Let’s have a look at some of the beautiful photos from Saratoga (1937).  Taken at face value, Saratoga is not a spectacular film. It has become infamous because it was Jean Harlow’s final film–in fact she died of kidney failure before it was completed, at the young age of 26.

When it came time to take publicity photos for the film, Jean was so weak she could hardly hold herself up. That is why in these beautiful pictures, Jean is laying down, leaning on Clark or being held up by him.

clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga clark gable jean harlow saratoga

Jean and Clark were good buddies and always had fun on the set. Clark was devastated by her death

Let's have a look at some of the beautiful photos from Saratoga (1937).  Taken at face value, Saratoga is not a spectacular film. It has become infamous because it was Jean Harlow's final film--in fact she died of kidney failure before it was completed, at the young age of 26.  When it came time to take publicity photos for the film, Jean was so weak she could hardly hold herself up. That is why in these beautiful pictures, Jean is laying down, leaning on Clark or being held up by him. Let's have a look at some of the beautiful photos from Saratoga (1937).  Taken at face value, Saratoga is not a spectacular film. It has become infamous because it was Jean Harlow's final film--in fact she died of kidney failure before it was completed, at the young age of 26.  When it came time to take publicity photos for the film, Jean was so weak she could hardly hold herself up. That is why in these beautiful pictures, Jean is laying down, leaning on Clark or being held up by him.

saratoga15saratoga134

clark gable jean harlow saratoga

Let's have a look at some of the beautiful photos from Saratoga (1937).  Taken at face value, Saratoga is not a spectacular film. It has become infamous because it was Jean Harlow's final film--in fact she died of kidney failure before it was completed, at the young age of 26.  When it came time to take publicity photos for the film, Jean was so weak she could hardly hold herself up. That is why in these beautiful pictures, Jean is laying down, leaning on Clark or being held up by him.

Some memorable screenshots:

Saratoga 2 Saratoga 2 Saratoga 3 Saratoga 3 Saratoga 3 Saratoga 3 Saratoga 4 Saratoga 6 Saratoga 6 Saratoga 6 Saratoga 6 Saratoga 6 Saratoga 10

Today, here’s some photos from one of my very favorite Clark Gable films, Hold Your Man (1933).

Adorable publicity shots with Jean Harlow:

clark gable jean harlow hold your man

clark gable jean harlow hold your man clark gable jean harlow hold your man clark gable jean harlow hold your man clark gable jean harlow hold your man

clark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your man clark gable jean harlow hold your man

Clark and Jean were buddies and it really shows. It is remarkable how much sexual chemistry they have but yet they were like playful brother and sister when the cameras weren’t rolling.

On the set:

clark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your manclark gable jean harlow hold your man

And some Clark closeups:

clark gable jean harlow hold your man Hold 2 Hold 2 Hold 3 Hold 4 Hold 5 Hold 9 Hold 9

clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind

This week, featured is another article from the archive, Gone with the Wind Indeed!, Photoplay magazine, March 1937. This article is all about the pressing issue of casting the great civil war epic:

Time was when you could call a man a rat in Hollywood and get yourself a stiff poke in the nose. But now what you get is–”Rhett? Rhett Butler? Well–I don’t know about that ‘profile like an old coin’ stuff, but I’ve been told I am rather masterful and–” Yes and there was a day when you could call a woman scarlet in this town and find yourself looking into the business end of a male relative’s shotgun. But now it’s–”Scarlett? Scarlett O’Hara? Oh, do you really think so? Well, I wish you’d say that around Mr. Selznick. Of course, my eyes aren’t exactly green, but unless they use Technicolor–”

Ever since that very small but very un-Reconstructed Rebel, Mistress Peggy Mitchell, of the Atlanta Mitchells, wrote a book called “Gone with the Wind”, which went like a seventy-mile gale over the country and whipped up a grade-A tornado, a civil war, the like of which Jeff Davis never dreamed, has been raging uncontrolled way out in Hollywood.

Houses are divided, brother against brother, husband against wife, butler versus pantry maid.

“Why, Judge,” a woman told the court the other day, “this bum says the only man to play Rhett Butler is Warren William. How can I go on living with a cretin like that?”

“Yeah,” countered the defendant, “and, Your Honor, she embarrassed me before my friends plugging for Ronald Coleman. Ronald Coleman–imagine! My business dropped off.” “Divorce granted,” murmured the court, “although personally I’ve always thought Gary Cooper would be a natural for the part.”

Who will win? Well–here are the favorites, complete with clockings, handicaps, and pole positions. You pay your money and you take your choice:

Ladies first, which means Rhett Butler–

Clark Gable is the odds on favorite. He probably will play the part. If he doesn’t there may be a Revolution. The nationwide choice, by a wide margin, he runs neck-and-neck with Warner Baxter in the South, which, incidentally, will have plenty to say about the casting of this picture. Gable is also the big Hollywood favorite, although if you can’t see him you can’t see him at all. It’s that way. Letters have poured in threatening boycotts and reprisals (honest) if he’s cast as Rhett. The same if he isn’t.

Clark is the right age, the perfect build, the effective sex quotient. On a very touchy point–whether or not he can put on a Southern accent and wear it becomingly–he is doubtful. He would give a year of his life to play Rhett–why not? It would be the biggest money gland his career could conceivably manage.

But–Gable is among the most jealously hoarded of MGM stars. And Selznick International, not MGM, copped this prize story of the century. MGM turned it down! Selznick International means John Hay Whitney and David Oliver Selznick. But again–David Oliver Selznick is married to Louis B. Mayer’s daughter. Would Gable be available? What do you think?

Frederic March is the only actor so far officially tested for Rhett. Was the early choice, but seems to have faded in the back stretch. Would be available, eager and willing to play Rhett on a moment’s notice. Runs about third in the terrific straw balloting which increases every day. Is regarded by millions as a great actor–many others do not agree. Played the other great sensational best seller title part, “Anthony Adverse.” Consensus of opinion is that Frederic would be an adequate Rhett, but that’s all. Lacks the sinister sex considered absolutely essential to a great performance.

Warner Baxter has surprising support from Atlanta and the deep South. Is the best “sympathy” actor in the race. His recent sock hit in “To Mary–With love” is considered an apt build-up. Warner has the strong support of all who picture Rhett Butler as a man who suffered and suffered. Is keeping his fingers crossed day and night because if he landed it would be “In Old Arizona” all over again for him. His contract, of course, is with Twentieth Century Fox, which makes him eligible. Darryl Zanuck who is a borrower of stars in the talent market wouldn’t dare bite the hand that feeds him and keep him locked in the closet. Warner, too, is about the right age, a little on the oldish side. His weakness, too, is no powerful sex appeal.

Ronald Colman popped into the running through an erroneous press dispatch. But once in has remained a strong contender. Chief advantage is his spot as long term contract star with Selznick International, his decided romantic charm, suavity, age and sympathetic personality. Chief disadvantage is ever-lovin’ Britishness, hard for the folks down South to swallow when the story is almost a sectional issue.

Those are the favorites. But Cary Grant, Basil Rathbone, Edward Arnold haven’t given up yet.

Now gents–it’s your turn.

For Scarlett O’Hara–

Tallulah Bankhead–shared the same bum steer announcement that brought Ronald Coleman in. Was tested by Selznick twice, once in Hollywood while on the stage in “Reflected Glory.” It was a simple color test but it gave the newshawks ideas. Tested again in New York by Director George Cukor. Is a professional choice, being considered the best actress of all candidates. Would satisfy Dixie, hailing originally from Alabama. Her pappy represents the state as Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington. Talu could probably recapture a sugar-lipped drawl, all right, buy the years and an aura of sophistication are against her. The part would be like long delayed manna from Heaven for her, bestowing the great screen break her rooters have long wailed has been denied a great artiste. Only a lukewarm choice in the popular response. But vigorously opposed by an opinionated minority.

Miriam Hopkins is the red hot choice of Atlanta and the South. Leads other actresses by a nice margin in the letter deluge. One reason, she hails from Bainbridge, Georgia, right close to home. Is a good subject for color, if it is used, except she’ll have to wear a wig. Played Becky Sharp, the character generally compared to Scarlett O’Hara, but that might work against her.

Bette Davis is the number one Hollywood selection. Just missed cinching the part by a matter of minutes. On her way to England, Bette was told by Warner’s New York story board they were buying a great story for her, “Gone with the Wind.” But by the time they wired Hollywood for an okay, the hammer had dropped. The day His Majesty’s courts decided that Bette was a “naughty girl” and “must go back to jail” her low spirits were lifted by a columnist’s clipping calling her the ideal Miss O’Hara. Answers to Scarlett now around the Warner lot. Bette is the only Yankee girl to score below that well-known line. Ranks third in the Cotton Belt. Is considered to be just the right age to handle the assignment and blessed with the right amount of–er–nastiness. No complaints from the home folks on her southern accent in “Cabin in the Cotton” or as Alabama Follansbee in “The Solid South” (stage).

But–Bette is in the doghouse chained and collared, and one of the main issues of her legal whipping was her loan out demand. Warners can–probably would keep her in the cooler. Selznick, in fact, is supposed to have said, “Bette Davis? Great–but could we get her?”

Margaret Sullavan holds the second spot in returns from down yonder. Is a Virginia girl, and knows what to do when a lady meets a gentleman down South. Handed brilliantly the lead in “So Red the Rose”, another Civil War picture. Fractious and fiery enough to make Scarlett a vivid character. Tagged next to Bette Davis in Hollywood.

And the Field–Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert and Jean Harlow.

Now as if puzzling about all this were not enough to set a body weaving baskets in the clink, Messrs. Selznick and Company announce that they want for Scarlett and Rhett not Hollywood stars at all. No–instead they have arranged to canvass all the finishing schools of Dixie, and ogle Junior Leaguers at the very lovely teas and discover and “unknown” Scarlett. A similar search, minus the tea, is hoped to dig up an indigenous Rhett.

Thus, they say, everything will not only be peaches and cream for professional Southerners, but what is much more important, two brand new stars will be born. Why take other studio’s stars and build them? Isn’t this going to be the greatest picture of all time?

Well–as to the first idea–it’s great if it works, is the opinion of the Hollywood wise ones. But it won’t work, they say. Whom are you going to find in the sticks to handle parts like those? Whom could you dare gamble on?

And that “greatest picture of all time” stuff. It smacks strongly, I grant you, of the old mahoskus. It’s press agent oil of the most ready viscosity and has flowed freely around every epic from “The Great Train Robbery” to Shirley Temple’s latest cutrick. But this time the answer that snaps right back out of your own skeptic brain is, “Why not?”

These gentlemen–Whitney and Selznick–have, and they know what they have, the greatest screen story of our day. If you don’t think so, here’s the cold cash proof: The day after they laid $50,000 on the line for the picture rights, another studio offered them $100,000. The next offer was boosted to $250,000. The last bid, not long ago, was $1,500,000 and an interest in the picture besides! Tie that.

They said “No” and they are still saying the same. Mr. Whitney and Mr. Selznick are not ribbon clerks. They shot $2,200,000 on “The Garden of Allah.” They will pinch no pennies on “Gone with the Wind”. If color will help it (and it probably will) they’ll shoot and extra million. Sidney Howard is writing the script. George Cukor will direct. Walter Plunkett is designing costumes. These men are all top flight.

So you can reasonably be sure of this–when you finally see “Gone with the Wind” you’ll see a picture dressed in the best trappings of modern production, primed with meticulous preparation, artistic thoroughness and as many millions as it can comfortably stand.

But as for who will be Scarlett and who will be Rhett–well, the riot squads are doing a nice business, thank you. And good citizens of Hollywood scowl across Cahuenga Pass at North Hollywood muttering. “Dam’ Yanks!” While out in Beverly Hills the South Side of the Tracks is threatening to secede if somebody will only fire on the Brown Derby.

It looks as if we’ll fight it out on this line if it takes all summer. Everybody’s welcome, and usually it doesn’t require a second invitation. Just casually mention the subject. You’ll see. Matter of the fact, the only person I can think of offhand who doesn’t seem to be at all upset about the matter is the lady who wrote the book.

Early in the fray, Margaret Mitchell allowed it would be nice if a Southern girl could play Scarlett. But the reaction was so violent that it must have surprised her. At any rate she announced the other day it was her one desire to remain only as the humble author, and to a close friend she confided:

“I don’t care what they do to ‘Gone with the Wind’ in Hollywood. Just so they don’t make General Lee win the war for a happy ending!”

These choices really crack me up. JEAN HARLOW?? CARY GRANT?? EDWARD ARNOLD?? CLAUDETTE COLBERT?? Really atrocious.

You can read the article in its entirety in the Article Archive.

 

In a Nutshell: Saratoga (1937)

clark gable jean harlow saratoga

Directed by: Jack Conway

Co-stars: Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Una Merkel

Synopsis: Gable is Duke Bradley, a bookie who acquires the deed to the Brookdale horse ranch because the owner, Mr. Clayton (Jonathan Hale) owes him a lot of money. When Clayton dies, his daughter Carol (Harlow), who dislikes Bradley, is determined to get the horse ranch back in the family by winning horse races to pay Bradley back. Meanwhile, Bradley tries to bait Carol’s rich fiancée (Pidgeon) to place bets with him.

Best Gable Quote: “This is more work than I’ve done for a woman since my mother.”

Not-So-Fun Fact: Harlow collapsed into Gable’s arms during the filming of one scene and was rushed to the hospital. Diagnosed with uremic poisoning, she died of  a cerebral edema brought on by kidney failure just days later, at the age of 26. 90% of the film had been completed and MGM executives considered shelving the film altogether or reshooting it with Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur. Harlow fans were outraged and sent thousands of letters demanding to see her last film.  They decided to finish it with a stand-in for Harlow’s part. Mary Dees was cast as Harlow’s stand-in, being viewed only from behind or beneath big hats and binoculars. Radio actress Paula Winslowe provided Harlow’s voice. Scenes that couldn’t be faked were scrapped altogether or re-written to feature one of the supporting players instead. Because the public flocked to see Harlow’s last film, Saratoga was one of the highest grossing films of 1937. Released just six weeks after Harlow’s death, it earned over $3 million at the box office

My Verdict: This film is infamous for being Jean’s last role and for the game of  “Spot the Fake Harlow!” I think it probably would have been a better film if Jean had lived to finish it. As it is, the film is thrown together in the end and does feel that well. It is one of the weakest of Clark and Jean’s pairings; their sizzle is on simmer rather than boil. Might be just me, but I just don’t find the horse-betting storyline intriguing. Take out the interest in seeing it for it being Jean’s last role and it is a rather mediocre film.

mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in March 2011.

In a Nutshell: Test Pilot (1938)

clark gable myrna loy spencer tracy test pilot

Directed by: Victor Fleming

Co-stars: Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore

Synopsis: Gable is Jim Lane, a boozing, womanizing army test pilot who walks to the beat of his own drummer. On one trip, his plane starts leaking  gas and he lands on the field of a Kansas farm, where Ann Barton (Loy) lives with her parents. Their sparring turns to mutual attraction soon after and by the time Jim’s best friend and mechanic, Gunner Morris (Tracy) arrives to help fix the plane, they are in love. When Jim brings the plane home to New York, he has Ann in tow, as his new wife. Jim has a lot of adjustments to do to get used to being a married man and Gunner is jealous as it has always just been the two of them and now he is the third wheel.

Although Ann was at first thrilled at her husband’s exciting profession, she learns quickly how dangerous it is. She hides her true feelings from Jim and puts on a happy face with each new mission he takes on. Gunner, who has grown to admire Ann, grows more and more bitter as he watches Ann suffer behind Jim’s back.

Best Gable Quote: “The sky looks sweet and wears a pretty blue dress, doesn’t she? Yeah well don’t kid yourself. She lives up there, she invites you up there and when she gets you up there, she knocks you down!”

Fun Fact: Loy recalled that Gable was intimidated by the drunken “sky wears a pretty blue dress” speech and had her rehearse with him over and over; he was afraid of appearing too sensitive. In the end he did it perfect in one take.

My Verdict: This film is the first one comes to mind when people say they have seen the Clark Gable basics: It Happened One Night, Gone with the Wind, The Misfits, etc. Now what should they see? TEST PILOT. Why? Because this film is Clark Gable in his 30’s prime, all wrapped up in a pretty bow and presented to you on a platter. The witty script gives Clark plenty of wisecracks, he’s got a fair share of white-knuckles action scenes in the air, buddy brother-love scenes sparring with Spencer Tracy, and romantic scenes with the fabulous Myrna Loy. I consider it an essential.

mustachemustachemustachemustache

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in January 2013.

 

In a Nutshell: Too Hot to Handle (1938)

too hot to handle myrna loy clark gable

Directed by: Sam Wood

Co-stars: Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Walter Connolly

Synopsis: Gable is Chris Hunter, a newsreel cameraman who is always where the action is. Walter Pidgeon is Bill Dennis, a rival newsreel cameraman who is constantly trying to out-scoop Chris. Both of them are bored in Shanghai since they can’t get anywhere near the action of the Chinese-Japanese war. His boss (Connolly) demanding action shots of the war, Chris starts making up fake shots using toy airplanes and sending them in. This angers Bill who decides to get even by sending his girlfriend, Alma (Loy) to fly in and he tricks Chris into thinking she is delivering vaccines so he’ll get an action shot. Chris’ driver ends up accidently causing Alma’s plane to crash while trying to get the shot and Chris rescues her from the blaze. Chris and Alma soon fall for each other, much to Bill’s chagrin. The two men constantly try to outdo each other, until binding together (somewhat) to help Alma find her brother, who is held captive by voodoo bushmen in the South American jungle.

Best Gable Quote: “I didn’t distort the truth. I merely heightened the composition.”

Fun Fact: While filming the plane crash, it was reported that the fire got out of control and the director wanted to cut the shot so they could get Loy out of there in time. Gable rushed in and pulled Loy out of the plane, saving her life before the flames engulfed her. The press quickly got wind of the story and it was front page news. Loy recalled she never thought she was in any danger and speculates it was the studio just trying to get some publicity for the film.

My Verdict: Another reteam of Clark and Myrna in an action packed romance! This one includes foreign adventure and Clark gets to be the rogue reporter yet again. It’s an enjoyable romp, with Clark and Myrna showing their usual spark and Clark ruffling Walter Pidgeon’s feathers. The film loses steam for me once they set out in the jungle to rescue Myrna’s brother.

mustachemustachemustache

Read more here.

 

In a Nutshell: Idiot’s Delight (1939)

clark gable idiot's delight

Directed by: Clarence Brown

Co-stars: Norma Shearer, Burgess Meredith

Synopsis: Gable is Harry Van, a World War I vet and struggling vaudeville performer when he meets Irene (Shearer), an acrobat, while performing in Omaha, Nebraska. They have a brief romance before going their separate ways. Many years pass as Harry tries different acts and odd jobs in between. Fast forward to 1939 and Harry is on a train in Europe with his current act, Les Blondes. They get stopped from getting into Geneva due to the impending war. Stranded at a mountaintop hotel, Harry notices a Russian countess who looks just a tad too familiar–could it be Irene from Omaha?

Best Gable Quote: “What’s more, it cost seventy-five cents! You know, that’s the most expensive present I ever bought for any dame!” (I had to pick that one because Carole Lombard thought it particularly hilarious and telling of Clark’s penny-pinching ways and would retort it back to him often!)

Fun Fact: Gable was very nervous about the singing and dancing required for the role. He spent over six weeks rehearsing, often at home with Lombard as his coach. On the day they shot the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number, the set was closed to outsiders. Lombard came by to watch and gave him a bouquet of roses afterward.

My Verdict: Every Gable fan should see it. Not because it’s a spectacularly great film, but because it’s your lone chance to see Clark dance and sing and make a bit of a fool of himself. And in that aspect it’s enjoyable. It’s the whole Norma Shearer-doing-a-bad-Garbo-impression part that is lost on me. The plot of is-she-or-isn’t-she-Irene-from-Omaha thing is stale and really quite silly. Overall, it’s not a disappointing film, it’s rather enjoyable, just with a dull romance amongst the singing, dancing and war drama.

mustachemustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in May 2011.

Ratings

In a Nutshell: Wife vs. Secretary (1936)

myrna loy clark gable jean harlow wife vs. secretary

Directed by: Clarence Brown

Co-stars: Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, James Stewart

Synopsis: Gable is Van, “Jake”, or “V.S.” Stanhope, a publishing executive happily married to the elegant Linda (Loy). Tongues start wagging about Van and his beautiful secretary, Helen “Whitey” Wilson (Harlow), whom he considers a close friend and confidante, but nothing more. While trying to secretly buy rights to a magazine from a rival publisher, he sneaks around town with Whitey, finalizing the deal. As his stories become inconsistent, Linda begins to suspect him and Whitey are having an affair. So does Whitey’s patient fiancé, Dave (a youthful Stewart). Dave grows irritated that Whitey refuses to quit her job, telling her that it isn’t natural for a woman not to want to stay home and be married and have children. She breaks up with him after he insinuates her relationship with Van is indecent. Linda’s suspicions finally bubble over when Van refuses to take her along on a business trip to Havana. An emergency occurs and Van calls Whitey to Havana to help him close the deal. When Whitey answers Van’s hotel room phone at 2:00am after a long night, Linda feels she needs no further evidence and begins divorce proceedings when Van returns to New York, refusing to believe his explanations.

Best Gable Quote: “You know, Linda, sometimes I just sit in the office and think about us. I try to be very fair about it and I am too. And I say to myself: who are you to think you are entitled to Linda? Are you good enough for her? And I say to myself: No. Then I say to myself: Well who is entitled to her? Is anyone good enough for her? And I say to myself: No. Then I say to myself: You’re as little entitled to her as anybody else so you hold right on. And I’m holding.”

Fun Fact: Gable and Loy became close friends on the set. She said he brought her coffee every morning and would read her Shakespeare and poetry in her trailer between takes.

My Verdict: I love this movie. The premise is silly and a common one form the 1930’s—a ridiculous stream of misunderstandings leads to marital strife—but this movie stands out because of the snappy script and the great cast. Clark Gable, Myrna Loy AND Jean Harlow! Plus throw in a young Jimmy Stewart as Harlow’s beau! Fabulous. Clark and Jean have their usual great chemistry, and Myrna and Clark’s scenes are adorably sweet. This one may not be one of his most dramatic parts or one of this pinnacle films, but it is a standout to show people in generations to come –“Hey, this is why Clark Gable was so popular.”

mustachemustachemustachemustache

 

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in July 2010.

 

In a Nutshell: San Francisco (1936)

clark gable jeanette macdonald san francisco

Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke

Co-stars: Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy

Synopsis: Gable is Blackie Norton, a ruthless saloon-keeper in 1906 San Francisco, proud of his gambling ways. Despite their differences, he falls in love with Mary Blake (MacDonald), an aspiring opera singer who he hires to sing in his revue. His childhood pal, priest Tim Mullin (Tracy), objects to him putting Mary on display and stopping her from her opera aspirations. Realizing that Tim is right and that she should pursue her dreams instead of letting Blackie hold her back, Mary leaves him and becomes a successful opera star. It isn’t until the shattering earthquake that Blackie realizes his true feelings for Mary and sets out to find her among the rubble.

Best Gable Quote: “You know, I never tried to kid you, Mary. You take me as I am or you don’t take me. Tim doesn’t try to change me because he knows he can’t. And you can’t either. Nothing can. You know what I’ve been waiting for? I’ve been waiting to hear you say that I’m alright with you the way I am. Maybe you’re ready to say it now. Are you?”

Fun Fact: The film was one of the biggest hits of 1936, earning $5.3 million and a profit of $2.2 million. It became Gable’s highest grossing film after Gone with the Wind.

My Verdict: This is one of those films that has it all—drama, comedy, romance, action. It is difficult not to like this film! Although Gable did not like working with MacDonald, I don’t think it shows; they do have great chemistry. She may not be the sexiest of his leading ladies for sure, but she’s beautiful and her purity rubbed up against Clark’s ruggedness works. Gable and Tracy are always a great pairing and here is no exception. The special effects used for the earthquake are extremely impressive if you take in account that you are looking at a film made at a time when talkies hadn’t even been around 10 years yet. No CGI here, real effects and stunt people. The songs are great (although I must confess I always fast forward through MacDonald’s opera sequence…) and the costumes superb. An essential for sure, although I must say I think Clark should have nabbed an Oscar nomination for this one. Just sayin’.

mustachemustachemustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

Ratings

In a Nutshell: China Seas (1935)

china seas clark gable wallace beery jean harlow

Directed by: Tay Garnett

Co-stars: Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Rosalind Russell, Lewis Stone

Synopsis: Gable is Alan Gaskell, a roguish captain of a ship that sails between Hong Kong and Shanghai. It’s established pretty early on that he’s been having some adult fun ashore with a Shanghai harlot, Dolly, who goes by the name China Doll (Harlow). So imagine his surprise when setting his ship off to sea that she is on board as a passenger! She confesses she is madly in love with him; he is weary of her and rejects her advances. She is green with jealousy upon the arrival onboard of Sybil,(Russell), a distinguished former paramour of Alan’s from England. Lily sets out to win her man back but ends up embarrassing herself in front of him and the lady by telling of Alan’s seedy behavior. Rejected by him once again, she decides to get even and is persuaded to be in cahoots with Jamesy (Beery), a crooked first mate who is collaborating with Malaysian pirates to loot the ship.

Best Gable Quote: “Let’s quit good friends instead of like a couple of cab drivers after a drunken brawl.”

Fun Fact: Gable and Beery did not get along during filming. During the scene where Beery hits Gable while he’s passed out, Beery reportedly smacked Gable hard instead of faking it. Gable jumped out of the chair and threatened to break his neck and the crew had to separate them and continue filming the scene the next day after they had cooled off.

My Verdict: This is one of those 1930’s films that set out to appeal to audiences because of its foreign, exotic setting. Put any story in the Orient, especially on a ship, and people will be mesmerized! I know many people that claim that this is their favorite Gable/Harlow pairing; not for me. It’s a good film, and the banter between Gable and Harlow is at its zingiest, but their characters are a bit too cut out of cardboard to let their spark shine. Gable is the stoic captain and Harlow the salty hooker–pretty much sums it up. I must also mention that Harlow’s cotton candy wigs in this film are downright atrocious! Russell fills the shoes of the prim and proper lady quite nicely, but she doesn’t have much to do at all. The storm scenes are impressive and there is action to spare.

mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in February 2011.

 

In a Nutshell: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

clark gable mamo mutiny on the bounty

Directed by: Frank Lloyd

Co-stars: Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone

Synopsis: Gable is legendary historical figure Fletcher Christian in this adaption of the famous tale of mutiny on the high seas in 1787. He is first mate to the tyrannical Captain Bligh (Laughton) on a two year voyage from England to Tahiti to obtain breadfruit plants. Bligh beats and starves the sailors, all while Christian and fellow officer Bynum (Tone) stand and watch. Christian finally can’t stand it anymore and rallies the men to overthrow Bligh and take over the ship. They send Bligh and his supporters adrift at sea in a small boat and take the Bounty back to Tahiti. They live there peacefully, marrying native women and enjoying the island until Bligh and a new crew come searching for them.

Best Gable Quote: “I’m sick of blood! Bloody backs, bloody faces! Well, you’ve given your last command on this ship. We’ll be men again if we hang for it!”

Fun Fact: Gable received his second Academy Award nomination for the film. Laughton and Tone were also nominated, all for Best Actor. Noticing that it seemed odd that three actors from the same film were up for the same award, this prompted the Academy to start issuing awards for supporting actors and actresses. All three lost to the only Best Actor nominee not in the film, Victor McLaglen, for The Informer.

My Verdict: A wonderful film. This is one of a handful of films I always mention when people say (as they do often) that Clark Gable couldn’t act. He does a spectacular job in this, a difficult and tedious role, and is worthy of his Oscar nom. The whole cast is phenomenal, Tone and Laughton especially. I remember it took a couple of watches for me to truly appreciate what a wonderful film this is on many levels. Cinematically beautiful, wonderful dramatic performances. Not the most by-the-book adaptation of the novel, but it is still great.

mustachemustachemustachemustache

It is on DVD.

Read more here.

Ratings

In a Nutshell: Red Dust (1932)

clark gable jean harlow red dust

Directed by: Victor Fleming

Co-stars: Jean Harlow, Mary Astor, Gene Raymond

Synopsis: Gable is Dennis Carson, a rubber plantation owner in Indochina. His no-nonsense way of life is interrupted by the arrival of Lily, or “Vantine” (Harlow), a sassy prostitute from Saigon who is on the run from the law and wants to lay low for a while. They clash at first but soon are bedfellows. Just as Vantine leaves, overseer Gary Willis (Raymond) and his lovely wife, Barbara (Astor) arrive. Vantine’s boat wrecks and when she returns to the plantation, she finds that Dennis now only has eyes for Barbara. Heartbroken, she watches their affair unfold behind Gary”s back.

Best Gable Quote: “I have a special fondness for somebody who stands up and fights back. Particularly if she’s a woman who looks extraordinarily beautiful when she’d doing it. And even more beautiful when she’s calmed down.”

Fun Fact: During filming of the rain barrel sequence, Harlow stood up in the barrel, topless, and shouted, “Here’s one for the boys in the lab!” and burst into laughter. Director Fleming had the film removed from the camera and destroyed to prevent any leaks from getting out on the black market.

My Verdict: If you see just one of Clark Gable’s pre-codes, it needs to be this one. The heat between Clark and Jean Harlow, not to mention their easy banter, is extraordinary. Also not to be ignored is the firey chemistry between Mary Astor and Clark. The humid and sticky jungle setting–making Clark always seem sweaty and dirty—just adds to the ambience. This role wasn’t Clark’s breakout role, but it was the one that shot him to superstardom.

mustachemustachemustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

In a Nutshell: The Finger Points (1931)

the finger points clark gable richard barthelmess

Directed by: John Francis Dillon

Co-stars: Richard Barthelmess, Fay Wray

Synopsis: Barthelmess is Breckenridge Lee, a naive Southerner who comes to New York to be a newspaperman. It isn’t long before his innocence falls victim to gangsters, under the wing of tough guy Louis Blanco (Gable).  He begins taking bribes and covering up stories for them. Breck’s girl, Marcia (Wray), urges him to go straight before it is too late.

Best Gable Quote: “Double-crossing is very unhealthy in this town. Do you feel well?”

Fun Fact: Clark filmed scenes for The Finger Points, Night Nurse and The Easiest Way simultaneously.

My Verdict: Clark is again a textbook gangster with no real development. The plot is very similar to several other pre-codes over that year. This one’s nothing to write home about.mustache

Not on DVD.

Read more here.

 

In a Nutshell: The Secret Six (1931)

clark gable jean harlow

Directed by: George W. Hill

Co-stars: Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Johnny Mack Brown, Lewis Stone, Marjorie Rambeau

Synopsis: Gable (billed seventh and not appearing until half an hour into the film) is Carl, a reporter for a New York newspaper, always out sniffing for a story. He competes with Hank (Brown), who works for a rival newspaper, for stories and the affection of Ann (Harlow). Ann works at a steakhouse owned by crooked Louie (Beery), who rises very fast to the top of a crime gang. Carl tries to play both sides of the coin and befriend Louie and his cronies while also giving tips to the police and “the secret six”, masked men bent on capturing the gang.

Best Gable Quote: “Say, listen, if you’re going to fall for anybody, make it me. I’m the dependable guy!”

Fun Fact: Gable’s first film with Jean Harlow. She was loaned to MGM from Warner Brothers for the role.

My Verdict: Great cast and a good pre-code gangster story. Even though Clark is hardly the star of this film, it’s interesting to see that budding chemistry between him and Jean!The film is all Wally Beery’s though, so if you’re not a fan, you’ll have a lot of fast forwarding to do to get to Clark’s parts!mustachemustache

It’s on DVD

Read more here.

Movie of the Month, November 2010

 

In a Nutshell: Laughing Sinners (1931)

clark gable joan crawford

Directed by: Harry Beaumont

Co-stars: Joan Crawford, Neil Hamilton

Synopsis: Gable is Carl, a saintly Salvation Army officer who rescues Ivy (Crawford), distraught over being dumped by her boyfriend (Hamilton), from jumping off a bridge. Under Carl’s influence, Ivy gives up her hard-drinking, hard-partying nightclub lifestyle and joins the Salvation Army. Temptation proves to be too great though, when her ex-lover returns and she falls back into old habits

Best Gable Quote: “I just want you to be happy, whatever you do. But if you’re going back because of what you’ve done, you don’t need to, Ivy. We all stumble. All we can do is pick ourselves up again and go on and on and on until we find ourselves through our own mistakes.”

Fun Fact: Johnny Mack Brown was originally cast as Carl. At a preview, audiences laughed at his performance and lack of chemistry with Crawford. MGM replaced him with Gable and re-shot all of his scenes.

My Verdict: Joan is again a down-on-her-luck dancer, plucky but heartbroken. But Clark is not the bad guy here, quite the opposite, he’s pretty much a saint. The role doesn’t exactly fit him like a glove (and Joan’s blonde hair isn’t her best look), but the duo have chemistry and the film is a nice peek into 1931. mustachemustache

It’s on DVD

Read more here.

Movie of the Month, April 2012

Ratings

 

shirley temple christmas

In the January 1935 issue of Hollywood magazine, they printed “Santa’s book” of good and bad points for film stars. So who’s getting what they wanted for Christmas and who is getting coal?

CLARK GABLE

Good Points: For giving is It Happened One Night. Being always thoughtful of others. When a friend had no place to keep her dog, he gave it a home on his ranch.

Bad Points: Balks at picture assignments with women stars. Drives studio frantic by disappearing between pictures, when he is wanted for story conferences.

Gifts: More dogs to take care of

 

CAROLE LOMBARD

Good Points: Proved she could act in Twentieth Century. Came back to start Repeal like a good trouper, though still suffering from the shock of Russ Colombo’s death.

Bad Points: Still cusses when excited. But improving. Gets mad at stupid producers who want her to make stupid pictures, and makes one now and then in spite of herself. Put your foot down, Carole!

Gifts: A real vacation

JOAN CRAWFORD

Good Points: Kept her head and won respect by not rushing into another marriage. Has stuck by her career. Left off that extra splash of lipstick this year. Always gives us good pictures.

Bad Points: Suspicion that she has gone a bit coo-coo on cars. That big white limousine, and now that all white, satin upholstered roadster. Joan! How could you? And that horn can be be heard fully three miles!

Gifts: A plain Ford

JEAN HARLOW

Good Points: Well, you finally finished that book, Jean! I like you to stick to things that way. Add good point; not letting personal problems sour her. Made her mother happy with beautiful room in new home. Lifted Bill Powell out of the dumps.

Bad Points: O, hum, with 115 pounds distributed like that, what are Jean’s bad points? Hasn’t sent the editor a copy of “Today is Tonight,” her first book. Maybe he’ll find one in his stocking!

Gifts: A letter from every fan

SHIRLEY TEMPLE

Good Points: Refuses to be spoiled by compliments. Is Mrs. Santa Claus’ favorite actress. Can now spell her name and count. Invited all Hollywood (almost) to her birthday party.

Bad Points: Shirley, you mustn’t ask for so much gum–I heard you! After all, Mama isn’t made of gum! But I guess you’ve been a very good girl.

Gifts: Carton of gum

MARLENE DIETRICH

Good Points: When her studio make-up woman gave a little house-warming, Marlene came to the party and brought a gift. Keeps democratic; always lunches at Paramount cafe with common horde.

Bad Points: Caused great anguish and disappointment on return from Europe with trunks and trunks of gorgeous clothes–and then refused to appear in them, though all Hollywood waited in expectation, The meanie!

Gifts: Another director

BING CROSBY

Good Points: Now there is a fine lad; hope he continues to be a good boy, and gives us more like She Loves Me Not. Add two more good points–the twins. (Give Mrs. Crosby some credit there).

Bad Points: Got put in the doghouse during the making of We’re Not Dressing for keeping Director Taurog out all night. He and Carole Lombard tied a rope to the still man’s camera and hoisted it to the roof. Makes Paramount worry by putting on weight.

Gifts: Triplets!

WILLIAM POWELL

Good Points: The Thin Man–worth a dozen good marks. Got our favorite child, Jean Harlow, out of the dumps. Built a new home with a swimming pool for his nine-year-old boy.

Bad Points: Can’t find any black marks to chalk down against Bill. He has a good word for everybody, and everybody has a good word for him.

Gifts: Monogrammed hankies and scarf.

CLAUDETTE COLBERT

Good Points: For earning and keeping the admiration of all fans. Because her form has nothing but good points. For giving is her share of It Happened One Night.

Bad Points: Hates to take stills and is always trying to get out of it. Takes too many people’s advice and worries too much about meaningless criticisms if trivial matters.

Gifts: That long planned trip to Europe

GEORGE RAFT

Good Points: For never forgetting a friend.

Bad Points: That fist fight at the Brown Derby.

Gift: A night club

GARY COOPER

Good Points: Settling down to being a good husband. Never kicks about a picture role. Let Shirley steal one picture and gave her a present for it!

Bad Points: Has terrible memory or else a convienent forgetter. Spoiled one scene by putting on wrong tie and forgetting where the right one had been tossed.

Gift: A rifle

GRETA GARBO

Good Points: For just being the most fascinating star in pictures. For doing The Painted Veil. For creeping out of her shell a bit.

Bad Points: That inhuman hermit complex. Refusing to sign a new contract and keeping Metro and all her fans in suspense.

Gifts: A husband

 

clark gable carole lombard

Since Clark and Carole were married 74 years ago this month, here’s one from November 1936:

London, of all places, has the cutest new betting game. They’re betting, over there, on whether or not certain film couples will marry! ! !

They’ve even got a set of standard odds, like this: even bet that Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck will wed; 90 to 1 against George Brent taking the leap with Garbo; 5 to 1 that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard will; 10 to 1 that Bill Powell and Jean Harlow won’t; 5 to 3 that Ann Sothern becomes Mrs. Roger Pryor; 7 to 4 against the Jackie Coogan-Betty Grable merger; 20 to 1 against Tom Brown and Eleanore Whitney; 6 to 1 against Ginger Rogers saying her I-do’s with Jimmy Stewart; 4 to 3 that Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald do it; 9 to 4 against Cary Grant and Mary Brian; 15 to 1 that George Raft finally does wed Virginia Pine despite hell, high water and Mrs. George Raft; and, finally, 100 to 1 that Ariel and Caliban never become Mr.-and-Mrs.

___

Let’s do a check to see what bets won:

Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck did wed, but not until 1939.

George Brent never married Greta Garbo (I found that one quite random!)

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were, of course, married in 1939.

Bill Powell and Jean Harlow never wed, as she died less than a year later.

Ann Sothern and Roger Pryor were married by the time this blurb went to press.

Jackie Coogan and Betty Grable were married in 1937.

Tom Brown and Eleanore Whitney were never married.

Ginger Rogers and Jimmy Stewart were never married (Imagine though!)

Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald were married in 1937.

Cary Grant and Mary Brian were never married.

…and I don’t know who Caliban and Ariel are!

Oh and out of all the couples above who actually were married (besides Clark and Carole, who we all know how that ended, sadly), Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond were the only ones who didn’t divorce.