Today marks the fifth anniversary of DearMrGable.com!
I can hardly believe that myself. It seems like only yesterday I was just a Clark Gable fan on the internet, sharing information here and there, until people started saying, “He doesn’t have a decent website! YOU should do it!” I went from “Nah, no way I could I do that.” to hand-coding and dealing with the trials and tribulations of WordPress and Coppermine. Five years later and there are over 10,000 pictures in the photo gallery and over 160 articles in the Article Archive.
I’ve been told a few times that I should write a book. Now THAT idea frightens me! For now, I am satisfied being a solid Clark Gable archive for fans.
A very special thank you to all the Gable fans who have helped me and supported me, on here, through email and on the site Facebook page!
I’ve got lots of new stuff planned for this month in celebration so stay tuned…
This month, Joan Crawford is a plucky newspaper reporter and Clark Gable is a loathsome gangster in Dance Fools Dance.
Crawford is Bonnie Jordan, a rich girl suddenly thrown into the real world after her father dies and she finds out all his money is gone. She goes to work as a writer for the local newspaper. One of her assignments is to go undercover and get a story on a gangster, Jake (Gable). As Jake pursues her romantically, Bonnie finds out that her unscrupulous brother Rodney (William Bakewell) has hooked up with Jake’s gang and is in deep trouble.
Joan and Clark were steaming things up behind the scenes at this point and it definitely shows. Their chemistry is crackling. But Clark is the baddie here so Joan is supposed to resist his charms!
Clark does not get much character development here–his character is bad, that’s all. Much like Night Nurse, the one dimensional baddie is rather stale, but to be expected in this kind of quickie pre-code. Clark was still the newcomer here and was billed way behind big star Joan.
He gets to mutter these typical mobster lines:
“Now listen, kid. Money talks. And remember, in this business it’s the only thing that talks.”
“If we take you on, there’s certain rules of the game you’ve got to learn. Keeping your mouth shut’s one of them. But first, no matter what happens, don’t talk.”
“Now listen close. ‘Cause I don’t repeat myself! You got us into this jam and you’re going to get us out!”
“If you don’t come through, they’ll be a double murder!”
And of course he’s got some sly lines for Joan:
“You’ve got me glowing, sister.”
“You’re going to have a little supper with me tonight. Upstairs in my room. We’ve got to get better acquainted.”
“It’s hard to believe a girl like you ever came from Missouri.”
Clark is only in a handful of scenes. The film is all Joan’s, as she struggles in her usual shopgirl-makes-good way. But she’s pretty darn good at it, after all.
One piece of notoriety to the film is that (SPOILER!) it is one of the few Gable films in which he dies. Meets his end by gunshot–in true early 1930′s fashion, with a puff of smoke and no blood!
Joan once said of the film, “It was a disaster! I gave a lousy performance; that overacting thing again.” While I wouldn’t call it a disaster by any means, it is rather a play-by-numbers pre-code gangster film. A review in a fan magazine at the time states it is “a rehash of half a dozen racketeer films with a touch of a newspaper influence so popular. It is as synthetic a picture as you will find in all Hollywood’s desperate stenciling.”
The film is definitely not a milestone on Clark’s career bu any means, but it is an interesting little stepstone of a film for him. I’ve always liked to watch these little beginner films of his; it’s such a dramatic change from brutish, one-dimensional gangster roles to rogue leading man just a few short years later.
Read more here and see pictures from the film in the gallery.
Seventy-five years ago this week, on June 27, 1939, Clark Gable uttered what was to be the sentence that followed him around the rest of his life and beyond–”Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
June 27 was the the last day of principal filming on Gone with the Wind, and even though the film was not shot in sequence at all, it happened to be the day they filmed the very last scene.
Here’s some trivia regarding that famous last scene and that enduring line:
The original line in the book is “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” Producer David O. Selznick threw in the “Frankly” for emphasis.
Director Victor Fleming also filmed a version of the scene in which Rhett says, “Frankly my dear, I just don’t care.” in case the censors didn’t approve the use of the word “damn.”
There’s a rumor that persists to this day that the Motion Picture Association fined Selznick $5,000 for the use of the word “damn,” but actually the MPA passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, that forbade use of the words “hell” or “damn” except when their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.” With that amendment in place, the MPA had no reason to fine Selznick.
There is also a persistent rumor that Gone with the Wind was the first film to feature the word “damn,” which is ridiculous. The word was uttered dozens of times in Hollywood’s precode era, even appearing in print in silents in 1925.
Selznick rewrote the final scene several times, finally completing it to his own satisfaction the night before shooting began.
MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer wanted to end the film with Scarlett racing out of the house after Rhett and him embracing her in the street.
The final scene of the movie was supposed to be Scarlett standing against a fence, gazing at Tara. The scene was shot, but only a few stills remain.
In 2005, The American Film Institute voted “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” as the #1 movie line of all time.
From February 1933:
….I beg to be allowed to take up [the fan battle between Gable and Novarro fans]. In their foolish outbursts, pro and con, they have neglected to use the one effective weapon of all–I refer them to the criterion of the show business-Variety, a magazine that does not deal in conjectures, but cold hard facts and statistics.
In the list of ten most popular players, Clark Gable’s name is prominently displayed, while Novarro’s is not included. In the list of then ten greatest movie-making and box office stars, Clark’s name is there again–but where, oh where, is Novarro’s?
Variety also lists Clark Gable as “MGM’s greatest male attraction” and in grading them gives him an “A” and Novarro a “B.” However, as there were mighty few “A’s,” the Novarro fans should not be too despondent, and as for the Gableites, well, we’re not bragging, we’re just proud.
In the face of all this reliable statistical information, it might be wise for the Novarro fans to cease shouting “Clark Gable will never be as great a favorite as Novarro.” He is now ten times greater!
Bravo, Clark, old boy! When it comes down to cold, hard facts, you’re there with the good every time. We’re proud of you.
Mimico, Ontario, Canada
From June 1933:
This is a reply to Mary Margaret’s letter, which appeared in [this magazine] in February.
In exalting her own idol, this particular Gabeite has evidently forgotten a most important fact: that Novarro has been a star for nearly eleven years. If Variety so much as mentions Clark Gable ten years hence, then, and only then, will his fans have just cause to boast that he is as great a favorite as Novarro. I am willing to wager, however, that in less than five years Mr. Gable will have taken that inevitable toboggan ride into oblivion.
One writer’s opinion regarding Gable’s sudden ride to popularity may interest you: “Gable is not a great actor. He has risen above the mob by sheer force of personality. He plays not upon the intellects of his audience but upon its emotions.”
That seems to be a fairly reasonable explanation. Gable exerts a purely elemental influence over his fans.
In decided contrast, we have Novarro–cultured, refined, a man who has always been an inspiration in the true sense of the word. The two are direct opposites in every way, so it is entirely a matter of taste.
Yes, we Novarro fans are proud of our idol. We have every reason to be. And we’ll be singing his praises long after Gable has passed into the limbo of forgotten stars.
-Coral D. Winter
3691 West King Edward Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
From September 1933:
To Coral D. Winter: Just because Novarro has been a star for nearly eleven years doesn’t prove anything. Clark Gable is more popular than Novarro, and records show it. You have no proof that Ramon still will be, and Clark won’t be a star five to ten years from now, have you? If Gable has risen above the mob by sheer force of his personality, give him credit for it. And if you doubt his acting ability, see “The White Sister,” and you’ll speedily change your mind about that. Mind you, I haven’t anything against Ramon Novarro. He is everything you say. But if I had to choose between him and Gable, my choice would always be the latter.
Well, Coral Winter, I’m sorry but you lost your bet–quite badly. Ten years later, in 1943, Clark Gable was one of the biggest stars on the planet, had starred in the biggest box office picture of all time and would continue working steadily until his death nearly thirty years later, dying just ten days after completing his final picture. By 1933, Novarro’s golden days were already behind him. His career was one of many that stalled when silents went to the wayside. Novarro worked here and there throughout the decades, but never regained the star status he had in the 1920′s.
Following the celebration in Marietta, there are a few more events in the coming months celebrating Gone with the Wind’s 75th Anniversary:
The 75th Anniversary edition Blu Ray will be available Sept. 30. The transfer is the same as the 70th and so is most of the content, aside from a documentary “Old South/New South” which compares Civil War locations then and now. For a while i heard rumblings of both a new Gable documentary and a new Leslie Howard one on the set, but alas it does not appear to be. It does include a music box and a replica of Rhett Butler’s “RB” handkerchief (yes, I’m serious.) More info here.
The Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas is hosting what should be a fabulous new exhibition displaying the largest collection of original costumes from the film (including the green curtain dress!) as well as storyboards, production records, production stills and much more. The center is also home to David O. Selznick’s personal papers. The exhibition is running September 9, 2014 through January 4, 2015. More info here.
The Clark Gable Foundation in Cadiz, Ohio is hosting an event, tentatively schedule for the end of September. The only info I have for right now is that they will be showing the film. Hopefully details will be released soon.
Watch the Facebook page for more details as I receive them!
I’m hoping more and more events pop up as the year progresses!
A fan’s poem from 1933:
There’s the rush and roar of many feet–
Young maids, old maids, sour and sweet.
They’re clamoring, they’re yammering,
They are glad that they are born,
For romance is resurrected
When Clark Gable blows his horn.
This past weekend, I was among the “Windies,” taking part in the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum‘s 75th Anniversary Celebration in Marietta, Georgia.
Three days of activities were planned and Gone with the Wind fans came out in droves…I met people from all over the country, from Italy, England and Russia. (Shout out to Kendra, Robbie and Marissa, who made the event so enjoyable for us!)
On Friday, we attended a satire play of Gone with the Wind called “The Wind Has Left,” with Patrick Curtis (toddler Beau in GWTW) as Rhett and Morgan Brittany (Vivien Leigh in “The Scarlett O’Hara Wars” and “Gable and Lombard”) as Scarlett. It was rather silly but it was supposed to be. Afterwards was a Q&A with Morgan, Patrick, Mickey Kuhn (Beau as a child) and Greg Giese (Beau and Bonnie as infants). Even though I have been to a few events with these four, they always manage to tell us something new and interesting. As a classic movie fan, I eat up Morgan’s tales of working with Alfred Hitchcock and Henry Fonda, and Mickey’s of Rosalind Russell and the set of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Friday night was the costume ball and the Gone with the Wind fans came out in their Civil War-era finest, with hoopskirts everywhere and Confederate uniforms too. Dinner was served and there was an auction for who got to lead the Virginia Reel with the reigning Miss Georgia (Mickey Kuhn was the winner).
Saturday I attended the Author’s Forum, which included several authors of Gone with the Wind-related books:
Kendra Bean – Vivien: An Intimate Portrait
Phillip Done – The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales From Gone With the Wind & the
Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister
Anne Edwards – Re-release: Road to Tara; Scarlett and Me; Vivien A Biography
Susan Lindsley – The Bottom Rail; Margaret Mitchell: A Scarlett or a Melanie;
Susan Myrick of Gone With the Wind: An Autobiographical Biography
David O’Connell – The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz: Inspired by
Sally Tippett Rains – The Making of a Masterpiece: The True Story Behind Gone
With the Wind
Doug Tattershall – Belle Brezing: American Magdalene
Marianne Walker – Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind
Gone With the Wind; The Graves County Boys
Victoria Wilcox – Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday – Inheritance Book 1;
Gone West Book 2
John Wiley – Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey From
Atlanta to Hollywood (with Ellen Brown) New book release: October 2014
Kathryn Witt – Re-release: The Secret of the Belles
On Saturday night I accompanied some other fans to the Georgian Terrace Hotel, which was the site of the premiere reception of Gone with the Wind in December 1939. (Loews Grand Theater, where the premiere took place, was down the street and burned down several years ago).
Sunday was the autograph signing, where the celebrities and authors were all available to sign their books and pictures. We always man Patrick Curtis’ table and it’s fun to see everyone and be in the middle of the crowds!
There are more events coming toward the end of the year, so that isn’t it for celebrating the 75th anniversary!
More pictures of the event can be seen on the site Facebook page.
From February 1936:
At a party we saw Mrs. Clark Gable chatting with the ex-wife of a famous star.
“My husband didn’t play fair about alimony,” said the ex-wife. “I gave him the most dignified divorce Hollywood ever saw. I chaperoned him and his girl friend for months to avoid scandal. Now she has him when he’s on top. I worked for him during the building years.”
Mrs. Gable nodded quietly. “I know a little about building myself.”
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