I love Warner Brothers Archive Collection! Thanks to them, the majority of Clark’s films are available to us fans for our home viewing pleasure. And FINALLY they have just released a few of the missing titles: After Office Hours (1935) with Constance Bennett! Buy it here. Hell Divers (1931) with Wallace Beery! Buy it here. Parnell (1937) with Myrna Loy! Buy it here.
In a Nutshell: After Office Hours (1935)
Directed by: Robert Z. Leonard
Co-stars: Constance Bennett, Billie Burke, Harvey Stephens
Synopsis: Gable is fast-talking, take-no-prisoners-newspaper editor Jim Branch, who is determined to dig up a juicy story on a corrupt millionaire. He starts sucking up to the newspaper’s music reviewer, wealthy socialite Sharon Norwood (Bennett), when he discovers she is close to the impending story. After the millionaire’s wife turns up dead, Sharon and Jim disagree on the culprit. Jim becomes determined to crack the case and reunite with Sharon, whom he has now fallen in love with.
Best Gable Quote: “You mean I’ve got to get out and walk home–like a girl?” (That line always makes me laugh, it’s so absurd)
Fun Fact: Constance Bennett was quite flirty with Gable during filming. He ignored her for the most part, thinking her a prima donna. He had not forgotten how poorly she had treated him when he was a bit player and she was the star in The Easiest Way.
My Verdict: Rather humdrum, forced newspaper comedy that wants to be It Happened One Night but isn’t. Bennett and Gable have no sparks. The murder plot meanders so much and their romance is so forced that in the end the whole film seems run of the mill. This one is forgettable. Not awful, but forgettable.
In a Nutshell: Call of the Wild (1935)
Directed by: William Wellman
Co-stars: Loretta Young, Jack Oakie
Synopsis: Gable is Jack Thornton, on the hunt for a gold mine through the tundra with his sidekick Shorty (Oakie). As they struggle through the mountains in the bitter cold, they encounter Claire Blake (Young) who is stranded alone after her husband left her to search for food. They discover that Claire and her husband were after the same gold mine. Aided by their trusty dog Buck, they find the mine and along the way Claire and Jack fall in love. Their happiness is short-lived, however, as Claire’s husband reappears and a rival turns up to claim the mine as his own.
Best Gable Quote: “I wanted you. And I took you with us. Well, I’m keeping you.”
Fun Fact: Gable and Young had an affair during filming. Only the cast and crew of the film knew about it then and the affair ended after filming wrapped. Young became pregnant and had the baby, a girl named Judy, on November 6, 1935. Gable never admitted parentage and Young put the child in an orphanage and then “adopted” her months later. She only admitted the truth to Judy in the 1990′s, shortly before her death. Judy wrote a book about the experience being the secret love child of two classic stars, called Uncommon Knowledge. Read more about it here.
My Verdict: The scandal surrounding the filming of this movie is what draws people to it nowadays, I think. And with that Loretta Young romance being considered, it is definitely an essential for Gable fans to see. But all that aside, this atill stands as a really good film. The Washington location shoot and its bitter cold may have been less than ideal shooting conditions but they definitely add perfect ambiance, as too many times did the studios throw together a film like this on their backlot and the outcome is less than ideal. Loretta and Clark are so sweet together and their scenes together just sparkle. Being a dog lover myself, I like Clark scenes with Buck, as he is just a natural with animals and it shows. This is not the most faithful adaptation of Jack London’s classic novel, but it’s a delightful film and a must see.
This month, Clark Gable is a rogue newspaperman (again) and Constance Bennett is a snooty socialite in After Office Hours.
Clark is fast-talking, take-no-prisoners-newspaper editor Jim Branch, who is determined to dig up a juicy story on a corrupt millionaire. He starts sucking up to the newspaper’s music reviewer, wealthy socialite Sharon Norwood (Bennett), when he discovers she is close to the impending story. After the millionaire’s wife turns up dead, Sharon and Jim disagree on the culprit. Jim becomes determined to crack the case and reunite with Sharon, whom he has now fallen in love with.
The plot is silly. The rogue newspaperman falling for the snooty rich girl was done far, far better in It Happened One Night. And I don’t particularly like Clark’s look in this film. Half the time his hat is too small and he is in the phase of that really thin, perfectly groomed little mustache that didn’t become him at all.
Here, it is a bit unbelievable that Clark would fall for Connie. It’s one of those “one minute he hates her, one minute he’s proposing” pictures with no real development. And they get married at the end, when just moments before she was mad at him.
Sorry Clark and Connie, but William Powell and Myrna Loy are far better sleuths at murder mysteries! This one seems like a hackneyed, quickie attempt at a Thin Man ripoff. Pretty laughable is a scene the morning after the murder in which Clark and a newspaper photographer easily get into the scene of the crime and walk around the crime scene! How ridiculous.
Clark does a fine role, but it’s one he’s done before. I don’t think that Connie is one of his better leading ladies. I have never been a very big fan of hers–I just always find her cold. Here it is no different; I wonder if I would like the plot better if Myrna Loy or Jean Harlow were in her part. Maybe.
Always enjoyable is twittering Billie Burke, who is at her flouncing best as Connie’s mother.
Particularly in the last scene, where is is appalled that Clark seems to have spent the night in her daughter’s bedroom! The very idea!