In a Nutshell: Key to the City (1950)
Directed by: George Sidney
Co-stars: Loretta Young, Frank Morgan
Synopsis: Gable is Steve Fisk, the boorish mayor of Puget City, who meets Clarissa Standish (Young), the stuffy mayor of Winona, Maine at the annual mayors conference in San Francisco. They fall in love despite their differences but trouble arises as they try to make their relationship work outside the convention.
Best Gable Quote: “I don’t start anything I can’t finish. If I tell you I love you, I mean it.”
Not-So-Fun Fact: Young and her husband hosted the film’s wrap party at their home on September 18, 1949. It was during the party that everyone learned that their costar, Frank Morgan, had died suddenly of a heart attack. Gable had played golf with him that very morning.
My Verdict: An enjoyable comedy. After 15 years, Loretta and Clark still have chemistry–although you kind of wonder why Clark bothers trying so hard to melt her chaste armor…but nonetheless. Frank Morgan, in his last role, is a delightful sidekick as always. And Clark gets to lead a bar room brawl, just like in the old days! Good script and a cute little romance.
In a Nutshell: To Please a Lady (1950)
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Co-stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou
Synopsis: Gable is Mike Brannon, a decorated war hero and a ruthless race car driver who will do anything to win. Stanwyck is feisty Regina “Reggie” Forbes, who writes a no-holds-barred weekly syndicated newspaper column. She sets her sights to rip apart Brannon after he runs another racer off the track into a fatal crash. She confronts him about the crash following a race and is put off by his blasé attitude. Furious by his indifference, she writes a scathing column about how heartless he is. After that, Brannon is suspended from auto racing and can’t find a job racing anywhere; her column has poisoned his name. The only employment he can find is being a daredevil driver for a local fair. Regina attends the fair, morbidly curious of what has become of the man she forced out of racing. He is none too pleased to see her, but there is a thin line between their love and hate—soon sparks ignite. While both are ruthless in their pursuits, their love falters as she can not get over the fact that he was responsible for the death of another man. The finale was filmed at the Indianapolis Speedway and real footage was used from the 1950 Indianapolis 500.
Best Gable Quote: “You better listen to what I’m saying or I’ll knock that smile off your face!”
Fun Fact: Gable wasn’t too crazy about the title of the film, as he was recently married to Lady Sylvia Ashley and didn’t appreciate the press making the connection between the two. It was later re-released under the title Red Hot Wheels.
My Verdict: This film took a couple of viewings to grow on me. At first it seems a bit silly; Clark is rather old to be a daredevil race car driver, slapping dames and doing stunts. His chemistry with Barbara is definitely there, as they were good friends. I can’t help but wonder how this film would have been if they had done it fifteen years earlier? Maybe a bit steamier, a bit more scandalous. Their romance here is a bit stilted, but it’s ok. Clark is having fun and it shows.