From April 1937:
The screen’s most forward sophisticate has evidently learned that yesteryear’s reticence is best for a fine romance. At Paramount there is just no such person as Clark Gable. Carole Lombard is aghast at any suggestion that she be linked in print with Clark. However, at MGM he admits his fondness for her. Carole’s friends say that she’s too much in love to risk any blunders, and silence is her best bet.
Directed by: Robert Wise
Co-stars: Burt Lancaster, Don Rickles, Jack Warden
Synopsis: Gable is Commander Richardson, a steel-willed Navy captain whose submarine is sunk by the Japanese early in World War II. After a year strapped behind a desk, he jumps at the opportunity to command another submarine–much to the chagrin of Lieutenant Bledsoe (Lancaster), who was set to take over the sub. The crew all sides with Bledsoe and resists Richardson’s authority. There is much uproar when the crew of the sub discovers that Richardson has gone off of their planned path to seek revenge on the Japanese sub that blew his up a year before.
Best Gable Quote: “You better put some gin in that lemonade.”
Fun Fact: Clark objected to a scene in which his character makes a rash decision that ends in disaster and because of this, Lancaster’s character takes over the sub. He thought it was not fitting to the character and didn’t like to play the sap. Despite producers’ protests that he had already approved the script with that scene in it, Clark wouldn’t budge. Finally, the script was changed so that instead Clark’s character was injured and unable to command the sub, leaving Lancaster in charge.
My Verdict: This one is kind of like Command Decision in that it’s strictly a man’s picture—no romance, no frilliness, no softness. Unlike Command Decision, this film has some heart and real drama. Clark and Burt didn’t see eye to eye on a lot during the production and I think the tension is apparent. For those bored with war movies, this one certainly won’t change your mind, but it’s a decent war drama. Clark has some great lines and delivers the punch when he should.
In a Nutshell: Teacher’s Pet (1958)
Directed by: George Seaton
Co-stars: Doris Day, Gig Young, Mamie Van Doren
Synopsis: Gable is Jim Gannon, a hard-nosed editor of a New York newspaper. When Professor Erica Stone (Day) requests that Jim speak to her journalism class, he rebuffs her with a sarcastic and mean-spirited letter, saying that people can only learn the newspaper business by working in the newspaper business and classes are a waste of time. When Jim, forced by his boss, goes down to Erica’s class to apologize, she reads the letter aloud to the class before he has the chance to explain himself. Embarrassed but charmed by Erica, he signs up for her class and calls himself Jim Gallagher. He quickly becomes her star pupil and he makes his romantic intentions known. He is, however, involved with a sultry nightclub singer (Van Doren) and she is involved with a know-it-all psychology professor (Young). As their romance is blossoming, Erica goes to Jim’s boss to see if he can arrange a job for her star pupil. It is there that she is faced with the real Jim and learns he has deceived her all along.
Best Gable Quote: “This morning she called me stupid. Well, two weeks ago I’d have belted her. But this morning I say to myself: ‘Why did she call me stupid?’ And the answer came to me like that: Because I am stupid!”
Fun Fact: Gable got along with both of his female costars–Day respected him and Van Doren admitted to having a slight crush on him. The ladies did not, however, get along with each other. Day was apparently quite cold to Van Doren, which she didn’t understand. After Van Doren spoke to the press about Day’s cold treatment of her (while promoting her autobiography), Day refused to spend to speak about Van Doren in interviews from then on.
My Verdict: If you watch just one of Clark’s films from the 1950’s, this one should be it. These are the kind of comedies that Clark should have been doing throughout the decade—not the lackluster war dramas and westerns he was in. The script is hilarious and it’s great to see Clark rolling his eyes and making fun of himself after years of playing the heavy. Doris is another leading lady young enough to be his daughter, but for me the chemistry here works. She is, as always, a delight. The scenes with Clark and Doris with Gig Young at the nightclub are worth the DVD price alone. A must see.
Gone with the Wind hasn’t been getting much [good] press for its 75th anniversary this year, but here’s one way to celebrate the occasion:
The Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum is holding a three day celebration in Georgia, June 6-8! Yours truly will be there, with bells on!
Here’s the itinerary:
FRIDAY, JUNE 6:
11:00-1:30 p.m. $25 (with weekend ticket) $35 (single ticket) The Wind Has Left – Christie Lynn Theatre/Murray Arts Center Live, on stage! Director Connie Sutherland and Producer Chris Sullivan present their version of Gone With the Wind starring Morgan Brittany, Greg Giese, Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis and a host of non-actors (they’re mostly authors). What better way to kick off an event than with the sound of laughter? And, after Rhett no longer gives a damn and Scarlett finds some way to get him back, Morgan, Greg, Patrick and Mickey will come back on stage for an audience Q&A.
3:00-4:30 p.m. $7 pp (with weekend ticket) $10 (single ticket) Wilbur Kurtz Exhibit – Marietta Cobb Museum of ArtConnell and collector Russ Clayton.
7:00-10:30 p.m. $75 pp (with weekend ticket) $85 (single ticket) Gone With the Wind Costume Bazaar Ball and Dinner – Murray Arts Center Grand Lobby Tentative special guest appearance
SATURDAY, JUNE 7:
10:30-12:00 p.m. $30 (with weekend ticket) $35 (single ticket) Curtains and Crinolines: The Costumes of GWTW – Strand Theatre 4th Flooroutfits in Gone With the Wind.
2:00-4:00 p.m. $28 (with weekend ticket) $35 (single ticket) “Vivien” – Theatre in the Square (Home of the Marietta Players) If you haven’t seen this one-woman play starring Judith Chapman (The Young & the Restless) you have missed something truly special. She brings Vivien Leigh to life in her passionate portrayal of the mentally troubled actress whose turn as “Scarlett” in Gone With the Wind is still unsurpassed in the world of motion pictures. The dark years of Leigh’s life and the struggles she endured are met with tenderness and sorrow as her story comes full circle in this amazing portrayal by Ms. Chapman. A meet and greet with Ms. Chapman will follow the 90-minute production. (Note: Theater seats 220 only so do not wait on this one!)
5:30-7:30 pm $35 (with weekend ticket) $40 (single ticket) Author’s Forum – Council Chambers/Marietta City Hall Buildingrelease: The Secret of the Belles 75th Anniversary Edition (new content, photographs, cover art by Joseph Yakovetic); Atlanta: A Photographic Portrait
SUNDAY, JUNE 8:
10:00-11:00 a.m. No Charge Live AuctionThe museum will offer an opportunity to bid on some really great Gone With the Wind memorabilia. Silent auction items will also be available.
11:15 am-1:00 pm (No charge with weekend ticket) $10 (single ticket) Autograph Signing – Marietta Gone With the Wind Museums, prints, or other items. Each volunteer will provide a coupon ticket to anyone who purchases an item or autograph. The celebrity will not autograph any item brought with you if you have not paid for and received a coupon ticket ahead of time.
Discounted Weekend Ticket Price: $200 Individual ticket prices listed above (Total: $250)
Tickets will go on sale Friday, March 21st. Call Connie at 770-794-5145 for yours Due to confirmations not yet received by other invited special guests, times and dates for event activities are subject to change. Venues are also subject to change prior to event if guests are added. Additional costs may be imposed for special guest appearances added to this itinerary. Ticket prices appearing on this itinerary are only for activities shown. The museum does not receive any portion of celebrity imposed fees for items furnished by celebrity and sold at autograph signing. Fees for these items are not set by the museum. Maps to event venues will be included with your ticket packet. Reservations at the Hilton Marietta Hotel and Conference Center may be made by calling 770-427-2500 or by accessing the link below. With either method, please use the group code: GWTW http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/groups/personalized/A/ATLMAHF-GWTW- 20140604/index.jhtml Because everything cannot be held at the museum, the Hilton or the Strand Theatre, transportation will be needed to reach other venues. If you do not have a vehicle please talk with those who do and ask to carpool. Again, maps will be provided in the same packet with your tickets and other information. The museum is not responsible for cancellations by any celebrity, author or other advertised special guest. No refunds will be provided in the event of cancellations due to emergencies by any invited guest.
In a Nutshell: The King and Four Queens (1956)
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Co-stars: Eleanor Powell, Jo Van Fleet, Barbara Nichols, Sara Shane, Jean Wiles
Synopsis: 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.
Best Gable Quote: “Miss Sabina, you’re a woman after my own heart. Tougher than worn leather, smarter than spit and colder than January.”
Fun Fact: 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.
My Verdict: Another color Western, and in this one Clark’s got a handful of women to contend with. This film is nothing really special and it’s rather sexist, with these women all throwing themselves like objects at Clark’s feet, just because he’s the only man around. I think a barking dog could have played Jo Van Fleet’s part just as successfully, and the daughters-in-law are all caricatures, except for Eleanor. Clark is wasted here in a role pretty much any run-of-the-mill actor could have handled.
In a Nutshell: Band of Angels (1957)
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Co-stars: Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney Poitier
Synopsis: In this Civil War epic, De Carlo is Amantha Starr, a Kentucky belle who has lived a life of privilege on her father’s plantation. While she is away at finishing school, her father dies. When she returns for his funeral, she learns that as her father was deep in debt and all his assets are being sold. She is shocked when, as the debt collectors round up his slaves for auction, she is told that she too will be on the auction block. She was never told that her mother, long deceased, was an African American slave. She is immediately put on a boat for New Orleans to be part of a slave auction. Wealthy Hamish Bond (Gable) shows up and wins her for $5,000. At first, she is very unhappy and disagreeable towards Hamish, but soon she grows great affection for him. She turns down his his offer for her to be sent to Cincinnati to be free and joins him instead on his plantation in southern Louisiana. But their romance is doomed when Amantha learns the truth about Hamish’s past.
Best Gable Quote: “You know I know better than most men that money is no cure-all. I used to think it was. I used to think it would open the door to friendship and other essentials more important than power. I used to believe it was everything. A drug for loneliness, a painkiller for certain memories–a whole apothecary shop for every problem of life.”
Fun Fact: The film was a complete flop and was critically panned. It was inevitably compared to Gone with the Wind and critics found the chemistry between Clark and Yvonne de Carlo “absurd.” Although Parnell is usually mentioned as being Clark’s worst and most critically panned film, technically Band of Angels lost more money and received far worse reviews.
My Verdict: Here’s what’s wrong with this film: A flimsy plot (on what planet is Yvonne de Carlo half black?), a humdrum script and lack of zingy chemistry with de Carlo, who was young enough to be his daughter and looked it. I just can’t bring myself to accept the romance in this film. He bought her, dressed her up and pretty much informed her don’t worry, he knows she hates him now, but eventually she’ll give in and sleep with him. And she does. Gee, how romantic. It’s another Clark-the-rogue and it’s not an awful film by any means, but not worthy of being one of Clark’s last.
In an Nutshell: Betrayed (1954)
Directed by: Gottfried Reinhardt
Co-stars: Lana Turner, Victor Mature
Synopsis: Gable is Colonel Pieter Deventer of Dutch Intelligence during World War II. He trains Carla Van Oven (Turner) to be the liaison between the British and the local resistance movement, led by a spunky rogue called “The Scarf” (Mature). Before she is put into position Pieter and Carla begin a romance. The team starts to suffer heavy losses after she joins them and Pieter begins to suspect she is a Nazi spy, while at the same time Carla begins to suspect The Scarf.
Best Gable Quote: “You stupid, whimpering fool. No, I’m the fool. You are what you always were.”
Fun Fact: Gable’s last film for MGM, after being a contract player there for 23 years. His box office had been faltering and MGM did not want to renew his $500,000 contract. Gable was also anxious to branch out and pursue his own projects.
My Verdict: Really, the only reason this film is memorable is that it is Clark’s last film for MGM. It’s slow-paced and rather tedious, with long periods of not much going on. The characters are underdeveloped and the script mediocre. It didn’t do well at the box office at the time, probably because people were flocking to see high-energy, colorful musicals, not drab war dramas. Lana is wasted here, trying to prove she can do drama without much sexpot. It is one of Clark’s few color pictures, so it has that going for it. That and not much else.
In a Nutshell: Soldier of Fortune (1955)
Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
Co-stars: Susan Hayward, Gene Barry
Synopsis: 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.
Best Gable Quote: “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.”
Fun Fact: 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.
My Verdict: Another one of Clark’s few color films. This one is kind of a typical 1950’s espionage thriller, and there’s not much spectacular about it. Clark is good in what he has to work with, but you can’t help but think that the Clark from twenty years earlier would probably have been better equipped at manning cannons and romancing Susan Hayward. I think this one is truly a man’s film, of which I am not, so perhaps it is lost on me. I met a man in his 60’s a few years ago who eagerly wanted to talk Clark Gable with me, and this was his favorite film. He talked about it at length and said he watches it at least twice a year. So to each his own, I guess!
In a Nutshell: The Tall Men (1955)
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Co-stars: Jane Russell, Robert Ryan
Synopsis: Gable is Ben Allison, who along with his brother (Cameron Mitchell), join a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in 1866, headed by Nathan (Robert Ryan). En route, they save Nella (Jane Russell) from an Indian attack and she joins them on the journey. Ben and Nella share a cabin to ride out a blizzard and fall in love. Soon they realize that they have different futures in mind–Ben wants a ranch and a small family life, while Nella wants excitement–and they part ways, not amicably. Nella cozies up to Nathan and tension arises for the rest of the journey
Best Gable Quote: “You know something, when a woman looks pretty at sun-up then she’s really pretty.” (I really like that quote)
Fun Fact: Shot on location in Durango, Mexico
My Verdict: I am not really the biggest fan of Westerns, and this one is certainly not the greatest one ever made. Clark is looking pretty good in color here, although the black hair dye is a bit much! Jane Russell is sexy as always, and her and Clark’s playful banter and sniping at each other calls back to him and Ava Gardner. Although this one’s not so much a romance as a rootin’ tootin’ cattle drivin’ Indian shootin’ Western. It is what it’s supposed to be.
From March 1937:
A young lady we know experienced the double thrill of being rescued from a predicament by Clark Gable, and of being mistaken by him for Carol [sic] Lombard, all on the same afternoon.
Stranded on the roadside by motor trouble, the attractive blonde girl was just about to go for help when Clark drove up. First he apologized for mistaking her for Carol [sic], and then pushed her ailing car down the street a few blocks to a garage.
Prior to that adventure the young lady’s favorite actor was Clark Gable. He’s still her favorite actor.
Clark Gable hated anything that he felt was frivoulous about film making. He wanted to just show up, read his lines and go home. He didn’t like taking promotional stills or messing with endless wardrobe fittings. It was part of the job, but he didn’t have to like it. The costumes in Gone with the Wind were a sore spot with Clark. When he first showed up to film, despite endless fittings, his costumes didn’t fit right. He already disliked wearing period garb and his long hair was annoying to him as well. I think you can tell from these stills taken from wardrobe and Technicolor tests for that he is less than thrilled. The only ones in which he doesn’t come across as thoroughly irritated are the ones with Vivien Leigh!
In a Nutshell: Never Let Me Go (1953)
Directed by: Delmer Daves
Co-stars: Gene Tierney
Synopsis: Gable is Philip Sutherland, an American war correspondent stationed in Moscow. He falls in love with Marya (Tierney), a Russian ballet dancer. After they wed, Philip receives orders to ship back to the United States, but they find that the Russian government will not grant Marya a passport to leave Russia. When Philip is tricked into leaving without her, he sets about forming a plan to smuggle her out of Russia.
Best Gable Quote: “When the time comes for me to go, you go with me or I don’t go at all.”
Fun Fact: Shot entirely in London, the coast of Cornwall and at MGM’s British studios. Filmed during a near-two year period in which Gable was overseas, filming also Betrayed (in Holland) and Mogambo (in Africa).
My Verdict: I didn’t like this one very much the first time I saw it, but it is one of those that I like a little bit more each time I see it. Although Gene was young enough to be Clark’s daughter, the romance here is very sweet and it is packed with suspense. I’ve always wished that they showed more of their relationship before they were thrust apart, just for dramatic effect, but that may just be me. Enjoyable film.
In a Nutshell: Mogambo (1953)
Directed by: John Ford
Co-stars: Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Donald Sinden
Synopsis: 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.
Best Gable Quote: “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–”
Fun Fact: 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.
My Verdict: I don’t really like to think of this as the remake of Red Dust, because I think the two films stand by themselves as different entities. While Red Dust was a steamy romance, Mogambo is more an adventure romance. Being shot on location in Africa, the settings are absolutely beautiful and certainly beat MGM-crafted jungles. Clark is very distinguished-looking here and tan—you don’t blame Ava and Grace one bit. He’s got chemistry with both, the script is great and there is no shortage of action and adventure.
In a Nutshell: Across the Wide Missouri (1951)
Directed by: William Wellman
Co-stars: Ricardo Montalban, Adolphe Menjou
Synopsis: Gable is Flint Mitchell, a fur trapper from Kentucky leading a group of French and Scottish trappers through the rugged West in the 1820′s. Battling Blackfoot Indians all the way, especially their chief Ironshirt (Montalban), he finds love with an Indian chief’s granddaughter (portrayed by Mexican actress Maria Elena Marques).
Best Gable Quote: “You’re full of magic…the one woman in the world for me and I love you, pigeon. Maybe I didn’t know it when I found you but I know it now. You can’t understand what I’m trying to tell you and I don’t understand much you say. Someday, maybe.”
Fun Fact: Test audiences reacted negatively to the film, especially its bloated 135-minute running time. It was then edited down to 76 minutes and a narrator was added to fill in any plot holes that resulted. MGM musical star Howard Keel read the narration, uncredited.
My Verdict: Not the best Western in the world, but not really the worst. Clark looks quite handsome in this, his first color picture since GWTW. His hair is dyed dark black and he’s deeply tanned and in shape. The plot is a pretty basic Western one–cowboys vs. Indians–and the romance borders on creepy considering his wife is sold to him like a piece of meat and can’t speak English! Clark does what he can with the material.
In a Nutshell: Lone Star (1952)
Directed by: Vincent Sherman
Co-stars: Ava Gardner, Broderick Crawford
Synopsis: In this semi-factual historical western, Gable is Devereaux Burke, a cattle baron enlisted by President Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) in 1845 to help convince Texas to become part of the United States. Gable encounters newspaperwoman Martha Ronda (Gardner) and her beau, Senator Thomas Craden (Crawford) who want Texas to become its own republic. Devereaux and Martha soon fall in love despite their differing opinions and he prepares for a final showdown with Craden.
Best Gable Quote: “It’s convenient to have a woman you can take for granted. Not very exciting but convenient. I’ve never been that lucky.”
Fun Fact: The last film of the legendary Lionel Barrymore, who was wheelchair bound. Sherman and Gable both convinced him to take the small role of President Andrew Jackson.
My Verdict: Not very good. Rather boring and tedious. The best scenes are the ones between Ava and Clark, who snap and crackle with chemistry, but even they can save this dull plot and plodding script. Clark’s worst Western.
From December 1938:
[Clark Gable's] favorite ambition is to make enough money to travel three years, then relax. I asked him, how would he relax? Just sit still? He said no. He’d relax with raising animals an’ feeding ‘em an’ taking care of ‘em and building fences an’ anything outdoors, because even if it was hard work, he’d think it was fun. Me too.
Spencer Tracy’s his favorite actor. Looks like pretty near everybody’s favorite acttor’s Spencer Tracy. And, oh, gosh, it was the cutest thing. When I said, “What’s your favorite hobby?” he said, “Carole Lombard.” When I said, “Who’s your favorite actress?” he said, “Carole Lombard.” When I said, “Who’s your favorite lady in all the world?” he said, “Carole Lombard.” An’ he said it with that cute grin on his face. Boy, he sure was unanimous about Carole.
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