In a Nutshell: Across the Wide Missouri (1951)
Directed by: William Wellman
Co-stars: Ricardo Montalban, Adolphe Menjou
Synopsis: Gable is Flint Mitchell, a fur trapper from Kentucky leading a group of French and Scottish trappers through the rugged West in the 1820′s. Battling Blackfoot Indians all the way, especially their chief Ironshirt (Montalban), he finds love with an Indian chief’s granddaughter (portrayed by Mexican actress Maria Elena Marques).
Best Gable Quote: “You’re full of magic…the one woman in the world for me and I love you, pigeon. Maybe I didn’t know it when I found you but I know it now. You can’t understand what I’m trying to tell you and I don’t understand much you say. Someday, maybe.”
Fun Fact: Test audiences reacted negatively to the film, especially its bloated 135-minute running time. It was then edited down to 76 minutes and a narrator was added to fill in any plot holes that resulted. MGM musical star Howard Keel read the narration, uncredited.
My Verdict: Not the best Western in the world, but not really the worst. Clark looks quite handsome in this, his first color picture since GWTW. His hair is dyed dark black and he’s deeply tanned and in shape. The plot is a pretty basic Western one–cowboys vs. Indians–and the romance borders on creepy considering his wife is sold to him like a piece of meat and can’t speak English! Clark does what he can with the material.
In a Nutshell: Lone Star (1952)
Directed by: Vincent Sherman
Co-stars: Ava Gardner, Broderick Crawford
Synopsis: In this semi-factual historical western, Gable is Devereaux Burke, a cattle baron enlisted by President Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) in 1845 to help convince Texas to become part of the United States. Gable encounters newspaperwoman Martha Ronda (Gardner) and her beau, Senator Thomas Craden (Crawford) who want Texas to become its own republic. Devereaux and Martha soon fall in love despite their differing opinions and he prepares for a final showdown with Craden.
Best Gable Quote: “It’s convenient to have a woman you can take for granted. Not very exciting but convenient. I’ve never been that lucky.”
Fun Fact: The last film of the legendary Lionel Barrymore, who was wheelchair bound. Sherman and Gable both convinced him to take the small role of President Andrew Jackson.
My Verdict: Not very good. Rather boring and tedious. The best scenes are the ones between Ava and Clark, who snap and crackle with chemistry, but even they can save this dull plot and plodding script. Clark’s worst Western.