The King and Four Queens (1956)
Russ-Field-Gabco Productions/United Artists
Release Date: December 21, 1956
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Jo Van Fleet
Available on DVD here
In this Cinemascope Western, Gable is Dan Kehoe, a fugitive outlaw on the hunt for gold. In one town, he hears the story of the bandit McDade brothers, who were blown up in an explosion after stealing a huge pot of gold. Of the four, one escaped but no one knows which one. The gold was hidden by their mother, who is guarding it and the sons’ four wives in the deserted town of Wagon Mound. Kehoe makes up a story and hides out in Wagon Mound, befriending (and flirting with) each of the McDade widows– untrusting Sabina (Parker), bombshell Birdie (Nichols), sweet natured Oralie (Shane) and feisty Ruby (Willes), leading them on in hopes one of them can lead him to the gold. This is all much to the chagrin of Ma McDade (Van Fleet), who is determined to keep each of the wives virtuous for the one brother who may return.
Gable singing with Jean Willes, Barbara Nichols and Sara Shane
“Sure thing, old timer.” first line
“My trail’s hotter than the Fourth of July!”
“I’m played out. I couldn’t beat my own mother from a standing start. You’re all the luck I’ve got left, good or bad.”
“Eyes like yours, miss, must see beauty wherever they look.”
“For a man who doesn’t have a woman of his own, this is a real treat.”
“Forgive me for staring, miss, but for a second there I thought that bullet had sent me to an angel.”
“All my life I’ve fought violence–fought it with fist and gun.”
“I found out the McDade boys had real different tastes when it comes to women.”
“I never put a dime on anybody but myself. And I haven’t lost yet.”
“Miss Birdie, don’t you ever stop dreaming about the stage. And keep those pretty eyes bright so they’ll always see everything beautiful. And maybe the meek will inherit the earth, Miss Oralie, and a pretty girl always has a good chance so you should be first in line for the golden bucket. Ruby, you’re a danger to the whole race of men but danger’s always a fair price to pay for excitement. It’s been a pleasure, ma’am. And if your husband happens to come back, I’ll envy him. Ma, I’ll always count myself a winner for having known a tough old cougar who knew how to love her sons better than they earned and
how to give a stranger more than he deserved. You’re a rough old buzzard.”
“One day maybe a smarter man than me will ride by this way and relieve you of that gold. If that should happen, don’t feel too bad about it. It didn’t belong to you anyway.”
“Miss Sabina, you’re a woman after my own heart. Tougher than worn leather, smarter than spit and colder than January.”
“This’ll be a rare education.” last line
Behind the Scenes:
The original title was “The Last Man in Wagon Mound”.
Eager to branch out after his separation from MGM, Gable decided to try his hand out as a producer and formed a production company with Jane Russell’s husband, Bob Waterfield. After casting, location scouting, editing and tending to all the minute details of the film in addition to starring in it, he found being a producer too stressful and this film was the only one he ever produced.
Shot on location in St. George, Utah. Gable and wife Kay rented a small bungalow for the duration of the production. Kay kept busy gardening and attending local quilting bees.