In an Nutshell: Betrayed (1954)

betrayed clark gable lana turner

Directed by: Gottfried Reinhardt

Co-stars: Lana Turner, Victor Mature

Synopsis: Gable is Colonel Pieter Deventer of Dutch Intelligence during World War II. He trains Carla Van Oven (Turner) to be the liaison between the British and the local resistance movement, led by a spunky rogue called “The Scarf” (Mature). Before she is put into position Pieter and Carla begin a romance. The team starts to suffer heavy losses after she joins them and Pieter begins to suspect she is a Nazi spy, while at the same time Carla begins to suspect The Scarf.

Best Gable Quote: “You stupid, whimpering fool. No, I’m the fool. You are what you always were.”

Fun Fact: Gable’s last film for MGM, after being a contract player there for 23 years. His box office had been faltering and MGM did not want to renew his $500,000 contract. Gable was also anxious to branch out and pursue his own projects.

My Verdict: Really, the only reason this film is memorable is that it is Clark’s last film for MGM. It’s slow-paced and rather tedious, with long periods of not much going on. The characters are underdeveloped and the script mediocre. It didn’t do well at the box office at the time, probably because people were flocking to see high-energy, colorful musicals, not drab war dramas. Lana is wasted here, trying to prove she can do drama without much sexpot. It is one of Clark’s few color pictures, so it has that going for it. That and not much else.

mustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in June 2012.

In a Nutshell: Soldier of Fortune (1955)

susan hayward clark gable soldier of fortune

Directed by: Edward Dmytryk

Co-stars: Susan Hayward, Gene Barry

Synopsis: Clark is Hank Lee, an American living in Hong Kong who earns big money smuggling in goods from Communist China. Jane Hoyt (Hayward) arrives in Hong Kong hoping to find her photographer husband Louis (Barry) who has been missing for months. Hank agrees to help her even though he fell in love with her at first sight. They learn that Louis was taken prisoner by the Chinese government, allegedly for taking some taboo pictures. There’s much adventure on the seas as Hank and crew set out to rescue him. Finally reunited with her husband, Jane finds herself not as happy as she thought she would be.

Best Gable Quote: “You know, all my life I’ve wanted to meet someone like you, someone I could believe in. I was beginning to think there wasn’t anyone. I never thought I’d find out the hard way.”

Fun Fact: Hayward was in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle over her 9 year old twin sons. Her husband obtained a court order preventing her from taking the boys to Hong Kong for the shoot. She refused to leave without them. Producers contemplated recasting her, but Gable persuaded them to use a double for her in Hong Kong scenes. As a result, the script was rewritten to satisfy this and Hayward shot all of her scenes at the studio in Los Angeles. She was very grateful to Gable.

My Verdict: Another one of Clark’s few color films. This one is kind of a typical 1950’s espionage thriller, and there’s not much spectacular about it. Clark is good in what he has to work with, but you can’t help but think that the Clark from twenty years earlier would probably have been better equipped at manning cannons and romancing Susan Hayward. I think this one is truly a man’s film, of which I am not, so perhaps it is lost on me. I met a man in his 60’s a few years ago who eagerly wanted to talk Clark Gable with me, and this was his favorite film. He talked about it at length and said he watches it at least twice a year. So to each his own, I guess!

mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

In a Nutshell: The Tall Men (1955)

clark gable jane russell the tall men

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

Co-stars: Jane Russell, Robert Ryan

Synopsis: Gable is Ben Allison, who along with his brother (Cameron Mitchell), join a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in 1866, headed by Nathan (Robert Ryan). En route, they save Nella (Jane Russell) from an Indian attack and she joins them on the journey. Ben and Nella share a cabin to ride out a blizzard and fall in love. Soon they realize that they have different futures in mind–Ben wants a ranch and a small family life, while Nella wants excitement–and they part ways, not amicably. Nella cozies up to Nathan and tension arises for the rest of the journey

Best Gable Quote: “You know something, when a woman looks pretty at sun-up then she’s really pretty.” (I really like that quote)

Fun Fact: Shot on location in Durango, Mexico

My Verdict: I am not really the biggest fan of Westerns, and this one is certainly not the greatest one ever made. Clark is looking pretty good in color here, although the black hair dye is a bit much! Jane Russell is sexy as always, and her and Clark’s playful banter and sniping at each other calls back to him and Ava Gardner. Although this one’s not so much a romance as a rootin’ tootin’ cattle drivin’ Indian shootin’ Western. It is what it’s supposed to be.

mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in November 2011.

Ratings

 

 

In a Nutshell: Honky Tonk (1941)

clark gable lana turner honky tonk

Directed by: Jack Conway

Co-stars: Lana Turner, Frank Morgan

Synopsis: Gable is fugitive con artist Candy Johnson, who stumbles upon the small town of Yellow Creek while on the run. He quickly takes advantage of the town’s lack of law and order. He also steals the heart of Elizabeth (Turner), a Boston-bred girl with a crooked father (Morgan). Although he insists he can’t be tied down, she manipulates him into marrying her and he becomes the most respected man in Yellow Creek. Her father doesn’t trust him, however, and sets out to destroy his reputation in town.

Best Gable Quote: “You’ve got a full set of Boston principles which are about as easy on a man as a hair suit!”

Fun Fact: Turner became flustered when Carole Lombard turned up on set during the filming of one of Turner
and Gable’s love scenes. Feeling Lombard’s stare, she ran to her dressing room and when she re-emerged, Lombard was gone. She assumed Gable had asked her to leave. When Turner apologized, Gable simply said, “I understand.”

My Verdict: Rhett Butler in the Wild West with a gun and a bag of candy. That’s pretty much Candy Johnson for you. But it’s an enjoyable romp, with Clark playing his typical anti-establishment bad guy who grows a conscience because of the right woman. Much is always been made of Clark and Lana’s chemistry, but in this film she is so smug and ladylike I hardly find it boiling. Great supporting turns by Marjorie Main, Claire Trevor and Frank Morgan. Clark’s best Western, hands down.

mustachemustachemustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in December 2012.

 

In a Nutshell: Somewhere I’ll Find You (1942)

clark gable lana turner somewhere i'll find you

Directed by: Wesley Ruggles

Co-stars: Lana Turner, Robert Sterling

Synopsis: Gable is Jonny Walker and Sterling is Kirk Walker, brothers who work together as war correspondents for a New York newspaper, just returning from overseas. They aren’t home for long before they are competing for the affection of Paula Lane (Turner),  a reporter who flip-flops between the two.  When Paula is sent on assignment to Indochina and disappears, the brothers are commissioned to find her. Once they do find her, Pearl Harbor happens and the three of them end up in Bataan: Jonny reporting for the paper, Kirk as a solider and Paula as a Red Cross nurse. The film was a “flag waver” meant to inspire war bond sales.

Best Gable Quote: “Here’s lesson number one:  When you find a blonde the right age and weight who knows the value of suspense, that’s bad.”

Fact (that’s not fun at all): Gable’s wife, Carole Lombard, died when her plane crashed into Table Rock Mountain near Las Vegas, Nevada on January 16, 1942.  She was 33. She had been selling war bonds (2 million of them) in her home state of Indiana. She had wanted Gable to join her but he couldn’t because he was set to start filming on Somewhere I’ll Find You. Instead her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and Gable’s longtime publicist and close friend Otto Winkler accompanied her. All perished in the crash. Filming was halted January 17-February 22 while Gable mourned and made funeral arrangements. Nobody was sure that he would return to the picture at all and Louis B. Mayer had Robert Taylor waiting in the wings to take over the part if Gable wasn’t up to it. When he did return to the set, Gable did not want to be babied or coddled in any way. This was to be Gable’s last film for nearly three years. He joined the Army Air Corps just before this film was released (much against MGM’s wishes), in honor of Lombard and to serve his country. He did not return to the screen until 1945, after he was discharged.

My Verdict: Taking the emotion that was going on behind the scenes out of it, this film is merely ok. It starts out as a silly story about two brothers chasing the same blonde who just can’t seem to make up her mind but then takes a sharp turn into an exotic adventure story as the two boys try to track down their beloved in Asia. It’s a really a humdrum film that takes on a gray pallor because of Lombard’s death looming over it like a stink over a trashpile, unfortuntately.

mustachemustache

It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

It was Movie of the Month in February 2013.

Ratings

clark gable lana turner somewhere i'll find you

This month, as Movie of the Month as well as my submission to the Classic Movie Blog Association’s Film of the 1940’s Blogathon, the focus is on 1942’s Somewhere I’ll Find You.

clark gable lana turner robert sterling somewhere i'll find you

Clark Gable is Jonny Walker and Robert Sterling is Kirk Walker, brothers who work together as war correspondents for a New York newspaper, and are just returning from overseas. They aren’t home for long before they are competing for the affection of Paula Lane (Lana Turner),  a reporter who flip-flops between the two.  When Paula is sent on assignment to Indochina and disappears, the brothers are commissioned to find her. Once they do find her, Pearl Harbor happens and the three of them end up in Bataan: Jonny reporting for the paper, Kirk as a solider and Paula as a Red Cross nurse.

To me it seems like two films: it starts out as this rather silly story about two brothers chasing the same girl (and the girl seems to have no control over her own emotions, naturally) and then turns into an exotic adventure story as Clark and Robert journey to Asia to find Lana.

The scene where Clark and Lana meet for the first time is rather cute, with him inquiring who the unknown female is in the bathroom.

clark gable somewhere i'll find you Somewhere 3 Somewhere 3 Somewhere 3 Somewhere 3 Somewhere 3 Somewhere 3

Clark and Lana were known as “the team that makes steam” and while I do agree that they have good onscreen chemistry,  personally I have never found their onscreen pairings any steamier than Clark and Jean Harlow or Clark and Myrna Loy. In fact, I find this film the “least steamy” of their three films together.

clark gable lana turner somewhere i'll find you clark gable lana turner somewhere i'll find you

The fault of that is probably on the silly plot. Lana’s character seems to flip flop between being an independant woman who needs nobody (especially a man!) and a damsel in distress that needs saving. It’s also a little disconcerting how she goes back and forth from loving one brother to another. You kind of wish both brothers would just ditch her.

clark gable robert sterling lana turner somewhere i'll find you

Somewhere I’ll Find You was definitely a “flag waver” meant to inspire war bond sales. It’s one of those films that almost makes you wince with its not-so-subtle undertones of America marching in to save the world. There’s no doubting it when the last scene has Clark declaring quite boldly, “Remember that, Tokyo—more to come!”

clark gable somewhere i'll find you clark gable somewhere i'll find you clark gable somewhere i'll find you clark gable somewhere i'll find you

If there seems to be some real feelings behind that declaration, your ears aren’t deceiving you. Somewhere I’ll Find You, if watched at face value, seems like just a passable film but its significance lies in what was going on behind the scenes.

Somewhere 6

Clark’s beloved wife, Carole Lombard, left Los Angeles on January 12 to board a train that would take her to her native Indiana for a bond tour.  She had wanted Clark to accompany her but he couldn’t due to his commitment to Somewhere I’ll Find You.  After selling over two million war bonds, she was supposed to return via train but instead opted to take a plane home on January 16. The plane carrying Carole, her mother, MGM publicity man and Gable friend Otto Winkler, plus 22 other passengers and crew, slammed into Table Rock Mountain in Nevada, killing all aboard.

Clark headed to the site of the crash and was left with the responsibility of bringing back the horribly burned bodies of his wife, his mother-in-law and his friend. The funeral for Carole and her mother was held on January 21 and Otto Winkler’s the following day.  MGM did not pressure Clark to return to the set but studio head Louis B. Mayer was sweating the cost of keeping the production on hold. He had Robert Taylor ready and waiting to take over Clark’s part at a moment’s notice.

Clark was not one to not fulfill an obligation, personal tragedy or not, and returned to the set at the end of February. Upon his  return,  Louis B. Mayer summoned Lana Turner to his office. He told her that things were going to be very trying around the set. “Now Lana, here’s where you come in. You’re going to be very patient with him. If his mind wanders, don’t be upset, you just be ready at all times. If he wants to come in earlier, you be there before him. If he wants to work through lunch, do it. A lot of the pressure of this picture is going to be riding on your shoulders.” Lana agreed and said she’d do her best.

A completely different Clark arrived on the set. Usually he would sit on the set and play card games with the crew, eat in the MGM commissary and joke with the press. Not anymore. Clark read his lines, did his work and then would retreat to his dressing room. A guard stood outside the door so that nobody would enter and bother him. Sometimes Clark sat alone in the sun, outside the studio door, just sitting there with his face to the sun. Even then, a guard stood by him so that nobody would approach him. The set had a pallor over it, with everyone walking on eggshells.

clark gable lana turner somewhere i'll find you

Lana was horrified when the rumor got to her that Carole had taken the plane rather than the train home because she had suspected that Clark and Lana were having an affair. Lana vigorously denied ever having a romantic relationship with Clark and did so her entire life. Carole Lombard did tend to be rather jealous sometimes (who can blame her) and had visited the set of Clark and Lana’s film Honky Tonk the previous year. More on that here.   One crude rumor is still out there that Clark was in bed with Lana when he learned that Carole’s plane had crashed. Complete and utter nonsense. Clark was at home, at the ranch, when he received the phone call from MGM publicity man Howard Strickling; this has been confirmed by numerous witnesses.  The Clark and Lana rumors are ones that there are absolutely no evidence of. It seems to me that Clark gets this reputation and then every pretty girl he stars with he must have been sleeping with. Lana was young, attractive and blonde, so of course Clark was sleeping with her! Nonsense. I am not a huge Lana Turner fan and I know she “got around” but I have always believed her regarding Clark. The pieces of the puzzle just don’t fit. I have examined this issue  here.

clark gable lana turner somewhere i'll find you

In her autobiography, Lana recounted an awkward dinner she had with Clark during filming:

[Louis B. Mayer said],”We’re trying to arrange for people to go home with [Clark] for dinner. If he should ask you, go. Agreed?”

“But I don’t know him that well,” I said.

“Never mind. Just do as I say.”

“I’ll try with all my heart,” I promised him.

One night Clark did invite me for dinner. A studio limousine delivered me to the house he had shared with Carole. His male servant served the meal. As we ate I chattered brightly, trying to ease the sorrow that lined his handsome face. But he never mentioned it. He was courtly, and cordial, and far too private for that.

After dinner Clark showed me his gun collection. He had been polishing some of the pieces–a cherished hobby, I thought, that gave him comfort now. Then the studio limousine arrived to take me home.

After that evening my esteem for him grew even greater. That was the first and only social occaison I ever shared with him, though we made two more pictures together and got along well. His willingness to finish the film at all showed his decency. And although some say they could see a difference in the way he performed before and after the tragedy, I for one was not able to detect it. He was the consummate professional. No wonder they called him the King.

Robert Sterling later recalled that before Carole had left, she had sent Clark a rose that had sat on his dressing room table. Some fake doves she had sent him were draped over his dressing room mirror. “She was just a groovy lady,” Robert said, “He adored her.” When Clark returned to the set after her death, “he wasn’t the same. He seemed lost. I think he only went back to work to avoid being at home alone.  And at the set he was just reminded too that he had lost Otto as well.”

Wesley Ruggles, the director, later commented on Clark’s behavior on set, “We were all frightened, unsure what to do or how to treat him. But he never asked for any favors or special consideration. He knew all his lines and did his work, gave no trouble. The only thing I will say is that his eyes were sad. When I see the film now, I still see it.”

clark gable somewhere i'll find you

Ironically, the only other film in which Ruggles had directed Gable was his one feature costarring Lombard: No Man Of Her Own. (Ruggles directed Lombard in True Confession and Bolero as well).

The title “Somewhere I’ll Find You” hit a bit too close to home, so an announcement was made that it would be changed to “Red Light.”  Clark was a bit perturbed that they would change it on his account and so it was released under the original title.

By the time the film was released in August, Clark had already been sworn into the United States Army and was in training camp. Somewhere I’ll Find You would be his last appearance on the screen for three years.

 

 

clark gable

 

 

You can read more about the film here and see over 100 pictures from the film in the gallery.

Read more of the posts featured in the CMBA’s Films of the Forties Blogathon at

http://clamba.blogspot.com/2013/01/fabulous-films-of-1940s-blogathon.html

 

clark gable lana turner honky tonk

This month, it’s Clark Gable conning and scamming a small town as a ruthless gambler in Honky Tonk.

Clark is fugitive con artist Candy Johnson, who stumbles upon the small town of Yellow Creek while on the run. He quickly takes advantage of the town’s lack of law and order. He also steals the heart of Elizabeth (Lana Turner), a Boston-bred girl with a crooked father (Frank Morgan). Although he insists he can’t be tied down, she manipulates him into marrying her and he becomes the most respected man in Yellow Creek. Her father doesn’t trust him, however, and sets out to destroy his reputation in town.

clark gable honky tonk

 

The beginning of the film tell us: “This is the story of a confidence man–that often unsung but seldom unhung aristocrat of the old west.”

clark gable honky tonk

Clark is at the top of his game here. This was the golden period of his career: fresh off of Gone with the Wind and its success, married to Carole, churning out hit after hit at MGM. Candy Johnson echoes Rhett Butler in many ways, actually–the ruthless, rebellious, charming outsider who turns out to have a real heart. Candy even busts through his wife’s bedroom door when he is denied, um, access to his own wife, just as Rhett Butler. And both in Gone with the Wind and Honky Tonk, the wives fall victim to a common classic movie cliche of falling and miscarrying. Candy’s pacing outside the door, waiting to hear if his wife is ok, is just like Rhett’s in GWTW. Also, maybe it’s just me but the music played while he’s waiting sounds just like the music in GWTW when Scarlett approaches her dead mother’s body.

clark gable lana turner honky tonk

Lana Turner was then only twenty years old and fresh off of filming Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Spencer Tracy. She had only recently proved herself to be a bankable leading lady and her salary was bumped up to $1,500 a week before she began Honky Tonk–not a bad sum, even today! Lana knew she had finally “made it” when she was cast opposite Clark. In her autobiography, she recalled she wasn’t chasing after him–quite the opposite:

I revered Gable, who by then could almost write his own ticket at the studio.He could even choose his directors. Luckily we developed a close working relationship, though not a close friendship. He had married Carole Lombard not many months before, after a long love affair and a divorce from his previous wife. I doubt that Carole believed the rampant press speculations about “fireworks” on the set between the two “powerful sex symbols” Gable and I were supposed to be. But one day I was playing a scene with Clark, and when I turned to look toward Jack Conway, the director, what I saw instead was the beautiful face of Mrs. Gable. Why, I’m not sure, but my knees went watery and I became so flustered that I excused myself and fled to my dressing trailer. I stayed there, trying to collect myself, until a knock came on the door.

“They’re ready to shoot, Miss Turner,” a voice said. When I peeked out, there was no sign of Carole Lombard. I assume that Gable must have asked her to leave, saying that the kid was nervous. When I apologized to him, pretending that I’d forgotten something and had to run to the trailer for it, that famous smile lit up his face. He said simply,”I understand.”

I have firmly never believed the rumors of a Turner/Gable affair, which I detailed in this post earlier in the year. It is my belief that MGM’s insistence to overhype the two as this “team that makes steam” resulted in these rumors, which are not at all based on fact. But isn’t that how these things always get started!

clark gable lana turner honky tonkclark gable lana turner honky tonk

Behind the scenes whispers aside, Honky Tonk is one of the films I recommend to people who are new to his films. It’s pretty much what you would expect, but it sums up the kind of movies he was making at the time quite nicely.  Candy is charming, witty and quick with a wink. Seemingly a born salesman, he knows just what to say to everyone to get them wrapped around his finger.

clark gable lana turner honky tonk

And yes, Clark and Lana do have great chemistry, although I find her prim-and-proper smugness a bit to much to handle. Lana’s Elizabeth is surely no Scarlett. She is prim, proper and oh-so-shocked at everything Candy does. When she isn’t smirking smugly, she’s whining.

clark gable lana turner honky tonk

The supporting cast is excellent. Marjorie Main adds her usual gruff dead pan. Frank Morgan is perfectly cast as Lana’s befuddled but well-meaning crook of a father. Claire Trevor is perfect as the saloon hussy in love with Candy.

clark gable claire trevor

Honky Tonk is available on DVD. Read more about the film here and see over 100 pictures from the film in the gallery.

clark gable honky tonk

clark gable lana turner betrayed

Clark Gable reigned as the King of the MGM lot for 23 years. He felt safe on that big lot, protected by their scripts and directors and the familiar faces. Never very confident in his acting ability, his home playing field gave him the confidence he needed (although, ironically, two of his three Oscar nominations were for films in which he was on loan-out to other studios). Many actors free-lanced and hopped from studio to studio, but not Clark. He stayed on as MGM’s golden boy.

But times changed. Clark returned from World War II older, grayer and emotionally damaged. Newer, fresher faces were emerging on the scene and Clark had reached an age where he was too old to play youthful rogues but too young to play grandpas. Clark was not happy with any of the films he was assigned to in the first years following the war, and most of them were flops.

clark gable lana turner betrayed

Clark went overseas for 18 months starting in 1952 to make three films, a strategic financial move save money on his taxes (I’ll save the boring tax details on that).  In succession, he made Never Let Me Go in England, Mogambo in Africa and Betrayed in the Netherlands. By the time he finished filming Mogambo, Never Let Me Go had been released and flopped. This put him at a serious disadvantage in his contract negotiation.  MGM flat-out refused the profit participation that Clark wanted (the re-release of GWTW made Clark sour on the fact that he never received any part of the film’s profits) and Clark wouldn’t sign without it, so his career with MGM came to an end.

When he returned to California after filming, the very last thing he did on the MGM lot was pose for one last portrait sitting with Clarence Sinclair Bull to promote Betrayed. Afterwards, he cleaned

clark gable betrayed

out his dressing room and off he went.  After this rather sad tale of Clark’s departure was printed, MGM publicity head Howard Strickling (also a longtime friend of Clark’s) responded in true fashion: “Clark Gable is one of the most popular and best-liked personalities to ever work at MGM. this goes from the bottom up and top down. Everyone regretted seeing him leave. This was unanimous. As you know, Clark left because he wanted to. MGM made every effort to have him stay. On the last day of shooting on Betrayed, Clark worked in the morning and there was one long parade of friends and well-wishers from every department from executives to back lot. Everyone wished him well and all expressed hope he would return. I am certain Clark could be be elected mayor of MGM if ever an election were held.”

Really the fact that it is the last MGM film Clark made is the only reason that Betrayed is memorable. His last film for the studio that raised and bred him for stardom is not exactly a crown jewel in his cap.

Clark Gable is Colonel Pieter Deventer of Dutch Intelligence during World War II. He trains Carla Van Oven (Lana Turner) to be the liaison between the British and the local resistance movement, led by a spunky rogue called “The Scarf” (Victor Mature).  Before she is put into position Pieter and Carla begin a romance. The team starts to suffer heavy losses after she joins them and Pieter begins to suspect she is a Nazi spy, while at the same time Carla begins to suspect The Scarf.

The film was an enormous flop, but regardless Clark was listed among the Top 10 box office attractions due to the re-release of Gone with the Wind. Upon hearing that, Clark cracked, “You know I didn’t win that for Betrayed!”

The film fails for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s slow-paced and rather plodding. We don’t have enough time to care about the characters. And while it’s hyped up as another steamy pairing of Gable and Turner, their love scenes are few and far between, seeming an afterthought. Also, by 1953, the war-weary public had tired of World War II pictures. Happy, cheerful pictures seemed to be doing well at the box office; musicals were booming again.

Despite this, Betrayed is one of Clark’s few color pictures and I actually think he looks quite handsome in it. In comparison to the following year’s The Tall Men, when his hair was dyed and extra makeup was applied to make him appear younger, in Betrayed he is graying at the temples, has a few wrinkles around his twinkling gray eyes and looks radiant in uniform and wool peacoats. It’s too bad he doesn’t have much to do other than alternatively scowl at or flirt with Lana Turner and peer suspiciously at Victor Mature.clark gable lana turner victor mature betrayed

clark gable lana turner victor mature betrayed

Filming was done in eight short weeks, as Clark was nearing the end of his “tax exile.” The exteriors were shot on location in Amsterdam and are gorgeous.

Lana Turner is sporting a different look: brunette! She was actually supposed to be a blonde in this film but had had her hair dyed for her previous film, Flame and the Flesh, and Betrayed was rushed into production before she could dye it back to blonde. Interestingly, Lana was the first choice to play flirty “Honey Bear” Kelly in Mogambo, but lost the part because her boyfriend Fernando Lamas beat her up before the trip. She was then swapped with Ava Gardner, who was originally supposed to have the role of Carla in Betrayed, to give her time to heal. So Ava went to Africa and Lana went to Holland.

clark gable lana turner betrayed

Read more about the film here and it is available on DVD through the Warner Brothers Archive Collection.

clark gable

Since the Oscars are this weekend….

Famed classic Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper picks out her own “Superlative Academy Awards,” from March 1941 (I agree with the first one, anyway!):

Best all-around man in Hollywood:  Clark Gable, because he has more reality and virility than any other actor on the screen. And because off screen he’s one of the best balanced men in Hollywood, a swell companion and an all-around friend.

Best all-around woman in Hollywood:  Roz Russell, who’s had more hit pictures this last year than any other actress–because she’s the most civic-minded gal in town. She blends movies, society and citizenship.

Most popular woman:  Dame Rumor. Have you got one in your town?

Least popular woman:  Lady Truth, because nobody will listen to her.

Most entertaining man on screen:  Jack Barrymore–because he never fails to kid himself, his profession and his public.

Most entertaining man off screen:  Bob Hope

Hardest worker:  Male–Kay Kyser Female–Hedda Hopper

Think they are:  Male–Errol Flynn  Female–Mrs. Eddie Robinson

Most likely to succeed during 1941:  Male–John Carroll Female–Lana Turner

Most likely to fade out during 1941:  Male–George Raft  Female–Ann Sheridan

Done most for Hollywood:  David O. Selznick, through “GWTW” and “Rebecca”

Done Hollywood most:  Melvyn Douglas

Among the men:

Handsomest–Bob Taylor

Thinks he is–Errol Flynn

The prettiest–Victor Mature

Most brillant–Orson Welles

Laziest–Gary Cooper, and he’s made it pay dividends

Happiest–Andy Devine

Kindest–James Cagney

Among the women:

Most beautiful–Hedy Lamarr

Thinks she is–Madeleine Carroll

Best hostess–Mrs. Sam Goldwyn

Thinks she is–Mrs. Basil Rathbone

Best legs–Marlene Dietrich

Most talked about–Paulette Goddard

Most talked against–Paulette Goddard

Talks most–Elsa Maxwell

Says most–Anita Loos

Most generous–Joan Crawford

Wisest–Bette Davis

Most respected man in Hollywood:  Bing Crosby–and you all know why

Best performance in the last six months, male or female:  Thomas Mitchell in “Angels Over Broadway”, “The Long Voyage Home” and “Three Cheers for the Irish.”

Most overrated performance in last six months:   Tyrone Power in “Bringham Young”.

Best actress:  Bette Davis

Best actor:  Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck

Best-dressed man:  Basil Rathbone

Thinks he is:  Adolphe Menjou

Best-dressed woman:  Lili Damita Flynn

Thinks she is:  Every actress in town

Most likely to remain a bachelor:  Eddie Albert

Most likely to remain a spinster:  Edna May Oliver

Most likely to be married: Male–Bill Holden–he’s practically hooked now!  Female–Lana Turner–again and again and again

Biggest gloom:  Jack Benny. Never was a worrier like Jack. Privately, I think he loves to suffer.

Biggest bluffer:  Laurence Olivier

Best picture of the year:  “Rebecca”

Worst picture of the year:  “Moon Over Burma”

Most successful marriage in Hollywood:  The Charley Grapewins–they’ve just celebrated theur 44th year.

Most desirable bachelor:   Jimmy Stewart

Treats fans best:  Joan Crawford

Treats fans worst:  Virginia Bruce

Can’t take a joke:  Practically the entire population of Hollywood.

Can take a joke:  Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Jimmy Cagney, Clark Gable, Pat O’Brien, Mickey Rooney, Charles Laughton.

Best sense of humor:  W.C. Fields

Think they have:  Ritz Brothers.

Has had the worst break from Hollywood:  D.W. Griffith, who started Hollywood history twenty-five years ago, but has been forgotten by practically everyone he helped.

Best lover:  Charles Boyer, by all odds.

Off screen:  Ditto, so I’m told.

Thinks he is:  Ray Milland

Most delightful child of star:  ZaSu Pitts’ daughter, Ann Gallery, who has entered Stanford this year.

Most annoying child of star:  I’ll skip this one, because I don’t know any other group of children better brought up, or receiving finer care.

clark gable lana turner

Clark Gable has been linked to a lot of women. Pretty much every co-star he ever had in the 1930’s was labeled as his off-screen romance too. Sometimes, in the case of Joan Crawford or Elizabeth Allan, it was true. Other times, in the case of Myrna Loy or Jean Harlow, it was not. But there’s one costar of his that seems to be a point of contention: Lana Turner.

Lana, Clark’s pretty blonde co-star in Honky Tonk, Somewhere I’ll Find You, Homecoming and Betrayed, was known for dating her co-stars. Married seven times, she also reportedly had a flirtation with Robert Taylor, had an affair with Tyrone Power, hit the nightclubs with Tony Martin and was doted on by Howard Hughes, to name a few of her male companions. But was Clark on that list?

clark gable lana turner

Clark and Lana on the set of "Honky Tonk"

The rumors are that they had a torrid love affair during the filming of Honky Tonk, all behind Carole Lombard’s back. The affair continued while they began filming Somewhere I’ll Find You and supposedly that Carole found out about it before she left on her ill-fated bond tour and they fought about Lana the night before she left. The rumor even goes so far as to say that Carole took that plane to rush home to catch Clark with Lana and that Clark was in bed with Lana when he found out Carole’s plane had gone down. This all seems very melodramatic and rather ridiculous. How do these rumors get started? By trashy authors out to make a buck.

There are several things wrong with this report of an affair with Lana.  Lana was twenty years younger than Clark—he was older than her mother. I know that’s hardly going to stand in the way but also she was hardly his type; rather prim and not very confident, she was in awe of him more than anything else. This becomes quite apparent if you read Lana’s autobiography.While some stars’ autobiographies seem fluffy and self-indulgent, I personally thought that Lana’s, Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth, seemed very honest and down to earth. She cops to an affair with the married Tyrone Power and even admits aborting his child. Why would she completely deny an affair with Clark? I’ve heard many a Gable-detractor sqawk that she would deny it because she felt guilty that she was sleeping with Clark when his wife died. I just don’t buy that she would admit to sleeping with several married men and go into excruciating detail about back alley abortions but then leave out sleeping with Clark out of some sort of guilt. Lana says this about working on Honky Tonk:

I revered Gable, who by then could almost write his own ticket at the studio.He could even choose his directors. Luckily we developed a close working relationship, though not a close friendship. He had married Carole Lombard not many months before, after a long love affair and a divorce from his previous wife. I doubt that Carole believed the rampant press speculations about “fireworks” on the set between the two “powerful sex symbols” Gable and I were supposed to be. But one day I was playing a scene with Clark, and when I turned to look toward Jack Conway, the director, what I saw instead was the beautiful face of Mrs. Gable. Why, I’m not sure, but my knees went watery and I became so flustered that I excused myself and fled to my dressing trailer. I stayed there, trying to collect myself, until a knock came on the door.

“They’re ready to shoot, Miss Turner,” a voice said. When I peeked out, there was no sign of Carole Lombard. I assume that Gable must have asked her to leave, saying that the kid was nervous. When I apologized to him, pretending that I’d forgotten something and had to run to the trailer for it, that famous smile lit up his face. He said simply,”I understand.”

MGM had made much of Clark and Lana being paired together, calling them “the team that makes steam” but were careful with their publicity, knowing that if they hinted that there was some off screen affair (which MGM liked to do to boost ticket sales sometimes, even if it wasn’t true), there would be serious backlash as Clark and Carole were such a beloved Hollywood twosome.

As for Clark being in bed with Lana when he found out Carole’s plane went down, that is a complete and utter fabriction and there were several witnesses to the fact that he was at his home in Encino when he got the call that something happened to Carole’s plane. Jean Garceau recalled it in her book and also for example, see this article.

Lana spoke of that troubling period on the set of Somewhere I’ll Find You in her book as well:

We had been working for only a few weeks when production was suddenly halted. Carole Lombard, Gable’s wife, was dead.

She was on her way home from a war-bond selling tour and her plane had crashed outside Las Vegas. Afterward I heard a dreadful rumor that she had been scheduled to take the train, but decided to fly instead–the reason, the story had it, was her uneasiness over my working with Clark.

Clark was devastated by her death. The whole studio was in a state of shock. A pall settled over everyone connected with the picture. For all we knew, the filming had been shut down for good; we hardly expected him to come back at all.

At the studio I found a message that Mr. Mayer wished to see me. When I went to his office he told me that things were going to be very trying for Clark and for everyone else. “Now, Lana,” he said, “here’s where you come in. You’re going to be very patient with him. If his mind should wander, don’t be upset, you just be ready at all times. If he wants to come in earlier, you come in before him. If he wants to work through lunch, do it. A lot of the pressure of this picture will be riding on your shoulders. We’re trying to arrange for people to go home with him for dinner. If he should ask you, go. Agreed?”

“But I don’t know him that well,” I said.

“Never mind. Just do as I say.”

“I’ll try with all my heart,” I promised him.

One night Clark did invite me for dinner. A studio limousine delivered me to the house he had shared with Carole. His male servant served the meal. As we ate I chattered brightly, trying to ease the sorrow that lined his handsome face. But he never mentioned it. He was courtly, and cordial, and far too private for that.

After dinner Clark showed me his gun collection. He had been polishing some of the pieces–a cherished hobby, I thought, that gave him comfort now. Then the studio limousine arrived to take me home.

After that evening my esteem for him grew even greater. That was the first and only social occaison I ever shared with him, though we made two more pictures together and got along well. His willingness to finish the film at all showed his decency. And although some say they could see a difference in the way he performed before and after the tragedy, I for one was not able to detect it. He was the consummate professional. No wonder they called him the King.

That description of the dinner is just heartbreaking. I find it hard to believe she made that whole tale up. Why would she? And it sounds exactly how he would have handled the situation. Privately grieving, but still cordial.

Another point is if Lana and Clark were having some big affair, how come they never dated when both were single in the 1940’s or 1950’s? I have never come across an account of them out socializing other than on a movie set. They were both single during the making of Homecoming, but yet no rumors of an affair? Maybe because they were both single then and it wouldn’t be a salicious tale?

clark gable lana turner

Clark and Lana in "Homecoming"

Was Clark completely faithful to Carole Lombard? I don’t know. But I just can’t see him having some love affair behind Carole’s back with a co-star like that. He was very much in love with Carole, as anyone around them could attest. If he was carrying on behind Carole’s back with Lana, that would be horribly embarrassing for Carole and of course word would be get back to her. Joan Crawford, whom he did have an affair with in the early 1930’s, even admitted that she was surprised that he wasn’t flirty with her while he was married to Carole.  Carole might have been jealous of Lana, might have thought something was going on, but I really don’t think it fits. I haven’t found real evidence to support it.

Clark Gable never made a Christmas movie. Not even a movie with a legitimate Christmas scene! Surprising but true.

So, we’ll have to settle for some shots of Clark in the snow to make things festive around here…

with second wife Ria Franklin Gable

clark gable

Strange Interlude (1932)

lana turner clark gable

with Lana Turner in Homecoming (1948)

skiing with Gary Cooper, Jack Hemingway and Ingrid Bergman

jean harlow clark gable

with Jean Harlow in Hold Your Man (1933)

clark gable

Call of the Wild (1935)

clark gable carole lombard

with Carole Lombard in Washington DC

Beverly Hills

Instead of hopping on a tour bus to be driven around, snapping photos and hoping to catch today’s stars in their bathrobes watering their front lawns, we were on a mission to find the homes of the past.

Let’s start with two of Clark’s wives…

Here is the house on Landale that Clark’s first wife Josephine Dillon lived in from her arrival in Hollywood until her death. Clark owned this property, paid the property taxes and let Josephine live there rent-free. He left her the house in his will.

Josephine Dillon's house

After Clark’s widow Kay Williams sold the Encino ranch to developers in 1970’s, she moved into posh Beverly Hills to this house on the affluent Roxbury Drive with her three children.

Kay Williams Gable's house

She had some nice neighbors: Roxbury Drive was once home to stars such as Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Elizabeth Montgomery, Rosemary Clooney, Warner Baxter and more.

Two of Clark’s leading ladies…

Jean Harlow’s house on N. Palm Drive. This was the last home of Jean, who left this rented house for the hospital in 1937 and never returned to it. Rita Hayworth owned it in the 1950’s as well. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio later lived a few houses down.

Jean Harlow's N. Palm Dr home

in 1937

Jean Harlow Palm Dr house

Lana Turner’s house on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. This house is famous for being the place where Lana’s daughter Cheryl stabbed her mother’s boyfriend, mobster Johnny Stompanato, to death on April 5, 1958. Bedford Drive also had its share of famous residents, including Clara Bow, Jeanette MacDonald, Stan Laurel, Greta Garbo and Frank Sinatra.

Lana Turner's Bedford Dr house

Bela Lugosi’s house on Outpost Drive (as I mentioned before, the friend who accompanied me is a classic horror fan). When the house was built in 1935, it was known as the “All Steel” house for having a steel frame, making it “termite free.” Johnny Depp owned it at one point as well.

Bela Lugosi Outpost Dr house

Charlie Chaplin’s house on Summit Drive. This home was known as the “Breakaway House” because Chaplin commissioned studio carpenters to build it on the cheap. It looks like it has been added on to, but apparently the original structure is still the backbone of the house.

Charlie Chaplin's house on Summit Dr

On to Santa Monica…

The Santa Monica Pier

Not too far from the Santa Monica Pier is a stretch of gorgeous beach property located on what is now the Pacific Coast Highway. This once extremely private area was referred to as “Rolls Royce Row” by columnists and was not accessible to the general public. Odd to think that now, since it currently faces a busy six lane highway! Along this road lived Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in the last years of his life (with Sylvia Ashley), Marion Davies, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, and Cary Grant with roommate Randolph Scott.

Beach view of "Rolls Royce Row"

The most impressive on this street was this beach house William Randolph Hearst built for his mistress Marion Davies in 1929. It had 34 bedrooms, 55 bathrooms and 3 separate guest houses, as well as a tennis court and swimming pool. Clark, alone and later with Carole, was a guest on many occasions.

After Marion sold it in 1947, it operated as a small hotel called Oceanhouse. In 1956, it became the exclusive Sand and Sea Beach Club. Unfortunately the main house was badly damaged in an earthquake in the 1990’s and it soon fell into severe disrepair. The majority of the property had to be torn down, leaving only one guest house and the original pool. In 2009,the property opened to the public as the Annenberg Community Beach House.

As it looked when Marion lived there. The remaining guest house is in the top right corner.

Marion Davies Santa Monica beach house

The guest house today. Usually, it is open to the public but a wedding was being held there the day we visited so we could not go in.

Marion Davies beach house in Santa Monica

Marion Davies beach house in Santa Monica

Marion Davies beach house in Santa Monica

Marion Davies beach house in Santa Monica

Marion Davies beach house in Santa Monica

The pool today.

Marion Davies beach house pool in Santa Monica

Just down the street is Norma Shearer’s gorgeous home. Newlyweds Norma and Irving Thalberg had this home built in the late 1920’s.

Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg's house in Santa Monica

 Because Irving was not a well man and often could not sleep, Norma had the entire house soundproofed so he couldn’t hear the ocean. Irving died of pneumonia in this very house in 1936. Norma moved out in 1942 but couldn’t bring herself to sell the property until 1961. Clark often visited this home to see Irving on MGM related-matters and attend Norma’s many parties.

Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg's house in Santa Monica
What’s amazing to me is how far back the ocean is from the original picture and now. Now, there is quite a long stretch of beach between the house and the ocean. This picture from the 1930’s, you can see that the house’s backyard was the ocean!

Norma Shearer's Santa Monica house


Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg's house in Santa Monica

Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg's house in Santa Monica

 

For August, I had a different film in mind but I decided to highlight Homecoming after a chat with my dear friend Debbie.

Homecoming is truly one of those films that is easy to dismiss at first glance, but it really is a little-known gem. Clark’s 1940’s post-World War II films are truly hit or miss and in most you can see his heart isn’t in it. He was different; the carefree man of Boom Town and Honky Tonk was no more. In just a few short years, he had seemed to age ten; his voice had even deepened and developed a more gravely texture that would remain. I suppose becoming a sudden widower and spending two years out of the comfort of Hollywood and in war planes can do that to a fellow. I think that from 1945-1950 Clark was rather lost. He was home again, the war was over, but, like many Americans, his life wasn’t the same as it had been before the war. Widowed, lonely, and without a sense of security, he wasn’t sure if his heart was in acting anymore and it tended to show in his movies. Critics noticed. Fans noticed. Debbie made an observation that is very profound: how the post-war themes of Homecoming seemed to really reflect Clark’s life at the time.

 Clark is Dr. Ulysses “Lee” Johnson, a successful surgeon with a loving and caring wife, Penny (Ann Baxter). When he volunteers for the Army and heads overseas to fight in World War II, he meets a snappy nurse, Jane “Snapshot” McCall (Lana Turner). At first his stuffy, conservative ways and her free-thinking style clash, but soon they are working well together in crisis and become friends. Penny becomes suspicious of their relationship when Lee mentions her frequently in his letters home. Her suspicions ring true, as Lee and Snapshot fall in love. When Lee returns home to his wife after three long years away, he is uncomfortable in his own home and is conflicted on what to tell his wife.

One of the main differences between pre-war Clark films and post-war, is that Clark is no longer the smooth lothario. He’s still a heartthrob, but more of a bumbling, faulted one. Which I don’t think is a bad thing; I rather think it adds charm. For instance, in this film, Snapshot nicknames Lee “Useless” and calls him that throughout the film. Can you imagine debonair Clark of A Free Soul and No Man of Her Own being called “Useless”? Well, he’s still debonair in that uniform though…

Clark and Lana had an easy chemistry and were comfortable with each other, in this, their third film together. This was quite a different role for Lana. She doesn’t wear a single gown or even lipstick—spending the entire film in a military uniform with her hair pulled back.

I find Clark’s chemistry lacking with Ann Baxter, however. She just didn’t fit the fretful doctor’s wife role to me. Also, it’s a little hard to sympathize with a woman who sits at home iwearing her diamonds and furs in her comfortable home and her biggest concern about her husband serving overseas is that he is cheating on her.

Well, I guess that turned out to be warranted though…

One ridiculous scene in the film has the worried Ann thinking back to when she met Clark, at a ballet years earlier. For this scene, they used cosmetic tape and stretched the sides of Clark’s face up, shaved off his mustache, put rouge on his cheeks, gave him a hairpiece and put hemorrhoid cream under his eyes. The result was not pretty, and he was far from looking like the Red Dust-era Clark he was supposed to. The process irritated Clark and he knew he looked ridiculous, so the rest of the flashback scenes that had been scripted were scrapped.

My favorite scene is Clark and Lana’s trip to a Roman pond, where they take baths, a sure luxury after months of dirt, dust and grime and only sponge baths. Clark’s nervousness while he “stands guard” during her bath while trying not to turn around and look at her is adorable.

 

I also like the last scene, in which Clark humbly confesses to his wife. I really think Clark played this role well—the husband who is sorry for what he did to his wife but is struggling internally with actually regretting his actions.

And I can’t help but think that in the first scene, when we see an aged Clark sitting in the fog with a sad look in his eyes as he recalls the past, there wasn’t a lot of acting involved.

You can read more about the film here and see more than 170 pictures from the film in the gallery.

 Homecoming is available on DVD through The Warner Brothers Archive Collection.