In a Nutshell: Honky Tonk (1941)
Directed by: Jack Conway
Co-stars: Lana Turner, Frank Morgan
Synopsis: Gable is fugitive con artist Candy Johnson, who stumbles upon the small town of Yellow Creek while on the run. He quickly takes advantage of the town’s lack of law and order. He also steals the heart of Elizabeth (Turner), a Boston-bred girl with a crooked father (Morgan). Although he insists he can’t be tied down, she manipulates him into marrying her and he becomes the most respected man in Yellow Creek. Her father doesn’t trust him, however, and sets out to destroy his reputation in town.
Best Gable Quote: “You’ve got a full set of Boston principles which are about as easy on a man as a hair suit!”
Fun Fact: Turner became flustered when Carole Lombard turned up on set during the filming of one of Turner
and Gable’s love scenes. Feeling Lombard’s stare, she ran to her dressing room and when she re-emerged, Lombard was gone. She assumed Gable had asked her to leave. When Turner apologized, Gable simply said, “I understand.”
My Verdict: Rhett Butler in the Wild West with a gun and a bag of candy. That’s pretty much Candy Johnson for you. But it’s an enjoyable romp, with Clark playing his typical anti-establishment bad guy who grows a conscience because of the right woman. Much is always been made of Clark and Lana’s chemistry, but in this film she is so smug and ladylike I hardly find it boiling. Great supporting turns by Marjorie Main, Claire Trevor and Frank Morgan. Clark’s best Western, hands down.
In a Nutshell: Somewhere I’ll Find You (1942)
Directed by: Wesley Ruggles
Co-stars: Lana Turner, Robert Sterling
Synopsis: Gable is Jonny Walker and Sterling is Kirk Walker, brothers who work together as war correspondents for a New York newspaper, just returning from overseas. They aren’t home for long before they are competing for the affection of Paula Lane (Turner), a reporter who flip-flops between the two. When Paula is sent on assignment to Indochina and disappears, the brothers are commissioned to find her. Once they do find her, Pearl Harbor happens and the three of them end up in Bataan: Jonny reporting for the paper, Kirk as a solider and Paula as a Red Cross nurse. The film was a “flag waver” meant to inspire war bond sales.
Best Gable Quote: “Here’s lesson number one: When you find a blonde the right age and weight who knows the value of suspense, that’s bad.”
Fact (that’s not fun at all): Gable’s wife, Carole Lombard, died when her plane crashed into Table Rock Mountain near Las Vegas, Nevada on January 16, 1942. She was 33. She had been selling war bonds (2 million of them) in her home state of Indiana. She had wanted Gable to join her but he couldn’t because he was set to start filming on Somewhere I’ll Find You. Instead her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and Gable’s longtime publicist and close friend Otto Winkler accompanied her. All perished in the crash. Filming was halted January 17-February 22 while Gable mourned and made funeral arrangements. Nobody was sure that he would return to the picture at all and Louis B. Mayer had Robert Taylor waiting in the wings to take over the part if Gable wasn’t up to it. When he did return to the set, Gable did not want to be babied or coddled in any way. This was to be Gable’s last film for nearly three years. He joined the Army Air Corps just before this film was released (much against MGM’s wishes), in honor of Lombard and to serve his country. He did not return to the screen until 1945, after he was discharged.
My Verdict: Taking the emotion that was going on behind the scenes out of it, this film is merely ok. It starts out as a silly story about two brothers chasing the same blonde who just can’t seem to make up her mind but then takes a sharp turn into an exotic adventure story as the two boys try to track down their beloved in Asia. It’s a really a humdrum film that takes on a gray pallor because of Lombard’s death looming over it like a stink over a trashpile, unfortuntately.