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.
From August 1934:
A fist fight almost marred Sam Goldwyn’s bridge party when Gilbert Roland misunderstood a remark made to his escort, charming Constance Bennett, by Clark Gable.
Connie and Clark were playing at the same table when the latter uttered the words that so aroused Gilbert, seated nearby, and caused him to leap from his chair, remove his coat, and shout at Gable, “You quit picking on her and pick on me!”
But all’s well that ends well!
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.
In a Nutshell: The Easiest Way (1931)
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!”
In a Nutshell: Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
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!
From August 1935:
Clark Gable has been hunting again–with that grand new rifle of his, which has gold sights and mountings that catch the sunlight and warn any animal within range that he is on its trail. The plan to have his debutante stepdaughter, Georgiana, screentested seems to be in abeyance at the moment. We understand that Clark is wholly in favor of the idea, but wants to take the tests with her and have her gowned by Adrian first.
Remember the first time you saw Clark Gable in a picture with Connie Bennett? He played the part of the milkman in “The Easiest Way.” And if you will recall how good he was and how this started him off to stardom, you’ll have to admit it was the easiest way.
Soooooooo…Time marches on! Skip a few years and here we have Gable in another picture with Bennett…it’s called “Town Talk” and we’d wager a few doughnuts that there will be at least one critic who will refer to it as a “Gable Picture” with Connie Bennett! Tsch, tsch..how times do change!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
About a year before Cupid struck, Clark and Carole were having a grand time one night at the Trocadero Club—just at different tables. Carole seemed to only have eyes for her date, screenwriter Robert Riskin (he penned It Happened One Night).
Meanwhile Clark and Ria were double-dating with Constance Bennett and her beau, Gilbert Roland.
One wonders if they stopped by each other’s tables to say hello!
While Clark left Ria very soon after this picture was taken, Connie and Gilbert were married in 1941, after being called out for “acting married while being unmarried” in the infamous article that called out Clark and Carole for the same offense: “Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and Wives.”
If you’ve read any biography of Clark or Carole, you’ll come across a mention of a certain Photoplay Magazine article titled “Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and Wives”. This seemingly innocent article caused quite an earthquake among the studios. It lists Hollywood couples who conduct themselves as if they are married—but they aren’t! The article scolds:
And that, it seems, would point a lesson to the unique coterie of Hollywood’s unwed couples—Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, who could get married if they really wanted to; George Raft and Virginia Pine, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable and the other steady company couples who might swing it if they tried a little harder. You can’t take your happiness with you.
For nobody, not even Hollywood’s miracle men, has ever improved on the good old-fashioned, satisfying institution of holy matrimony. And, until something better comes along, the best way to hunt happiness when you’re in love in Hollywood or anywhere else—is with a preacher, a marriage license and a bagful of rice.
You can read the article in its entirety here as it is the latest addition to the ever-growing Article Archive.
This article and the resulting public uproar sped up the marriage plans of Clark and Carole (much to MGM’s urging) and led to their March 1939 nuptials.
What became of the other couples mentioned in the article?
Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck felt the pressure from the studio as well and were married on May 13, 1939 after months of speculation. Close friends of Clark and Carole, their union seemed happy for many years. But apparently not always. Barbara filed for divorce, supposedly tired of Bob’s cheating, and it was granted on February 21, 1951. Barbara never remarried. Bob married actress Ursula Theiss in 1954 and they had two children.
George Raft and Virginia Pine (pictured with her daughter Joan) never did make it to the altar. I’m not sure when exactly they broke up, but I do know that by late 1939 George and widowed Norma Shearer were the hot couple of the moment. And after their breakup, George courted Clark’s ex-wife Ria for a bit! By 1942, George was hot and heavy with Betty Grable. Despite his many high profile romances, he remained married to Grace Mulroney from 1923 until her death in 1970.
Gilbert Roland became Constance Bennett’s husband #4 in April of 1941. Their marriage lasted until 1946, and they had two daughters. She married an Army Colonel two days after her divorce from Gilbert was final. Gilbert remarried in 1954.
Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard were a complicated pair. Together for a few years, they remained mum on their relationship status and seemed to be unmarried and living together. Charlie sent shockwaves through the gossip columns when he called Paulette his wife at the premiere of his film “The Great Dictator” in 1940. But they never could produce a marriage certificate and no reporter could dig one up either. Supposedly, this inability to prove she was married to the man she was living with is what caused Paulette to be eliminated from consideration for her dream role, Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”. Married or not, by 1942, they were through. Charlie married 17-year-old Oona O’Neill in 1943 and they had eight children.Paulette went on to marry actor Burgess Meredith in 1944 and writer Erich Remarque in 1958. She also dated Clark after her separation from Meredith in 1948.