Red Dust (1932)


Red Dust
Release Date: October 22,1932
Directed by: Victor Fleming

Jean Harlow
Mary Astor
Gene Raymond

Available on DVD through the Warner Brothers Archive Collection’s Movie of the Month, December 2010

Gable is Dennis Carson, a rubber plantation owner in Indochina. His no-nonsense way of life is interrupted by the arrival of Lily, or “Vantine” (Harlow), a sassy prostitute from Saigon who is on the run from the law and wants to lay low for a while. They clash at first but soon are bedfellows. Just as Vantine leaves, overseer Gary Willis (Raymond) and his lovely wife, Barbara (Astor) arrive. Vantine’s boat wrecks and when she returns to the plantation, she finds that Dennis now only has eyes for Barbara. Heartbroken, she watches their affair unfold behind Gary”s back.

Red Dust Theme:


Watch the re-issue trailer:



Photoplay magazine, December 1932:

The virile Gable is back again, in one of those he-man parts that made him famous.  With him is Jean Harlow, in her most likable role.  The result is a picture worth seeing.

The story is laid on a rubber plantation in the jungle; with Clark the owner,  and Harlow a flip little “Sadie Thompson” type with a heart of gold. To this hole of red dust, coolies and storms, comes Gene Raymond and his bride, Mary Astor. Gable falls in love with Mary and trouble begins.

There’s a lightness in the direction, a sparkle in the dialogue and a grand punch ending. Jean Harlow gets the most out of every line and all but steals the show.

Donald Crisp, Tully Marshall and Willie Fung contribute strong bits.

Movie Classic magazine, January 1933:

In two respects, I’d say Clark Gable runs into luck in “Red Dust”–he has Jean Harlow as co-star, and once more he has a role with some “menace” in it. But in two other respects, he still is out of luck–for once again, he doesn’t have a role of the size he deserves, and once again, his co-star walks off with the picture. In the present instance, it may surprise many that Jean accomplishes this feat. But the truth of the matter is that, if it weren’t for Jean, this picture would be just another of those triange dramas of the Orient. In this case, the hero loves another man’s wife (Mary Astor), but besides his conscience, he has a hard-boiled, good-natured adventuress (Jean) to battle. Her buoyancy saves the day. Gable and Mary Astor do well enough, but they don’t have enough to do.

Photoplay magazine, January 1933:

Squaring a triangle inthe jungle, Clark Gable is grand as a he-man, but Jean Harlow almost outshines him. The climax is gripping and true, the dialogue perfect. (Dec.)

clark gable red dust jean harlow

Quote-able Gable:
“I thought so. This flow isn’t worth a dime!” first line

“What a cast iron nerve you’ve got.”

“You think I’m going to sink the rest of my life into this dry rot so the rest of the world can ride around on balloon tires?”

” I’ve been looking at her kind ever since my voice changed!”

“If you don’t keep quiet, I’m going to lock you up in one of the outhouses, what would you think of that?”

“You talk too much but you’re a cute little trick at that. Why haven’t you been around before?”

“All right, if that makes you feel any better.”

“Explain the joke and I’ll die laughing.”

“Out here we all smack each other sooner or later. You were just getting it out of your system early, that’s all.”

“I have a special fondness for somebody who stands up and fights back. Particularly if she’s a woman who looks extraordinarily beautiful when she’d doing it. And even more beautiful when she’s calmed down.”

“Stop looking through keyholes, it’s bad for the eyes.”

“I’m afraid I’m pretty crazy about you.”

“You know what I’ve just been? I’ve been noble. I give you, Saint Dennis, the big sacrifice boy!”

“Sure, I’m drunk. That’s why I’m telling you the truth. You want to hear some more truth? I didn’t say anything to your husband down there and I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve just been kidding you all the time and everybody knew about it. If you want to come down here, you come down here on our rules. And if you want to cheat on your husband, that’s okay with me and I’m the boy you’re looking for! And let me tell you this: I’m not a one woman man. I never have been and I never will be. If you want to take your turn…”

“All right, if it makes you feel any better.”

“Roqpert or gorgonzola?” last line

clark gable mary astor jean harlow victor fleming red dust

Behind the Scenes:

John Gilbert desperately wanted the role of Dennis, as his career has been in sharp decline since talking pictures took over from silents. But MGM wanted to capitalize on Gable’s ascending fame and cast him instead. Gilbert was devastated.

Gable and Harlow became close friends on the set. While everyone else called her “The Baby”, he called her “Sis”. Despite rumors of a romance, they remained close friends (only) until her death.

Harlow’s husband of just two months, Paul Bern, committed suicide while the cast was on break for Labor Day. Harlow was absent from the set for ten days.

During filming of the rain barrel sequence, Harlow stood up in the barrel, topless, and shouted, “Here’s one for the boys in the lab!” and burst into laughter. Director Fleming had the film removed from the camera and destroyed to prevent any leaks from getting out on the black market.

Gable was the only actor to resume his original role in the 1952 remake, Mogambo.