Mogambo (1953)



Release Date: October 9,1953
Directed by: John Ford

Ava Gardner
Grace Kelly’s Movie of the Month, November 2012

Nutshell Review, March 2014

Available on DVD individually and also as part of The Clark Gable Signature Collection

This is a remake of Gable’s 1932 hit, Red Dust. The setting and character’s names have changed, but the basic love triangle plot remains the same. Gable is Victor Marswell, who earns his living in Africa by trapping wild animals for zoos and carnivals. His no-nonsense way of life is interrupted by the arrival of Eloise “Honey Bear” Kelly (Gardner), a sassy showgirl from New York who is stranded there. They clash at first but soon are bedfellows. Just as Honey Bear leaves, anthropologist Donald Nordley (Donald Sinden) and his lovely wife, Linda (Kelly) arrive. Honey Bear’s boat wrecks and when she returns to camp, she finds that Victor now only has eyes for Linda. Heartbroken, she watches their affair unfold behind Donald’s back. Filmed on location in Africa, Mogambo features beautiful scenery and native chants instead of an instrumental score.

Watch the trailer:

Quote-able Gable:

“Get the jeep!” first line

“Bunny? No, this is not Bunny.”

“May I ask who you are, why you’re here and what in blue blazes is going on?”

“Not an honest feeling from her kneecap to her neck!”

“What do you expect me to do for him, Mrs. Nordley? Crawl in bed with him and hold his hand?”

“I had it coming. You pack a good wallop!”

“So she’s pretty! What in blue blazes does that have to do with the price of pork!”

“I’m not so much worried about your reputation as your health!”

“You asked me why I never married. Maybe you yourself are the reason, Linda.”

“Get off my back, Kelly, I’m in no mood for it.”

“I went yellow!”

“Sometimes it gets you nasty enough to get a nasty job done.”

“Certainly I’m drunk. But I certainly know what I’m saying. Listen Mrs. Nordley, you’re not going to tell me that you’ve been taking all this seriously are you? You know how it is on safari–it’s in all the books. The women always falls for the white hunter and we guys make the most of it, can you blame us? When you all come along with that look in your eye, ain’t a guy in the whole world that could–”

“It suits me, Kelly.”

“I said take good care of her!” final line

Behind the Scenes:

Filmed on location in Nairobi and Uganda. Interiors were shot on an MGM soundstage in London.

Gable arrived in Nairobi to start filming on November 1, 1952.

Gardner and Kelly, with Gardner’s husband Frank Sinatra, arrived on November 7. Gable’s flight from Rome to Nairobi was the first he had taken since Carole Lombard’s death in 1942.

Gable and Kelly began a romance during the filming. She called him “Ba”, the Swahili word for father, and they spent their free time fishing together or in his tent. She told friends that they even went skinny-dipping in Lake Victoria. The affair quickly ended after the shoot was moved to London for the interiors and Kelly’s mother began chaperoning them.

Gable developed a serious gum infection during shooting, due to his false teeth. He only trusted his dentist in Los Angeles, so he had to fly back to the States, missing seven days of the shoot.

Gardner reportedly missed ten days of the shoot because she flew to London to have an abortion.

The cast and crew spent Christmas in Africa, so MGM flew in food and threw a big banquet in a tent. Frank Sinatra provided the entertainment, singing Christmas songs and requests.