Cain and Mabel (1935)
Release Date: September 26, 1936
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon
Available on DVD through The Warner Brothers Archive Collection
Gable is Larry Cain, a small time boxer, whose publicity team cooks up a fake romance with Mabel O’Dare (Davies), an aspiring musical star, for publicity. The two loathe each other but begrudgingly agree to play along to help both of their careers. Of course along the way they actually do fall in love and decide to quit boxing and show business to be together. Their publicists won’t hear of it however and set to break them up.
Photoplay magazine, October 1936:
Having borrowed both Clark Gable and the lavish production motif of “The Great Ziegfeld” from MGM, Warners have whipped up the most entertaining Marion Davies picture in years.
The story is well. All about an ex-hash slinger, Marion, whose lack of box office glamour is ruining her stage career. When her press agent, Roscoe Karns, finds out that heavyweight champion Clark Gable is hounded by the same lack of customer appeal he decided to build a phony romance between them. Yes, you can guess the ending, but it’s so amusing you wouldn’t mind it being obvious from the start.
Grand laugh lines, tuneful music and a rowdy cast headed by Allen Jenkins and Ruth Donnelly help the stars bring you a very entertaining evening.
Photoplay magazine, November 1936:
Clark Gable teamed with Marion Davies in a swell story, lavishly produced. All about an ex-hash slinger chorine and a prize fighter who are press-agented into romance. Tuneful music and a grand cast. You’ll like this.
“You’ve just got to stop that racket, Pop. If you don’t, the first clench I get into tomorrow night, I’ll curl up in the champ’s arms and go to sleep!” first lines
“I’ve just got to get some sleep, Pop. I couldn’t get any now if the sandman was carrying bricks!”
“Someday I’ll meet that dame. When I do, I’ll spank her so tender she could sit on a newspaper and read the headlines!”
“I’m warning you, if I ever meet that dame, they’ll be throwing a benefit for her the next day!”
“If that galloping you were doing tonight is dancing, then I’ve seen the Russian ballet at a horse show!”
“I’m supposed to be a fighter and what am I doing–playing post office all over the front page with a dame!”
“Oh, so I’ve switched titles, have I? I’m America’s Sweetheart now, am I? Well get this: that cheap little publicity hound is going to apologize for this or I’ll wring her neck until the newspapers won’t be able to get a word out of her without a corkscrew!”
“If they printed what I thought of you, they wouldn’t be able to send it through the mail!”
“Honey, that’s your money, I can’t take that.” last line
Behind the Scenes
Nominated for Best Dance Direction for the song “I’ll Sing You 1,000 Love Songs”.
Davies claimed to be “allergic to mustaches,” so Gable shaved off his mustache for the role. This proved to be a problem when he was called back to the set of San Francisco for retakes and had to wear a fake mustache.
William Randolph Hearst (producer, publishing magnate and Davies’ paramour) spent $35,000 on the carousel for the musical number “Coney Island.” After filming was completed, the carousel was installed in the backyard of Davies’ Santa Monica home, near her pool and tennis courts.
The number, “I’ll Sing You 1,000 Love Songs” took two weeks to shoot and cost $400,000. It occupied nine minutes of screen time.
One of actress Jane Wyman’s first screen appearances. She is credited as “Chorus Girl”.
Filmed in Stage 7 (now Stage 16) at Warner Brothers, a studio that towers over all others on the lot, thanks to this film. William Randolph Hearst, the producer of the film and Davies’ paramour, demanded that the studio roof be ripped off and the studio be extended by over 30 feet to accommodate the large dance numbers planned for the film. WB head honcho Jack Warner refused to do it, saying it was too expensive, but Hearst, wanting to make his lady happy, footed the bill. It was deemed too pricey to rip the roof off and build up, so in an extremely difficult process, the studio was actually lifted off the ground and the new addition was built underneath it. At the time, it was the tallest soundstage in the world. Including the two million gallon water tank installed under its floors, the studio is 94 feet tall. You can see what the studio looks like today in this post about my visit to Warner Brothers Studios.