This month, Clark is a rogue newspaper reporter (again) and Joan Crawford is a spoiled heiress (again) in Love on the Run.
Gable is Mike Anthony, a newspaper reporter always in competition with his college buddy, Barnabus Pell (Franchot Tone) who works for a rival paper. When Mike attends the wedding of socialite Sally Parker (Crawford) to a European prince, he becomes her confidante and helps her escape the nuptials. With Barnabus hot on their trail, Mike and Sally steal a spy’s plane and head across Europe. The spy wants his plane back (and his secret plans) and Barbabus wants his piece of the story, keeping them on the run, of course falling in love along the way.
Love on the Run is, in a word, silly. It starts out cute enough, with Clark and Franchot constantly trying to one up each other.
But the film meanders into ridiculous territory when Clark and Joan are “on the run” through Europe, being chased by spies whose plane their stole and with Franchot on their tail. There are definitely no plot twists in this one, but it is pretty much what the masses had come to expect from a Clark Gable rom com.
Joan and Clark always have chemistry, even in a silly plot like this. The best scene in the whole film is them meeting in the beginning, with him not telling her he’s a reporter out to scoop her story as she runs out on her wedding. Their banter is classic.
Later, while hiding out in a chateau and wearing antique duds, they share a sweet dance to a music box as they pretend to be ancient royalty. And soon after comes a typical Clark Gable pick-up line: “You’re the only girl this side of the moon.”
Clark is definitely in his element playing a wisecracking reporter. This role was not exactly a stretch for him and he was comfortable with the director, W.S. “Woody” Van Dyke.
Clark was recruited to star with Joan in the film because while Clark was riding high on the success of films like Call of the Wild and San Francisco, Joan’s past few films had failed miserably at the box office. So Clark was brought in as her leading man to boost her back up. My, my, how times had changed. In 1931, Joan was paired with newbie Clark in fare like Dance Fools Dance and Possessed to boost his star power.
Nobody would have been surprised to hear that Clark and Franchot did not get along on the set of this film. Back in 1933, both were costarring with Joan in Dancing Lady. Clark and Joan had been embroiled in a heavy off-and-on affair since 1931, and when Clark missed a lot of time on the set due to illness, Franchot and Joan fell in love. Clark, despite the fact that he was very much involved at the time with British actress Elizabeth Allan AND despite the fact that he was still married to second wife Ria, felt burned when he returned to the Dancing Lady set and saw that Franchot was a frequent vistor to Joan’s trailor.
Joan and Franchot eventually married in 1935 and so were married on the set of Love on the Run, although because Franchot was pretty much doomed to sidekick Siberia in the 1930’s he gets to watch Clark woo and win his wife.
Despite this, Clark and Franchot were actually good buddies. They had discovered they had joint loves of booze and cards while on location for their film Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935. Franchot and Joan were the two bickering on the set, actually. All was not bliss in the Tone household.
As for Clark and Joan offscreen, Love on the Run would be their last film together until 1940’s Strange Cargo. By then, Joan and Franchot were divorced and it was Joan’s turn to be jealous…of Clark’s matrimonial bliss with Carole Lombard. Reportedly their relationship was rather frosty during the making of that film.
Some of my very favorite publicity stills of Clark and Joan are from Love on the Run—Joan in a flowing dress that cascades out while they dance. I often see these photos online labeled incorrectly as being from Dancing Lady, but no, they are indeed from Love on the Run.
Read more about the film here and see over 200 pictures from the film in the gallery.