her out of the will if she took him back. But she dropped the charges on January 21. So there! A couple of interesting points: Kayzer is referred to as her ‘acting coach’ by the person who posted this video but is otherwise referred to as her ‘vocal coach’. This makes some sense when one compares Harlow’s dreadfully slow, nasal vamp-diction in ‘Hells Angels’ and ‘The Public Enemy’ with the much more natural and saucy dialogue delivery in her MGM films only a year later. Since ‘Red Dust’ is 1932 I date this footage to that year–the car, though I can’t identify the make or year, feels much more late 20s than mid-30s. And what are we to make of the final ‘balcony scene’ shot between two men once Harlow is gone? Your guess is as good as mine, if not better.


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