clark gable jean harlow

Here is the continuation of yesterday’s article, where Clark Gable wrote what he thought of Jean Harlow. Now it’s Jean’s turn to gush about Clark–and gush she does indeed!

I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather have for a friend than Clark Gable. He embodies all qualities which are necessary for true friendship.

Not more than half a dozen people in Hollywood, I believe, know Clark as he really is. He is so much deeper than people think. He won’t talk about himself—he doesn’t even seem to think much about himself. It’s not that he’s a Garbo. But he is always so interested in finding out about you that he never tells you much about Gable.

But I know him from the standpoint of one who has worked with him on many pictures. I believe that by working with a man you get to know him as well as anyone possibly can. If he stands well in the opinion of his fellow workers, he’ll be the same under any conditions.

We started our screen partnership several years ago in The Secret Six. It was my first picture after Hell’s Angels and it was, I think, Clark’s first important picture. Since then we have played together in Red Dust, Hold Your Man and now in China Seas. The most revealing comment I can make about Clark is that he is, today, the same human, natural, amusing chap he was in the beginning.

He has made a spectacular success. His rise to the top is breath-taking even in Hollywood, where overnight fame comes fairly often. He is probably ever woman’s ideal of a man, as a husband, friend or a lover. But Clark is no more conscious of this than he is conscious of the color of his eyes. Maybe even less so! Fame hasn’t changed him.

For instance, his stand-in now is a man who worked with him on the stage some ten years ago. Clark’s attitude toward this chap is that of a friend and a fellow worker. He doesn’t seem to have a trace of a feeling that would be, after all, quite natural in the circumstances—“I’m the star and you’re the stand-in!”

There’s one exception, one change that has come inevitably with success. When Clark and I made The Secret Six we had no particular incentive because it seemed too wildly improbable that we would become stars. We regarded each bit of success as a lucky “break” and made the most of it. Our attitude was happy-go-lucky. We enjoyed ourselves as we went along.

Now Clark regards his work with an increased seriousness. He takes each part more intensely. The best way of putting it is to say that he has an increased application to his roles.

He is essentially a man’s man. His attitude toward me is that of a pal or a brother. With some men, you are made awfully conscious of being a woman.  You think, “Maybe my nose is shiny,” or “Does my hair look right?” or “What if my lips aren’t on straight?”

With Clark you don’t care if your nose is powdered or not, or whether you have on an old pair of slippers. You feel that he likes you because you’re a human being. You can be at ease with him, comfortable. This may seem a small point but it’s awfully important to me. Or to any woman—I’ve noticed the same reaction in others. I think it’s an important part of Clark’s charm.

He’s a completely natural person. He does all the little things for a woman that other men do—offers me a light for my cigarette, pulls out a chair for me, and so forth. But so many men have rather an air of preening themselves when they’re being gallant. Clark, quite naturally, wants to help you. And his unobtrusive way of offering the small courtesies represents true gallantry. Women must sense this through his screen performances. I believe it’s another explanation of his success.

He is highly considerate. He always seems, for instance, as vitally interested in my problems as his own. Sometimes when we rehearse I have difficulty with a bit of dialogue. A line won’t read in a way that sounds natural to me. Or perhaps it is out of character with the role I’m playing. Nine times out of ten Clark will say, “How would it be if Jean read the line like this?” Then he makes a suggestion that solves the problem.

I have the feeling that he is just as anxious for me to give a good performance as to give one himself. For instance, if we’re doing a scene which is more important to my role than his, he still gives of his best to help me. Even if it’s just a business of “feeding” me a line.

He is amusing, humorous. It is difficult to write of jokes and casual conversations—they always sound a bit flat when repeated. Between scenes we often talk of horses. I’m crazy about riding and of course polo is one of Clark’s min loves.

He is interested in all sorts of things, and all sorts of people. I believe this is another explanation of his charm. He loves talking to all kinds of men, learning their hopes and ambitions, the way they live. Often he goes over to the extras and chats with them. In our present picture China Seas, we have a lot of Oriental extras and Clark enjoys talking to them.

Of course they all think him a “velly nice man!” One of them spent hours whittling away on a bit of wood, making a curiously complicated puzzle which he presented to Clark.

Our sets always have this nice feeling of friendliness between the extras, the bit players, and all the others. It would be difficult to work under any other condition. With everybody Clark is kindly and understanding. And if he can be so considerate toward these people–who really mean nothing to him—how much more would he be toward a friend!

He is dependable, too—another important quality in friendship. I feel that he would be big enough to handle any situation with complete ease.  He never fusses or frets. He looks clearly at a problem and sees the right thing to do. He seldom argues. Quietly, he thinks things out, and then what he says always has real meaning.

He is, of course, an excellent actor. (And I believe it is an important indication of character when a man excels at his trade, whatever it is.) As a working partner, I couldn’t ask for more/ Je gives up so much to each part that I have to keep up with him. He constantly keys me up.

Today, for instance, we did a scene in China Seas in which the suspense is terrific. It was a difficult and dramatic bit. Yet Clark was so vibrantly master of the scene that he gave me something to shoot at.

Personally, he has more stability than many men I have known. You feel this when you talk with him. He seems to know where he stands, and where he is going. He won’t change.

Even more important, he has the ability to follow-through. I admire that tremendously. He has made a success and stuck with it, even though there have been times when it wasn’t easy.

I have seen him, for instance, work twice as hard for a role in which he didn’t quite believe as he would have worked for a role he really liked. He never quits on the job for any reason. He wouldn’t be a fair-weather friend.

There! When your editor suggested that I do this story telling “what I think of Clark Gable,” I warned him that it might sound like a Pollyanna yarn. Perhaps I’ve been too darned complimentary. But anyone who knows me will realize that I couldn’t say such things unless I wholeheartedly meant them. And sincerely I think Clark Gable is the grandest guy in the world.

clark gable jean harlow

This is article appeared in Hollywood magazine in 1935, as publicity for the upcoming China Seas. Clark Gable and Jean Harlow were buddies, and the publicity team at MGM liked to circle that around.  Here on the site we’ve got this article about them on the set of Wife vs. Secretary.  And This one behind the scenes of Hold Your Man is fun too.

The endearing way he talks about Jean is so sweet. So difficult to wrap your head around the fact that she would be dead in two years, at the age of 26.

Here is what Clark had to say about his buddy Jean in 1935 (Jean’s part about Clark coming up tomorrow!):

 

To me, Jean always seems to have rather a man’s attitude toward life. I don’t know just how to explain this, but I always feel it when I’m with her. You can talk to her so naturally. She understands and appreciates the things men are interested in. Of course this appeals to any man.

Instead of the slinky evening gowns and bizarre costumes you might expect her to wear, after seeing her on the screen, she usually goes around in a pair of slacks, or a sports skirt, short socks, and sneakers. She seems utterly unconscious of her beauty.

She adores golf. She is an expert fisherman. She loves riding. And she makes no allowances for herself as a woman in these sports. She plays them on an equal basis with men—and discusses them more intelligently than one woman in a hundred.

She never uses her femininity in conversations—to win arguments, for instance, or to put over a point. So many woman suddenly “go feminine” when they think it will turn the tide their way, but I don’t think Jean even thinks of her sex in such circumstances.

She has, too, a complete sense of fairness. I don’t know anyone, man or woman, who is more of a straight shooter. She is fair in the things she does and the things she says. I have seen her, on one occasion, give a bit player an unusual break. The girl had a short line to speak, and then Jean was supposed to interrupt her. The girl had tried awfully hard, but as the scene was to be played she would be hardly noticed. Jean said, “I was an extra myself once, so I know what this means to her. Couldn’t we change the script a little so my line can be delayed—and I won’t have to walk in front of her?”

I’ve never known Jean to “go temperamental,” and when you consider the number of days we have worked together, this is a real tribute. I have seldom seen her out of spirits. Of course, she’s human, and she has occasional flare-ups. But they last only a short time and are always directed where they belong. Usually she is right.

She’s a swell sport. For instance, if I have to “sock” her in a picture—and believe me, it is done with the utmost reluctance!—she never asks me to take it easy. She doesn’t expect me to. When I “dunked” her in the barrel of water in Red Dust, she didn’t seem to mind at all. I’m always a bit embarrassed about such scenes, and her attitude helps. It’s just part of the business to her, and she goes through the retakes, if they’re necessary, like a trouper.

Again, during the making of China Seas, she had a bad cold, and right in the middle of it we had another scene where she had to be soaked. She didn’t complain once, though I’m sure it was anything but pleasant for her. And if she didn’t have such radiant health, it would take her weeks to break up the resulting cold.

One of the characteristics I have in mind when I say she has a man’s attitude is her amazing sincerity. She is always perfectly frank. There is no halfway about her, she treats everyone the same way—director, producer, or fellow actor. When we were making The Secret Six, Wallace Beery once criticized her for some minor detail of her performance. Without hesitation she flared right back at him. Remember, at the time, her position wasn’t nearly so important as his. But he admired her frankness—I believe their friendship dates from that day.

She never keeps things pent up inside herself. She doesn’t nourish a grudge. If she has anything to say, she brings it out into the open, and then forgets about it. I like that.

Looking back on our first picture together, the talks we had will always stand out in my mind. After her success in Hell’s Angels, she was a step ahead of me on the way to success, yet she never made me feel that it was her picture any more than mine.

Neither of us knew much about the business, and we tried to figure things out together so the rest wouldn’t realize how awfully green we really were. I remember Jean would ask me at the end of every scene—“How’m I doing?”

And I asked her the same.

We criticized each other, trying desperately to learn. Nobody else seemed to pay much attention to us. We were not among the chosen few who saw the daily rushes. Every good word Jean heard about me, she would rush to repeat to me. And things that weren’t so good, too, because she knew that is one way of progressing.

We used to plan, jokingly, what we wanted if we ever did get to the top. Jean never particularly wanted fame. The lights and the crowds and the glamour of being a star never seemed to mean much to her, even before she had them. She wanted, sincerely, the happiness of knowing she had done a job well.

If you talked to her directors and other fellow stars, I think you’ll find that she feels the same way today.

She was, I remember, terribly afraid of being typed in “vamp” roles. She was afraid that her part in Hell’s Angels would mark her forever in the eyes of the fans. Red Dust wasn’t much better. But she didn’t complain.

She is, in my opinion, one of Hollywood’s best comediennes, and I feel that she is right in wanting to do more comedy. Certainly few stars in Hollywood could have equaled her wonderful performance in Bombshell. I hope she is given the chance to do more pictures like that.

She is a thoughtful person, considerate of those around her. Every morning she has coffee and doughnuts on the set. Instead of ordering one cup of coffee and a couple of doughnuts sent to her dressing room, she orders a huge pot of coffee and a couple of dozen doughnuts for the entire company.

Because of little things like this, every extra I’ve ever talked with adores her. Sometimes they are critical of other stars, who may be, in their eyes, ritzy or up-stage. But Jean stands ace high with all of them.

Having grown out of the extra ranks herself, she has not forgotten her friends and acquaintances among them. Out of every crowd, on our pictures, she will find a familiar face or two. It’s always—“Hello, Eddie!—“Hi, there, Janet!”

She has boundless enthusiasm—a quality so many people outgrow. In many ways she is like a kid in her pleasure over little things. Just the other day a property boy who had worked with her on Bombshell brought her a live rabbit. She couldn’t have been more pleased if it had been an expensive gift.

Because they like her, everyone who works with her tries to make things easier for her—even though she isn’t a demanding person, and prefers to do things for herself. She has told me of making the dance scene in Reckless. She had never danced for the camera and was terribly nervous. She had to do her stuff in front of a hundred or so but players—all of them chosen for their expert dancing. If they had so much as whispered a word of criticism, she told me, she wouldn’t have been able to go through with it. Instead they applauded her, and kept crying out, “That’s the stuff, Jean! You’ve got it now!”

And their enthusiasm meant so much to her that by the third “take” she was dancing like a professional!

It has always been a bond between us that we started at about the same time, and our progress has been more or less parallel. Neither of us can remember “way back to the silent days.” We went to the same class in the same school, in other words, and we’ve been promoted in the same pictures. Of course, in between, we each went separate ways, she with other leading men and I with other leading ladies. After a picture, we make no effort to keep up our friendship. But when we see each other again, we seem to pick up where we left off, regardless of what has happened to us in the meantime. It’s marvelous and rare to have a friend like that. Most friendships are lost unless they are kept alive.

Probably this outburst puts me in the class of her fans. I am. And I think you’ll find that everyone who really knows Jean feels just the same way.

Featured in Screen Guide magazine in November 1936, here is one of those wacky articles that could only come from the 1930’s–a psychic tells you what will become of Hollywood’s great couples!

wanda hollywood

“The Future of Ten Hollywood Romances as Predicted by Wanda, One of Hollywood’s Most Famous Seers”

The ten blazingest Hollywood romances! How will the end? Marriage? Split up? This story tells.

In presenting this remarkable set of predictions, I have kept in mind that my readers’ interest in the stars is no fleeting thing. You will be amazed as time goes on, to note the accuracy of Wanda’s readings. She has built for herself a tremendous following among the Hollywood famous. I suggest that you keep this article–refer to it in the future and see how right she has been this time. It’ll be fun!

Yes, let’s see just how right this “remarkable” Wanda was, shall we?

Rose Joan Blondell and Richard Ewing Powell (Joan Blondell and Dick Powell)

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There is no if, and or but about this romance. Joan and Dick (if they’re not married by the time you read this) will be married shortly after her divorce from George Barnes becomes final….[Dick] is a charming boy and he and Joan will get along beautifully…She and Dick have many tastes in common and she will always be interested in anything that Dick likes. They will have a child within a year or so after their marriage.

Well, she wasn’t totally wrong here. Joan and Dick were indeed married by the time this magazine hit news stands, tying the knot on September 19, 1936.  They did have a child in 1938, a daughter named Ellen.  Wanda couldn’t predict, I suppose, that in 1944 Dick’s head would be turned by a younger blonde actress, June Allyson, and he would subsequently leave Joan for her.

Arlington Brugh and Ruby Stevens (Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck)

robert taylor barbara stanwyck

For his own good Robert Taylor should not marry for many years. I say this because he is an extremely restless personality. He likes action–lots of it–and hates monotony. He never sits still and never is. He is like a wild horse who hates a halter…He will come under a marriage aspect next year, but if he should marry then it will not last…As far as his “romance” with Barbara Stanwyck is concerned, this is really a glorified friendship. Barbara is very intuitive and psychic; she understands Bob’s spirit perfectly…She will have a proposal of marriage in 1937–and perhaps from Bob, but neither should she marry during that year. It would be what we call an “inevitable marriage”—one which she would have no control.

Her timeline is off, but she’s not completely wrong. Bob and Barbara were married on May 14, 1939, after three years of dating and being called out for “acting like they are married but they aren’t” in the same magazine article that called out Clark and Carole. Bob was indeed not a man who could be tamed, so to speak. After years of him cheating on her, Barbara finally filed for divorce in 1951. He went on to marry actress Ursula Theiss and have two children; Barbara never remarried and missed him the rest of her life.

William Powell and Harlean Carpentier (William Powell and Jean Harlow)

jean harlow william powell

Jean Harlow is two distinct personalities, and she is another person who cannot be restricted. That is why she changed her hair to a brownish shade when she found that its platinum color interfered with her independence. Instead of being its slave she decided to let it be hers…Regardless of what people think, she is very timid and has a strong mother complex. She is also of a restless disposition and enjoys changes. 1937 will prove to be a better year for her than 1936. My advice to her would be to wait a little longer for another marriage.

William Powell was born a genius. He is very proud and disdainful person but loves children and dogs…Bill wants a great deal of love and affection and he wants a wife to be always at his beck and call. That’s why there will be a disturbing element in any marriage he enters into with a busy actress. A woman must role his home as well as his heart.

“1937 will be a better year for her than 1936″?? There is an appalling prediction! Jean Harlow died at the age of 26 in 1937.  Bill and Jean were still together at the time of her death and he was devastated. Married and divorced twice before the Jean romance (his second marriage being to Carole Lombard), Bill eventually married actress Diana “Mousie” Lewis in 1940 and they were married until his death in 1984.

Raymond Guion and Jeanette MacDonald (Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald)

jeanette macdonald gene raymond

Because Jeanette MacDonald is a Gemini and Gemini women usually marry men of a different nationality or religion, I have long been expecting this Jeanette MacDonald-Gene Raymond engagement…The marriage aspects are better for her than for Gene. His best marriage year is really 1938. Still a partnership with Jeanette will turn out happily for him as well as for her so long as he is careful about disagreements and separations…Gene is almost as much wrapped up in music as Jeanette is, and you’ll hear a lot more about him as a composer as time goes on. But my advice to them is to wait awhile, until Gene passes through his present aspects. He had one big love affair last year–he’ll know whom I mean–from which he hasn’t yet recovered.

Jeanette and Gene were indeed married, although sooner than the great Wanda wanted–making it official on June 16, 1937. They remained married until her death in 1965, however revelations from friends and discoveries of personal letters and diaries in the past decade or so have provided clear evidence that this marriage of theirs was a cover-up because Gene was gay and Jeanette was being kept away from her ongoing love affair with Nelson Eddy.

James Stewart and Eleanor Powell

james stewart eleanor powell

This is a nice friendship but has very little marriage possibilities. Eleanor will make a better friend than a marriage partner in this case…I doubt if either of them would learn the lesson of give and take. James Stewart will have two or more marriages.

Again she is kind of right. Jimmy and Eleanor starred in together in Born to Dance that year and were briefly coupled. Eleanor went on to marry actor Glenn Ford in 1943, her only marriage, which ended in divorce in 1959. Wanda is wrong about Jimmy though, he was one of the very few of the golden age of Hollywood’s leading men who held out for the right woman and stayed once he found her. He married Gloria Hatrick in 1949 and they were happily married until her death in 1994.

George Brent and Greta Gustafson (George Brent and Greta Garbo)

george brent greta garbo

It is quite likely that this one will be at an end shortly. George Brent is the burnt child who dreads fire. The memory of his marriage to Ruth Chatterton has never been erased–its happiness and its grief both come back to haunt him…He likes to “putter” and as a matter of fact, he is very fussy and old-maidish. Greta, on the other hand, is just the opposite. An introvert who lives completely in herself. The state of things about her makes very little difference.

I don’t think this relationship was ever anything at all. Greta certainly never seemed ready for marriage–she left a brokenhearted John Gilbert at the altar in the late 1920’s and never married.  George was ultimately married five times. After this article, he married actress Constance Worth in 1937 and they were divorced less than a year later. He also had a short-lived marriage to actress Ann Sheridan. He had two children with his fifth wife, model Janet Michaels.

David Niven and Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson (David Niven and Merle Oberon)

merle oberon david niven

This romance is destined to follow a rocky path. Like “water” which is their symbol, they are too easily ruffled and changeable with the tide. Their sign is Pisces, which is two fish swimming in opposite directions. David likes to stand on his own two feet and doesn’t like to be bossed. And the compelling Merle Oberon has to be boss! …She is no back-seat driver.

Correct, Wanda. This one didn’t work out. Merle dated Clark before Carole was on the scene and one of the reasons Clark lost interest was apparently Merle’s tendency to be controlling and jealous.  Merle married British producer Alexander Korda in 1939, the first of four husbands. David married a British socialite named Primmie in 1940. She died tragically in an accident in 1946. He then married a Swedish fashion model in 1948 and although it was rather a tumultuous union, they stayed married until his death in 1983.

Cesar Romero and Virginia Briggs (Cesar Romero and Virginia Bruce)

cesar romero virginia bruce

These two are well suited to each other–both are “air” people and therefore could find happiness together. Virginia comes under a very strong marriage vibration after October of this year, and Cesar, too, begins a new cycle in February…Virginia will always attract men who will be constantly telling her how much they admire her, and any man who marries her will have to keep ahead of the others. Even when she is a very old lady there will always be a man waiting for her just around the corner–she can’t help it; hers is just that fatal attraction. But Cesar worships beauty as much as any man and will always respect and revere it. He also senses that she is an adorable mother and he has a strong inclination for a home and family. And if they marry the first of next year there will be a child before October, 1939.

No marriage for these two. Virginia, who was previously married to John Gilbert and had his daughter, married director J. Walter Ruben in 1937. They had one child before his death in 1942. Her third marriage lasted from 1946-1964, ending in divorce. Cesar, who dated Carole Lombard before Clark came on the scene, never married and was rumored to be gay.

And last but not least:

Clark Gable and Jane Peters (Clark Gable and Carole Lombard)

clark gable carole lombard

Clark Gable doesn’t come into another strong marriage vibration until the year 1938, and if he marries then, the only thing I can say to him is that he should keep his suitcase packed. I feel that this warning is necessary because he is individual and independent, and people of his type always marry on impulse. Yet in other respects, and a strange contradiction, he plays life like a game of chess, or like an actor who plays a part and watches himself go by. Few people “get this” about Gable, but it’s true. Another thing about him is that he can’t be bossed. This may have had something to do with the failure of his first two marriages. He is very aggressive and likes to do as he pleases. He will always want much more love and affection than he will give out.

There s little doubt about the fact that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard do get along beautifully, but because she doesn’t come under a strong marriage vibration until 1939 I cannot see a happy immediate marriage. There is, however, always that matter of Gable’s impulsiveness to be reckoned with. Many people point out that Clark and Carole have so much in common–that they both like sports, for example. However, they like them in a different way. Carole likes smart sports–smart tennis on a smart court in a smart pair of shorts. Clark likes backwoods “roughing it” sports. Their ideas are really quite far apart in this connection. Also Clark is content to live in plain, homey surroundings, while Carole’s artistic expression demands something more elaborate and “interior decorated.” She’s really amazingly artistic and when her film career over she can always find a lucrative livelihood as a painter, a landscape gardener, or an interior decorator. Also she is very rhythmic and if she would devote time and study to her voice, she might easily become a successful singer–even an opera singer. She is what we would call extravagant, yet her extravagances are really necessary to her. She hates miserliness in any form and there is nothing stingy about her, nor will she tolerate it in others around her. She has a very real humanitarian outlook and is abnormally patient with everything and everybody. She will put up with things for a long time, but, as is typical of such people, when she finally does get around to putting her foot down, she puts it down irrevocably. Carole is so interested in other people and other things that she neglects herself, and therefore I would advise her to marry someone who would take an interest in her…her health and her welfare–a physician or a surgeon preferably.

Well, well! There are a couple of things wrong about this: Carole did get into Clark’s kind of sport, and she wasn’t the type to scoff at wearing hunting gear and waders and getting dirty.  I don’t think Carole would have made much of an opera singer! Really! If you have seen her film Swing High, Swing Low, you can hear that Carole was not exactly an opera singer! Carole was more extravagant with Clark, but she wasn’t stupid with her money, and I don’t think she minded Clark’s tendency to be a penny pincher too much, as they both pretty much spent their own money as they pleased. I can’t see Carole being some surgeon’s wife…sounds like she’d get bored. I can’t argue that Clark was the type to marry on impulse—he’d done it before then and he’d do it again. Also he did like to do just what he pleased and I would say that him wanting more love and affection than he’d be willing to give out is fairly accurate. And of course, they did get married in 1939–when Carole was having a “strong marriage vibration.”

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.

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It’s on DVD.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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’.

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It’s on DVD.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It’s on DVD.

Read more here.