In an Nutshell: Betrayed (1954)
Directed by: Gottfried Reinhardt
Co-stars: Lana Turner, Victor Mature
Synopsis: Gable is Colonel Pieter Deventer of Dutch Intelligence during World War II. He trains Carla Van Oven (Turner) to be the liaison between the British and the local resistance movement, led by a spunky rogue called “The Scarf” (Mature). Before she is put into position Pieter and Carla begin a romance. The team starts to suffer heavy losses after she joins them and Pieter begins to suspect she is a Nazi spy, while at the same time Carla begins to suspect The Scarf.
Best Gable Quote: “You stupid, whimpering fool. No, I’m the fool. You are what you always were.”
Fun Fact: Gable’s last film for MGM, after being a contract player there for 23 years. His box office had been faltering and MGM did not want to renew his $500,000 contract. Gable was also anxious to branch out and pursue his own projects.
My Verdict: Really, the only reason this film is memorable is that it is Clark’s last film for MGM. It’s slow-paced and rather tedious, with long periods of not much going on. The characters are underdeveloped and the script mediocre. It didn’t do well at the box office at the time, probably because people were flocking to see high-energy, colorful musicals, not drab war dramas. Lana is wasted here, trying to prove she can do drama without much sexpot. It is one of Clark’s few color pictures, so it has that going for it. That and not much else.
In a Nutshell: Soldier of Fortune (1955)
Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
Co-stars: Susan Hayward, Gene Barry
Synopsis: Clark is Hank Lee, an American living in Hong Kong who earns big money smuggling in goods from Communist China. Jane Hoyt (Hayward) arrives in Hong Kong hoping to find her photographer husband Louis (Barry) who has been missing for months. Hank agrees to help her even though he fell in love with her at first sight. They learn that Louis was taken prisoner by the Chinese government, allegedly for taking some taboo pictures. There’s much adventure on the seas as Hank and crew set out to rescue him. Finally reunited with her husband, Jane finds herself not as happy as she thought she would be.
Best Gable Quote: “You know, all my life I’ve wanted to meet someone like you, someone I could believe in. I was beginning to think there wasn’t anyone. I never thought I’d find out the hard way.”
Fun Fact: Hayward was in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle over her 9 year old twin sons. Her husband obtained a court order preventing her from taking the boys to Hong Kong for the shoot. She refused to leave without them. Producers contemplated recasting her, but Gable persuaded them to use a double for her in Hong Kong scenes. As a result, the script was rewritten to satisfy this and Hayward shot all of her scenes at the studio in Los Angeles. She was very grateful to Gable.
My Verdict: Another one of Clark’s few color films. This one is kind of a typical 1950’s espionage thriller, and there’s not much spectacular about it. Clark is good in what he has to work with, but you can’t help but think that the Clark from twenty years earlier would probably have been better equipped at manning cannons and romancing Susan Hayward. I think this one is truly a man’s film, of which I am not, so perhaps it is lost on me. I met a man in his 60’s a few years ago who eagerly wanted to talk Clark Gable with me, and this was his favorite film. He talked about it at length and said he watches it at least twice a year. So to each his own, I guess!
In a Nutshell: The Tall Men (1955)
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Co-stars: Jane Russell, Robert Ryan
Synopsis: Gable is Ben Allison, who along with his brother (Cameron Mitchell), join a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in 1866, headed by Nathan (Robert Ryan). En route, they save Nella (Jane Russell) from an Indian attack and she joins them on the journey. Ben and Nella share a cabin to ride out a blizzard and fall in love. Soon they realize that they have different futures in mind–Ben wants a ranch and a small family life, while Nella wants excitement–and they part ways, not amicably. Nella cozies up to Nathan and tension arises for the rest of the journey
Best Gable Quote: “You know something, when a woman looks pretty at sun-up then she’s really pretty.” (I really like that quote)
Fun Fact: Shot on location in Durango, Mexico
My Verdict: I am not really the biggest fan of Westerns, and this one is certainly not the greatest one ever made. Clark is looking pretty good in color here, although the black hair dye is a bit much! Jane Russell is sexy as always, and her and Clark’s playful banter and sniping at each other calls back to him and Ava Gardner. Although this one’s not so much a romance as a rootin’ tootin’ cattle drivin’ Indian shootin’ Western. It is what it’s supposed to be.