This cartoon appeared in Screenland magazine in 1933:

clark gable john barrymore joan crawford norma shearer


John Barrymore

Just as sure as not

You’ll find John on his yacht

Developing seaworthy legs.

And spending his time,

Without reason or rhyme,

With his rarest collection of eggs.


Joan Crawford

You cannot ignore,

In this group of four,

The personal hobby of Joan.

She considers it play

To model in clay

And even to chisel in stone.


Norma Shearer

If you can’t analyze

The charm of her eyes

Of the glamorous lure of her tresses–

You, at least, should have known

That Miss Shearer is prone

To designing her very own dresses.


Clark Gable

Here is a man’s man,

A cinema-fan’s man,

An actor in sweater and jeans.

When off of the lot

You Can see Clark get hot

‘A-fishing for whales and sardines.


clark gable night flight

Okay, okay, I know it’s the end of the month and here I am just now declaring the Movie of the Month for September. In my defense, I just moved and my office has turned out to be the last room to get unpacked. I always rewatch the Movie of the Month and reread the passages about it in some of the books I have. So I had to wait until I found my DVDs and books! I actually had another film in mind for this month but I can’t find the DVD at the moment, so Night Flight it is.

clark gable night flight

Night Flight is a true ensemble piece, boosting an impressive lineup of Hollywood royalty: Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Robert Montgomery, Lionel and John Barrymore. Clark Gable is hardly the star of this one, as he does not appear until a good twenty minutes into the film. It is a tale of 24 dramatic hours in the Air Mail industry, where pilots risk their lives every day flying through the pitch black night with limited instruments and no lights guiding the way. This time, it’s a vaccine needed at a children’s hospital in South America. Gable is Jules, a pilot who has lost his way somewhere over Texas, while his wife (Hayes) waits at home for him and grows more and more frantic.

clark gable night flight

Ok, so it is definitely worth pointing out that not only does Clark not appear until 20 minutes into the film, but all his scenes are limited to the cockpit of a plane. He has no scenes with Helen, his onscreen love interest. The reason for this was probably that his first film with Helen, The White Sister, had failed miserably at the box office–much blame given to the utterly awkward chemistry between Clark and Helen.

clark gable helen hayes night flight

The extent of romance between Clark and Helen: her gazing at his portrait

Night Flight is clunky to me; it relies to heavily on the star power of its roster rather than actual plot. It is also very dated, as modern audiences hardly understand the peril of pilots flying through darkness.

The film paired Clark  with renowned producer David O’ Selznick, whom he would later memorably work with on Gone with the Wind.  David was all about doing things big and bold and his last ensemble piece, the classic Dinner at Eight, was a big hit. Night Flight did not perform as expected, however. Despite earning a decent profit of $175,000, MGM was disappointed with the returns, expecting more from a film that demanded so many of its big name stars. After the flop of this film and the disastrous production of their next joint effort–Dancing Lady, Clark’s distrust of Selznick grew and simmered on the back burner for years…undoubtedly one of the factors in him not wanting to play Rhett Butler under Selznick’s guiding hand.

Since Clark is in a cockpit the whole time, the best scenes are given to the Barrymores. I also like Myrna and Robert’s small scenes. Clark’s name on this one is really for window dressing–the part could have been handled by a much smaller player. I suppose though they needed his name to round out their “all star roster.”

clark gable night flight clark gable night flight clark gable night flight clark gable night flight

All in all, not a film for the Gable fan seeking out its finest. Night Flight was the last film in his resume that I saw; at the time it was very difficult to find. Talk about ending my quest on a disappointment!

Night Flight is available on DVD through the Warner Brothers Archive Collection

You can see about 20 pictures from the film in the gallery and read more about it here.




John Barrymore lists the thirteen most fascinating women in his life, from Look magazine, Nov. 5, 1940:

The most fascinating woman I ever knew was my grandmother, Mrs. John Drew. But if you ask me to define glamour–well, I simply can’t. One doesn’t define that, and therein lies its charm.

Actually, I haven’t the slightest notion as to what constitutes glamour. I really feel that to find out would be one of life’s tragedies–especially where a man’s search fir it in a woman is concerned. It is the very elusiveness of the quality, and the inability to define it that provides the incentve for the search that never should end.

The best parallel I can give for glamour is that it’s like rare stamps. A stamp collector may have a wonderful time searching all his life for an Ecuadorian Blue which might be worth $30,000, but let him actually find the stamp,and his fun is over.

Thank Heaven, I have never found out just what glamour is, despite the fact I have known many glamourous, fascinating women. It would be easier to answer “What does glamour cost?” In my own case, I should say, “Everything I have been able to acquire during a more or less active life.”

Here is my list of the most glamorous women I have known. I am grateful to every one, for all have added zest and interest to my work and play.

Of course, John’s Twentieth Century co-star Carole Lombard made the list!

carole lombard john barrymore

The rest of John’s list:

ethel barrymore virginia weidler

elaine barrie john barrymore

greta garbo fay compton

katharine hepburn

paulette goddard