Clark Gable - The Signature Collection (Dancing Lady / China Seas / San Francisco / Wife vs. Secretary / Boom Town / Mogambo)
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Named as the seventh greatest actor on AFI's List of "50 Greatest Screen Legends," Clark Gable reigned supreme as a screen icon during the 1930's and 40's. Six of Gables 75 feature films are remastered and now available on DVD in the new Clark Gable: The Signature Collection.]]>
Except for late entry Mogambo from 1953, these titles are from Gable's peak run--1933 to 1940. First up chronologically is Dancing Lady, which pairs Gable with Joan Crawford; he's a gruff Broadway director, she's a plucky young dancer who moves up from burlesque to the legit theater thanks to wealthy suitor Franchot Tone. It's not a great movie, but the formula is pleasing, and there's a young fellow named Fred Astaire (his film debut) in a couple of scenes. Some surreal comedy is provided by Ted Healy and His Stooges (whose names happen to be Moe, Larry and Curly).
Tay Garnett's China Seas, from 1935, was a reunion with Jean Harlow, with whom Gable had struck gold in Red Dust. The script by James Kevin McGuinness and the gifted Jules Furthman might have a preposterous plot--cribbed from Red Dust--but the dialogue is deliciously vulgar and the actors perfectly cast. Gable is the captain of a boat on the Hong Kong-Singapore run, carrying secret gold and fending off pirates and a typhoon. His real problem, however is that the classy woman (Rosalind Russell) he has long pined for has come aboard at the exact moment his bawdy mistress (Harlow) has also tagged along. Clarence Brown's Wife vs. Secretary (1936) brings Harlow back, this time as the executive assistant to Gable's wealthy tycoon. Their relationship is strictly professional, although wife Myrna Loy eventually has suspicions. Gable and Loy are cute together, and the film is a reminder of how playful he could be outside the manly-man world of many of his films.
The blockbuster San Francisco, also 1936, gives a pretty good blueprint of what audiences craved at the time. Gable is the rakish owner of a wild Barbary Coast club, Jeannette MacDonald the opera-ready songbird who performs for him, Spencer Tracy the no-nonsense priest and childhood friend who would love to reform Gable. Director W.S. Van Dyke keeps it all cracking along (well, except when MacDonald sings and Cultcha comes in) and the special effects for the San Francisco earthquake are really rather awesome. Boom Town (1940) was another box-office smash, with Gable and Tracy as Texas oil wildcatters who team up, split, team up, split, etc. Claudette Colbert is the woman loved by both, although the male bonding is the most engaging thing about this entertaining spectacle.
Mogambo is an official remake of Red Dust, with Gable returning, this time as an African safari leader. Even with gray hair, his masculinity is enough to entice good-time girl Ava Gardner and ladylike Grace Kelly. John Ford directed, which means the location exteriors and studio interiors alike are alive with Ford's expressive compositional eye. Included on the San Francisco disc is a TNT documentary profile of Gable. But these titles give a pretty good profile all by themselves. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
DANCING LADY is a Joan Crawford vehicle, with a young Clark Gable and Franchot Tone as the men she chooses between. We are in the Depression era Manhattan show business world, with Gable as a play director and Tone a millionaire playboy financing the show. Fred Astaire makes his film debut as himself, and Nelson Eddy and The Three Stooges have cameo roles. Bonuses are two Three Stooges shorts and a theatrical trailer.
CHINA SEAS is a "guilty pleasure" for director Tay Garnett. Gable plays a ship captain who does not know that his Hong Kong-to-Singapore voyage includes a gold shipment and Chinese coolies. The dream supporting cast includes Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery (re-united from DINNER AT EIGHT), a young Rosalind Russell, C. Aubrey Smith, and Lewis Stone. Bonuses are a color travelogue, a musical short, and a theatrical trailer.
Clarence Brown's WIFE VS. SECRETARY has Clark Gable married to Myrna Loy and boss to Jean Harlow. In a lovely movie, each woman respects the other. This is at least the fourth movie that Gable and Harlow made together; they were very popular. A young James Stewart plays Harlow's boyfriend and fifty years later still fondly remembered a passionate kiss they shared. Big bonuses here are a musical short, a theatrical trailer, and an Oscar-winning "Crime Does Not Pay" short.Read more ›
this gentleman was. He was an inspiration to every young boy growing
up in the 30's, 40's snd 50's I was fortunate enough to have met him
and can honestly say that he was an extremely kind and sincere person.
There aren't any actors today that can ever match up to his acting or
charisma on the screen.
- the earliest film in the set is the 1933 Joan Crawford musical "Dancing Lady", MGM's answer to Warner Bothers smash "42nd Street". Gable costars as the stage director. This was not a part he wanted to do and he is sullen but the chemistry with Crawford is palpable. As a musical, the film is better than average but not as good as the Warner's equivalents, if only because Crawford makes a dubious musical comedy actress.
- In 1935, with MGM at the height of its star power, "Wife Versus Secretary" gives Gable 2 leading ladies, Myrna Loy, the screen's perfect wife, and sexy Jean Harlow, miscast as an indispensible secretary. This is the weakest film in the set, a typical Mills and Boons glamorous and completely artificial story with Gable overacting with a vengeance.
- also in 1935, MGM released the blockbuster "China Seas", a high adventure melodrama set in the Orient. This one has the lot. It is funny (Jean Harlow at her raunchy best), corny (Rosalind Russell overdoing her English Milady)and exciting (a storm at sea). Gable is perfectly cast as the macho hero, trading insults with Harlow while tangling with crook Wallace Beery.
- In 1936, Gable, against his will, supported musical Jeanette MacDonald in another large scale blockbuster, the superb "San Francisco".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Where would he be without that mustache with a part in the middle of it?Published 12 months ago by Paul Carr
Clark is the man. Good thing he's not living now, because they'd try to make him a female.Published 15 months ago by This Black Woman
Clark Gable has been my fav actor since I was 10 years old when I saw " Gone With The Wind".Published 18 months ago by Reyna Hano
Excellent movies and set. My younger children even were surprised that they liked the movies.Published 20 months ago by Cowboybob
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