In a Nutshell: Hold Your Man (1933)
Directed by: Sam Wood
Co-stars: Jean Harlow, Stuart Erwin, Dorothy Burgess
Synopsis: Gable is Eddie Hall, a small-time con man on the run from the cops when he bursts into Ruby Adams’ (Jean Harlow) apartment and finds her in the bathtub. Ruby and Eddie quickly realize they are two peas in a pod: she is somewhat of a con artist herself, seducing and manipulating men to get what she wants. This is definitely pre-production code stuff, as the film offers no innuendo to cover up the fact that Eddie and Ruby are sleeping together. One of Eddie’s cons goes bad and he ends up in jail. Ruby is waiting for him upon his release and they quickly hatch a plan to con money out of one of Ruby’s suitors. It turns sour when Eddie becomes jealous and accidently kills the man. When the cops arrive, Ruby and Eddie are on their way back from getting a marriage license. Ruby gets lost in the crowd and nabbed by the cops, while Eddie escapes. She is sentenced to two years in a women’s reformatory. Soon after arriving there, she realizes she is pregnant. When Eddie learns of her pregnancy, he rushes to be by her side.
Best Gable Quote: “Don’t be so hard to get—I’m the fellow that saw you in the bathtub!”
Fun Fact: Adapted from a story by Anita Loos, a screenwriter on the MGM payroll. It was rushed into production as the studio was anxious to reteam Gable and Harlow after Red Dust was a smash hit.
My Verdict: I really love this film. Clark and Jean are crooks—better suited roles for them that society types–and their chemistry is white hot. I love the rather brazen indications of their indiscretions—her eating breakfast at his place in the morning after he had chased her into the bedroom the night before. And an illegitimate pregnancy was not something you would see even hinted at on the screen just a year later. There are points in the film in which both Clark and Jean get to show comedic AND dramatic chops. The script is snappy and the supporting cast is great. One of my personal favorites.
In a Nutshell: Night Flight (1933)
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Co-stars: John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery, Myrna Loy
Synopsis: Gable does not appear until a good twenty minutes into this ensemble piece. It is a tale of 24 dramatic hours in the Air Mail industry, where pilots risk their lives every day flying through the pitch black night with limited instruments and no lights guiding the way. This time, it’s a vaccine needed at a children’s hospital in South America. Gable is Jules, a pilot who has lost his way somewhere over Texas, while his wife (Hayes) waits at home for him and grows more and more frantic. Gable’s scenes are limited to a cockpit.
Best Gable Quote: He has no decent lines.
Fun Fact: Gable’s first experience working with producer David O. Selznick, with whom he would later work on Gone with the Wind.
My Verdict: This film is entirely reliant on the star power of its roster rather than plot or substance. It is slow and plodding and an utter waste of all these big stars. Clark and Helen Hayes are reteamed as husband and wife, but their interaction is limited to her talking to his portrait. Clark appears 20 minutes into the film and all of his scenes are in a cockpit. He was put on this film as just another name to add to this all star roster; a much smaller actor could have handled the role; he is completely wasted in this.