In a Nutshell: But Not For Me (1959)
Directed by: Walter Lang
Co-starring: Carroll Baker, Lilli Palmer
Synopsis: Gable is Russ Ward, an aging Broadway producer deep in debt and losing his touch. When he finally decides to throw in the towel, his much younger secretary, Ellie Brown (Baker), admits to being in love with him. Her speech to him gives him the idea for a great play and he sets to work on it, reviving his career, leading Ellie on in the process. She proves she can play the lead role and becomes a success. Russ starts to have feelings for Ellie but his ever-present meddling ex-wife, Kathryn (Palmer) interferes.
Best Gable Quote: “That’s one of the tragedies in life. People not believing what’s right in front of them.”
Fun Fact: The only time Gable worked with director Walter Lang, who was a longtime friend. Walter’s wife, “Fieldsie” Lang, was Carole Lombard’s close friend and Carole was godmother to their son, Richard.
My Verdict: A little known gem. The great part is that Clark gets to make fun of himself a bit in the film, as he is in the same boat as his character: having to constantly reaffirm his worth to his profession, being paired with women half his age. He seems at ease in the role; he’s having fun and it shows. Critics realized it too, as Clark received one of his only two Golden Globe nominations for the role. The script is snappy and although I think any handful of starlets could have done Baker’s role, Palmer is sheer delight as the jealous ex-wife.
It’s not on DVD but is available in Amazon Instant Video
In a Nutshell: It Started in Naples (1960)
Directed by: Michael Shavelson
Co-stars: Sophia Loren, Vittorio De Sica, Marrietto
Synopsis: Clark is Mike Hamilton, a Philadelphia lawyer who travels to Rome to settle the estate of his estranged brother who had drowned. He is shocked to learn that he has a nephew–an impressionable, unruly eight-year-old boy named Nando (Marietto), who is being cared for by his mother’s sister, Lucia (Loren). At first Mike tries to give Lucia some money and head back to America, but as he gets to know Lucia and Nando, he decides to stick around. Lucia works as a maid and cook during the day and as a nightclub singer at night. Nando doesn’t attend school and roams the streets barefoot, passing out nightclub flyers and smoking cigarettes. Mike decides Nando would be better off in America with him, a decision not welcomed by Lucia. After his lawyer suggests to both of them that they “make nice” to settle the matter out of court, they fall in love.
Best Gable Quote: “You have to approach a hamburger with assurance. If you show it that you’re frightened, you’ll wind up with a shirt full of mustard.”
Fun Fact: Clark was hesitant to take the role as he felt that he was far too old to be romancing the twenty-five-year-old Sophia Loren. The producers convinced him by showing him a film she had made with Cary Grant the year before, Houseboat. Clark liked the film and since Loren seemed to have chemistry with Grant, one of Clark’s contemporaries, he agreed to do It Started in Naples.
My Verdict: The scenery alone is worth watching the film, and it is actually an adorable little picture. Clark’s scenes with the little boy are sweet and even though I wouldn’t rank Sophia as one of my favorite of his leading ladies, their sparring and making up actually work in this romantic setting. Clark is looking rather bloated and old here, but those sparking eyes and comedic chops are shining through.