In a Nutshell: The Easiest Way (1931)

constance bennett clark gable anita page the easiest way

Directed by: Jack Conway

Co-stars: Constance Bennett, Adolphe Menjou, Robert Montgomery, Anita Page

Synopsis: In this scandalous pre-code, Lolly Murdock (Bennett) is a young woman anxious to escape her impoverished family. She quickly realizes that the easiest way to do that is by being “kept” by rich men. She begins an affair with afluent businessman William (Menjou), who keeps her in furs and expensive jewels.  Although this brings her the riches and lifestyle she has always dreamed of, it alienates her from the man she really loves (Montgomery) and her family. Especially her sister, Peg (Page), who married hard-working blue collar Nick (Gable), who bans Lolly from their house for her indecent behavior.

Best Gable Quote: “I ain’t stuck on having you drive up here in your fine cars and limousines. We ain’t limousine people.”

Fun Fact: Anita Page claimed that she and Clark had an affair during filming.

My Verdict: An enjoyable little pre-code, full of scandal and innuendo. Clark’s role isn’t juicy; he’s the good boy scout, but the film itself is a great slice of 1931, before films were censored from such “indecency!”mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in October 2012.

 

In a Nutshell: Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)

clark gable joan crawford dance fools dance

Directed by: Harry Beaumont

Co-stars: Joan Crawford, Lester Vail

Synopsis: Crawford is Bonnie Jordan, a rich girl suddenly thrown into the real world after her father dies and she finds out all his money is gone. She goes to work as a writer for the local newspaper. One of her assignments is to go undercover and get a story on a gangster, Jake (Gable). As Jake pursues her romantically, Bonnie finds out that her unscrupulous brother Rodney (William Bakewell) has hooked up with Jake’s gang and is in deep trouble.

Best Gable Quote: “You’re going to have a little supper with me tonight. Upstairs in my room. We’ve got to get better acquainted.”

Fun Fact: Gable’s role was beefed up with more scenes to capitalize on his growing fame.  After seeing their chemistry, producer Irving Thalberg insisted more scenes be added between Gable and Crawford. Their undeniable chemistry certainly had something to do with the fact that the two stars were in the midst of a heated affair!

My Verdict: Not the best pre-code in the world, but certainly not the worst. Clark’s character is the typical one-dimensional bad guy and this role was a dime a dozen for Joan. mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

Ratings

clark gable anita page the easiest way

This month is an eighth-billed, mustache-less Clark Gable as a noble laundryman in The Easiest Way.

In this scandalous pre-code, Laura Murdock (Constance Bennett) is a young woman anxious to escape her impoverished family. She quickly realizes that the easiest way to do that is by being “kept” by rich men. She begins an affair with afluent businessman William (Adolphe Menjou), who keeps her in furs and expensive jewels.  Although this brings her the riches and lifestyle she has always dreamed of, it alienates her from the man she really loves (Robert Montgomery) and her family. Especially her sister, Peg (Anita Page), who married hard-working blue collar Nick (Clark Gable), who bans Laura from their house for her indecent behavior.

clark gable robert montgomery constance bennett adolphe menjou

The theme of this film was pretty common for the era but is very outdated now. Laura is having sex with a man without being married to him and in return he lavishes her with anything she desires. As a result, her mother will have nothing to do with her, calling her immoral. The only members of her family willing to speak to her are her lazy drunk father, who doesn’t care where the money is coming from as long as it’s coming in, and her sister Peg who tries very hard to have a relationship with her despite her husband forbidding it. You don’t see many people turning their backs on family members for having sex with or living with men out of wedlock nowadays!

anita page clark gable the easiest way

I find Constance Bennett rather cold and her expressions tend to range from about A to C. Robert Montgomery is his usual buoyant self, and you feel badly that his heart is broken by Laura. Adolphe Menjou is young looking here and is playing a role he played very well and quite often–the rich businessman. I find it rather funny that the film makes Adolphe out to be some kind of villain. Sure, it isn’t right to essentially pay a woman to sleep with you and not marry her, but he is kind of a victim as well, since Constance uses him then drops him like a hot potato then comes begging when she needs more money, then is willing to leave him again at a drop of a hat. Guess that’s the risk you take by not marrying the girl!

clark gable constance bennett anita page the easiest wayclark gable anita page the easiest way

clark gable constance bennett anita page

This of course being a pre-code, Constance’s Laura must pay for her sins. She can not have a happily ever after. She must lose everything in the end, as bad girls should! The last scene of the film, where Nick takes in his immoral sister-in-law on Christmas Eve, is pretty much the only semblance of a Christmas scene Clark ever filmed.

clark gable anita page clark gable the easiest way

Clark and Anita represent the “right way” of doing things. Clark starts out just driving the laundry truck as he saves money to marry Anita. By the end of the picture he owns his own laundry business and the couple has a nice home and a chubby toddler. Constance’s way up the ladder is “the easiest,” but not the proper way, scolds the film.

clark gable constance bennett the easiest way

It’s rather funny that while Clark plays the noble and hard-working everyman in this picture, later this same year he is the rich man with the mistress in Possessed. And while he’s eighth billed in this one, he’s second billed in Possessed!

clark gable anita page the easiest way

Clark looks rather hunky here, all young and chiseled and rather brutish. His scenes with Anita Page are very sweet. His voice is a tad higher than usual, something he worked the kinks out of by the end of the year.

clark gable the easiest way

clark gable the easiest way

Just four years later, Constance Bennett would be Clark Gable’s leading lady in the lackluster After Office Hours. Apparently on the set of The Easiest Way, Constance was quite the diva and ignored Clark and Anita between takes. When they filmed After Office Hours and Clark was more on Constance’s star level, she practically threw himself at him. Clark despised diva behavior and hadn’t forgotten; he rebuffed her and the set was rather chilly.

clark gable anita page the easiest way

Anita Page died just a few years ago and spoke fondly of Clark and their lone picture together. She claims they had an affair during filming.

clark gable the easiest wayThe Easiest Way is available on DVD. You can see over 100 pictures from the film in the gallery.