Directed by: Robert Wise
Co-stars: Burt Lancaster, Don Rickles, Jack Warden
Synopsis: Gable is Commander Richardson, a steel-willed Navy captain whose submarine is sunk by the Japanese early in World War II. After a year strapped behind a desk, he jumps at the opportunity to command another submarine–much to the chagrin of Lieutenant Bledsoe (Lancaster), who was set to take over the sub. The crew all sides with Bledsoe and resists Richardson’s authority. There is much uproar when the crew of the sub discovers that Richardson has gone off of their planned path to seek revenge on the Japanese sub that blew his up a year before.
Best Gable Quote: “You better put some gin in that lemonade.”
Fun Fact: Clark objected to a scene in which his character makes a rash decision that ends in disaster and because of this, Lancaster’s character takes over the sub. He thought it was not fitting to the character and didn’t like to play the sap. Despite producers’ protests that he had already approved the script with that scene in it, Clark wouldn’t budge. Finally, the script was changed so that instead Clark’s character was injured and unable to command the sub, leaving Lancaster in charge.
My Verdict: This one is kind of like Command Decision in that it’s strictly a man’s picture—no romance, no frilliness, no softness. Unlike Command Decision, this film has some heart and real drama. Clark and Burt didn’t see eye to eye on a lot during the production and I think the tension is apparent. For those bored with war movies, this one certainly won’t change your mind, but it’s a decent war drama. Clark has some great lines and delivers the punch when he should.
In a Nutshell: Teacher’s Pet (1958)
Directed by: George Seaton
Co-stars: Doris Day, Gig Young, Mamie Van Doren
Synopsis: Gable is Jim Gannon, a hard-nosed editor of a New York newspaper. When Professor Erica Stone (Day) requests that Jim speak to her journalism class, he rebuffs her with a sarcastic and mean-spirited letter, saying that people can only learn the newspaper business by working in the newspaper business and classes are a waste of time. When Jim, forced by his boss, goes down to Erica’s class to apologize, she reads the letter aloud to the class before he has the chance to explain himself. Embarrassed but charmed by Erica, he signs up for her class and calls himself Jim Gallagher. He quickly becomes her star pupil and he makes his romantic intentions known. He is, however, involved with a sultry nightclub singer (Van Doren) and she is involved with a know-it-all psychology professor (Young). As their romance is blossoming, Erica goes to Jim’s boss to see if he can arrange a job for her star pupil. It is there that she is faced with the real Jim and learns he has deceived her all along.
Best Gable Quote: “This morning she called me stupid. Well, two weeks ago I’d have belted her. But this morning I say to myself: ‘Why did she call me stupid?’ And the answer came to me like that: Because I am stupid!”
Fun Fact: Gable got along with both of his female costars–Day respected him and Van Doren admitted to having a slight crush on him. The ladies did not, however, get along with each other. Day was apparently quite cold to Van Doren, which she didn’t understand. After Van Doren spoke to the press about Day’s cold treatment of her (while promoting her autobiography), Day refused to spend to speak about Van Doren in interviews from then on.
My Verdict: If you watch just one of Clark’s films from the 1950’s, this one should be it. These are the kind of comedies that Clark should have been doing throughout the decade—not the lackluster war dramas and westerns he was in. The script is hilarious and it’s great to see Clark rolling his eyes and making fun of himself after years of playing the heavy. Doris is another leading lady young enough to be his daughter, but for me the chemistry here works. She is, as always, a delight. The scenes with Clark and Doris with Gig Young at the nightclub are worth the DVD price alone. A must see.