To Please a Lady (1950)
Release date: October 13, 1950
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Available on DVD in The Barbara Stanwyck Signature Collection
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.
Watch the trailer
Clark Gable is perfectly content racing cars, joshing the girls, and having a gay, free time for himself when along comes Miss Barbara Stawnyck and—zingo—life isn’t easy. Barbara, a live-wire, frustrated columnist accuses him of deliberately killing a man and has him barred from race tracks. However, deep inside her, primitive passion rages for her brawny whipping-boy. Why Clark finally goes for her , too, is a mystery but a clue is revealed as he slaps her, then pulls her into his arms, murmuring through his teeth: ‘We’re alike you and me, baby.” A truer statement was never made, and it’s a darn good thing Barbara slips into a décolletage gown for one scene, otherwise the difference would have been even more difficult to discern. As an auto-racing film, this is excellent. As an insight into career women, it’s mere male propaganda to keep women chained to the kitchen stove.
“Lucky I guess.” first line
“Somebody’s got to win. I’ll be in there trying.”
“Well, what can we do you for that hasn’t already been done?”
“She can print anything she thinks about me and get away with it! Well nobody could print what I think about her!”
“You better listen to what I’m saying or I’ll knock that smile off your face!”
“It’s time somebody roughed you up a little. I can handle you, baby, you’re just another dame to me.”
“All the soft spots aren’t on the track!”
“How many times have I seen you? You look better each time.”
“There’s nobody like you. You’re not just any dame.”
“Stick around long enough and something could happen.”
“What do you want me to do? Kill myself to please you?”
“I get around, don’t I?”
“It’s going to take a much bigger one to relax me now!” last line
Behind the Scenes
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.
Gable did most of his own race driving, leaving only the most dangerous scenes to a stuntman.
This film was the first one since Carole Lombard’s death that Gable was happy to be making. He thought the script was great, he enjoyed auto racing and he was glad to be working with his friends Stanwyck, Menjou and director Clarence Brown.
While in Indianapolis filming the racing scenes, he visited the downtown spots where Lombard had made her final public appearances. Since Lombard’s death he had been fearful of flying, so he took a train to and from Indiana.