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#071. Clark Gable

If you’ve ever walked down a seaside boardwalk, you’ll see a lot of different artists, both performance and traditional. Among the human statues, magicians, and musicians is often a caricature portrait artist. This artist will usually have some examples of his work, which usually picks up on the unique properties of a person’s face and exaggerates them to comical effect. Often, they will have pictures of famous movie stars drawn in this style to give an idea of what to expect. Now, if Clark Gable were to get his caricature done, it would most certainly point out that he has somewhat large ears. Of course, this never stopped him from being the suave man in control on the big screen. And even though this characteristic is often parodied in animated fare, the fact that he won a Best Actor Oscar still remains a fact. This week’s two films highlight some Oscar nominated performances by Clark Gable, but ironically enough, neither is the film in which he won the award.

Mutiny on the BountyMutiny on the Bounty
Year: 1935
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 132 minutes / 2.2 hours

In 1934, Clark Gable starred in a little comedy directed by Frank Capra known as It Happened One Night. This role garnered him a lot of attention and a year later he was once again cast in a leading role for a true story on the high seas, Mutiny on the Bounty. And even though his ears may have stuck out a little bit, that slick hair made up for it in spades. While he didn’t have his somewhat trademark pencil-thin mustache in this film, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in the end, since he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Partially due to this film’s success, it was remade in 1962 under the same name and with Marlon Brando playing the part that Clark Gable once inhabited. Of course, the 1935 version remains the classic and is obviously a great story (the remake was also nominated for 7 Oscars, although it didn’t win any).

Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) is first mate on the HMS Bounty. This ship and its crew are heading to Tahiti under the guidance of Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton), who is a stickler for discipline. It seems that his crew can do nothing right, so as punishment, almost every one of them is eventually flogged. This type of punishment does not sit well with Christian, who sympathizes with the crew at their coarse treatment. In collaboration with other crew members, they decide that enough is enough. What prompts this increase in courage? They had finally arrived at Tahiti and had gotten involved with the locals there. The local women, to be specific. After they have finished the job they came for and have arrived back at sea, Christian leads a revolt against the tyrannical captain and guides the ship back to the middle of the Pacific Ocean in order to let the crew enjoy the rest of their lives on the island paradise of Tahiti.

Gone with the WindGone with the Wind
Year: 1939
Rating: PG
Length: 238 minutes / 3.97 hours

Clark Gable is one of those suave actors from the late 1930’s that everyone always associates with one film. Of course, outside of Gone with the Wind, Clark Gable has made many other films, and what may be interesting is that while everyone knows him from this film, it is not the one he won his Oscar for. In fact, Of his three nominations, he only won one Best Actor Oscar, and that was for It Happened One Night (which, coincidentally, won the “Big Five” that year (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay)). Still, his nomination for Gone with the Wind (and the aforementioned Mutiny on the Bounty) was well deserved. And even if we can’t remember who won Best Actor that year off the top of our heads, it just goes to show that Gable’s performance was truly timeless.

Life was good in the South if you had the right background. For instance, if you were Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh), the daughter of wealthy plantation owners, you would spend your life being selfish and whining over all the things you don’t have, despite living a life of luxury. When she goes to a ball to confess her love to a man who is about to marry someone else, she doesn’t notice that there is another man there as well, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Unfortunately, the Civil War breaks out, and plunges the South into poverty. Scarlett struggles on, not only through poverty, but through a few different marriages until she finally comes upon Rhett once again. Of course, by now it is clear that the relationship won’t work and in the words of Rhett, “Frankly, my dear. I don’t give a damn.”

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Clark Gable performances

Bacon #: 2 (Making the Misfits / Eli Wallach -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)


4 responses to “#071. Clark Gable

  1. Pingback: End of Act Two | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: #070. Mutiny! | Cinema Connections

  3. Pingback: #090. Frank Capra | Cinema Connections

  4. Pingback: #091. Road Trip! | Cinema Connections

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