Soldier of Fortune (1955)
20th Century Fox
Release Date: May 22, 1955
Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
Clark is Hank Lee, an American living in Hong Kong who earns big money smuggling in goods from Communist China. Jane Hoyt (Hayward) arrives in Hong Kong hoping to find her photographer husband Louis (Barry) who has been missing for months. Hank agrees to help her even though he fell in love with her at first sight. They learn that Louis was taken prisoner by the Chinese government, allegedly for taking some taboo pictures. There’s much adventure on the seas as Hank and crew set out to rescue him. Finally reunited with her husband, Jane finds herself not as happy as she thought she would be.
“Hey Billy, don’t be so bloodthirsty!” first line
“My voice was never made to sing lullabies.”
“What’s the percentage in risking my neck for another man’s wife?”
“Maybe I’d better carry you up the stairs, huh?”
“Phone me Thursday at 9:00 with the answers or I’ll buy firecrackers for your funeral.”
“I’m just making sure somebody doesn’t declare war on me. It’s an old Yankee custom. People take advantage of you when you’re weak. I found that out long ago.”
“You know, all my life I’ve wanted to meet someone like you, someone I could believe in. I was beginning to think there wasn’t anyone. I never thought I’d find out the hard way.”
“You still love him?” last line
Behind the Scenes:
Gable’s first freelance project after leaving MGM.
Gable had developed a noticeable tremor (some say due to stress, some blame excessive drinking, others claim he had undiagnosed Parkinson’s disease) that caused the director to cut most of his close-ups. He also restricted the scenes to just a few lines as the tremor would become more prominent the longer the scene went on.
Hayward was in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle over her 9 year old twin sons. Her husband obtained a court order preventing her from taking the boys to Hong Kong for the shoot. She refused to leave without them. Producers contemplated recasting her, but Gable persuaded them to use a double for her in Hong Kong scenes. As a result, the script was rewritten to satisfy this and Hayward shot all of her scenes at the studio in Los Angeles. She was very grateful to Gable.
Gable had rekindled his romance with Kathleen “Kay” Spreckels before he flew to Hong Kong to shoot this film. She greeted him at the airport upon his arrival home, causing the gossip columns to predict an engagement. This angered him as he didn’t feel ready to commit at the time but they were married less than a year later.