First off, let me apologize for my lack of updates recently. I have packed up my entire life and moved across town, which always seems like less of a chore than it actually ends up being. Among the many advantages of my new home is that I finally have an office, or “classic movie den” to call my own. While I shifted through boxes and boxes of paperwork, I finally organized all these articles that have been simmering on my desk for literally years. The good news is that I have 52 Clark Gable articles to type. The bad news is I have to type them. Oh well, let’s start with one, shall we?
This article from 1935 is pretty much just an advertising gimmick for Clark Gable and Robert Montgomery’s latest co-starring venture. Forsaking All Others (which was Movie of the Month last month). It has a brief essay written by Clark about Bob and one written by Bob about Clark. They are not too fluffy but again, the point here is to plump up their friendship for the benefit of ticket sales. Clark and Bob were indeed friends, but I don’t think they would list each other as members of each of their tight knit circles.
Here are some highlights of what Bob had to say about Clark:
I only hope that Clark receives as many compliments for me as I do for him! The lovely ladies who act opposite him like him. All the rest of the people on the set, from prop boys up or from the director down, like him. The nicest people in Hollywood like him. I know, because they’re always coming up and telling me so!
Now I agree perfectly with the unanimous appraisal of Clark Gable as the most likable sort of fellow. But I want to confess something. I get a personal kick from the way people look at me when they finish saying a kind word about him.
They speak and then peep at me in a fashion that I can describe most accurately as “suspicious.” When I say that I, too, think he’s great, they give me that sickly smile and seem to be inwardly murmuring, “The liar!”
Clark and I have often dismissed our “rivalry.” Since each of us is happily married, any possible rivalry is limited to the studio confines. By those who are informed on state secrets, I mean. Clark and I are the only two in town, I guess, who are uncertain about the whole thing. We get together for “wondering bees!”
In spite of Clark’s breaks, his progress, in my estimation, has been due to his worth, rather than to luck. His meteoric rise was enough to dazzle any fellow. He could have sat back and taken it easy; he could have gone along elegantly just on personality. But he didn’t. He put real thought and effort into every part, and still does. That’s one reason why I respect him. The ordinary actor isn’t so much different from the person who has to reach for the first olive after opening a jar of them. There isn’t much to spur him on to dig down for the other olives. They’ll probably roll out.
Clark is definitely a man’s man—in his manner of thinking and behaving, and in his way of living. Although he has been flattered to the extreme, he hasn’t let himself go soft.
He has had to withstand more public pressure than any man in Hollywood. Every move he has ever made has been spotlighted. He has had countless opportunities to go haywire. And yet he hasn’t. Furthermore he isn’t namby-pamby. He doesn’t deny anything he has ever done. Whenever he has made mistakes—and who of us hasn’t made plenty?—he has admitted them…to the press. Believe me, that takes courage!
A trait I have detected in Clark from the beginning is his absolute understanding of himself. It’s important that we should correctly estimate ourselves. If Clark has ever deviated, briefly, from his own conception of his abilities, nothing could be more natural—for he is such a target for everyone’s ideas as to what he should do. But he can retrace the road to his original self better than anyone I know.
He doesn’t go in for a chauffeur for himself, or for any excessive star trimmings. His idea of relaxation is jumping into his car and heading for the mountains to hunt. There’s a spot in Arizona that fascinates him. The people there aren’t film-goers. They don’t know who he is; all they know about him is that he’s that very regular guy who blows in from California twice a year. He stays at various cabins, pays for his board, and sits up half the nights talking with “the natives”—about everything under the sun.
I hate one-track individuals. Clark tried an assortment of jobs before he ever determined on becoming an actor, and he could get along anywhere. With his adaptability, his intelligence, and his charm, he could step out of the movies and click in any number of other businesses.
You have heard how stars are pestered and how they have to slink down alleys and rush away in deep disguise, Well, let me tell you about this Gable. Frequently, he eats lunch in a little restaurant a half-block down Washington Boulevard from the studio. When he’s eating in the studio café, he’s generally upon a stool at the counter, tearing into a huge dish of stew. You draw your own conclusions!
His principal virtues are his steadfastness and sincerity. But I can’t overlook Clark’s tact. He is a whiz at tact. Now, this counts at any line, but it is one essential to sticking around long in pictures. People who probably are not the chummiest of folk are Clark’s close friends. What I’d like to know, Clark, is—what’s your system?
It isn’t being silent, or being afraid to be frank. Clark is not a dodger when you ask him questions. Still, he makes friends of foes. Smart boy–!
Clark is like me in that he appears to be light and airy, yet is pretty serious underneath it all. He plans ahead—not calculatingly, but sensibly. He has a great sense of humor—but he doesn’t go in for kidding himself. And he never will.
One of the things I find so refreshing about Clark is that everyone seemed to have the same impression of him. There are not many contradicting stories about the man. He was humble, he was honest, he was likable, dependable and down to earth. A grand summary of Clark, Bob had provided here.
Now what did Clark have to say about Bob?
Bob is not the least disappointing in person. He is the same gay, light-hearted, romantic fellow you see in his pictures. There’s a jaunty, friendly way about him that immediately wins your approval. Even his clothes—and he’s usually comfortably nonchalant, despite his expensively tailored wardrobe—have a delightfully informal air.
He couldn’t be boring or stuffy if he tried, because he’s too full of the zest for living. Dat ol’ debbil Fame hasn’t lured him into “taking it big.” He is sincerely interested in people and nearly always has someone with him. Bob isn’t moody or morbid. Or arty.
We have the same pet sports—hunting and horses. We’ve never gone hunting together yet, because we’ve never been able to make our time between pictures jibe. As for our mutual interest in horses, Bob is going in for steeple-chasing and high-jumping at present and I’m being a little less ambitious. I merely ride—and speculate as to whether my best horse is going to do right by me when I enter him in the next big race.
One of the qualities I particularly envy in Bob is his ability to meet any situation that may arise. Figuring ahead what you’ll do is one thing. Reacting instantaneously is another. You can’t floor the boy! His brain functions trigger-fashion and it would take a better man than Gungha Din to stump him.
As a business man, for instance, he is very shrewd. He didn’t fall into his Hollywood success. There were years on the stage when he was struggling along on a small and shaky salary. So he has behaved with praiseworthy foresight since establishing himself in pictures. He lives comfortably, but he hasn’t bought a mansion. He rents a house from John Mack Brown. He isn’t putting on any front to impress. His home is for his family and his friends. His earnings are carefully invested.
Bob isn’t gullible. And, believe me, that’s a very helpful characteristic out here. They don’t try to sell you the subway or the Empire State Building, but practically everything else can be had “at a great bargain, just for you!”
There’s an amazing contradictory streak in him. He doesn’t take things seriously, and yet, undoubtedly, he does. It’s difficult to explain. All the hullabaloo made about stars doesn’t fool him—he accepts it as fun and phoney-business. But he is profoundly concerned, nevertheless, with things being as they should be. He’s still idealistic.
He is one of the leaders in the Screen Actors’ Guild and is constantly battling for justice, for better conditions for the actors. Not just for himself, but for our profession as a whole.
I hate to go through a picture with those extraordinarily arty souls who have illusions of grandeur. They carry on as though they had the weight of the world on their shoulders. Hey can’t be natural for dear it will shock the prop-boys–or spill the beans about themselves! Bob, now, goes at it with a keen sense of humor. He enjoys the actual acting.
We’re going to work together again soon, in “Mutiny on the Bounty,” and there’s a lot of swell swashbuckling written into the script. It’s an assignment that suits me to a T.
That last snippet is interesting, as Montgomery didn’t appear in Mutiny on the Bounty. I assume he was considered for the role that eventually went to Franchot Tone? Hmmm.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.