Laughing Sinners

Laughing Sinners is a 1931 American pre-Code Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature film starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable in a story about a cafe entertainer who experiences spiritual redemption. The dialogue by Martin Flavin was based upon the play Torch Song by Kenyon Nicholson. The film was directed by Harry Beaumont. Laughing Sinners was the second of eight cinematic collaborations between Crawford and Gable.

Laughing Sinners
Original film poster
Directed byHarry Beaumont
Written byContinuity:
Bess Meredyth
Martin Flavin
Edith Fitzgerald
Based onTorch Song
1930 play
by Kenyon Nicholson
StarringJoan Crawford
Neil Hamilton
Clark Gable
Music byCharles H. Gabriel
Martin Broones
Ina D. Ogden
CinematographyCharles Rosher
Edited byGeorge Hively
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • May 30, 1931 (1931-05-30)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$765,000[1]


Ivy Stevens (Joan Crawford) is a cafe entertainer in love with a shifty salesman (Neil Hamilton) who deserts her. In attempting to commit suicide, she is saved by Carl (Clark Gable), a Salvation Army officer. Encouraged by Carl, Ivy joins the Salvation Army. When her old flame re-enters her life, Ivy finds she is still attracted and begins another affair with him. Carl steps in and urges Ivy to resume her life with the Salvation Army. Ivy realizes that if she continues the affair, her life will only spiral downward. She drops the affair and resumes her commitment to the Salvation Army.




John Mack Brown was originally playing Gable's role when the studio decided to scrap his footage and reshoot the part with Gable taking Brown's place. At that point, Brown's distinguished career in mainstream feature films ended and he wound up demoted to cowboy B pictures, with his name changed to "Johnny Mack Brown."

Crawford and Rambeau, who both play chorus girls in Laughing Sinners, would go on to play mother and daughter in the film Torch Song in 1953. "Torch Song" is the name of the play on which Laughing Sinners is based.


Critical reception

Andre Sennwald commented in The New York Times, "Miss Crawford...has tempered the intense and not a little self-conscious quality of her acting without hurting her vibrant and breath-catching spirit."[2]

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $624,000 in the US and Canada and $141,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $156,000.[1]

See also


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Quirk, Lawrence J.. The Films of Joan Crawford. The Citadel Press, 1968.
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