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Clark Gable 1901 - 1960


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Maybe he wasn't my favorite, but he was a great actor who never got over Carole Lombard's untimely death.  He could do both comedy and drama.  He was the King (he also served his country during WWII).  Thankfully, courtesy of TCM and other sources of classic movies, others (like myself) have gotten the opportunity to know him.

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Always liked him.  Regardless of his age.  And mustached or not, always brought a flair to the movie roles he played.  Could play a reporter, race car driver, pilot and gambling house owner with equal aplomb.  Could make people laugh and bring them to tears with little effort and sometimes both in the same movie.

It didn't get much better than that.

I was nine years old when he died and was already a long time fan.

Sepiatone

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Clark Gable is my 10th favorite leading actor of the studio era.     Gable was versatile.   He could be charming,   play the bad-boy-type,  be a confident hero,  and was good at comedy.  

 My 10 favorite films of his are:

Red Dust - 1932 - Jean Harlow and Mary Astor are the women after his affections. 

No Man of Her Own -1933 -  Carole Lombard is in this pre-code.   

It Happened One Night - 1934 - Claudette Colbert

Manhattan Melodrama - 1934 - William Powell and Myrna Loy

China Seas - 1935 - Harlow,   Wallace Berry

Wife vs Secretary - 1936 - Harlow,  Loy,  Jimmy Stewart 

Test Pilot - 1938 - Spencer Tracy,  Loy 

Gone with the Wind - 1939 - Vivien Leigh,  Leslie Howard,  Olivia DeHavilland 

Mogambo - 1953 - Ava Gardner,   Grace Kelly

The Misfits - 1961 - Monroe,  Monty Cliff, 

 

 

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The one time Gable worked with Capra in It Happened One Night, aside from being one of his most likeable characterizations, he played a more down to earth, regular guy, "man of the people" type than in his films at home studio MGM where he was hyped as some kind of Olympian sexual God, a rakish leer on his lips, pure cat nip to the ladies.

Gable's best films were 95% behind him after GWTW. With a handful of exceptions I find most of his films at MGM to not be particularly impressive. Isn't it interesting that the two films for which the actor remains best remembered today, GWTW and It Happened One Night, were both made on loan outs to other studios?

And without GWTW just how well remembered would Gable be today? I suspect not very.

I find that a number of other major male stars of the same era, Bogart, Cooper, Flynn, Jimmy Stewart, among others, have an overall more impressive collection of films that hold up better than Gable's MGM collection. Then, again, I've never been a particular big fan of that studio so I guess that has a lot to do with it.

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Gone With the Wind was a loan-out, but it was a pretty sweet loan-out for MGM, it looks like. According to Wikipedia:

 MGM would provide Gable and $1,250,000 for half of the film's budget, and in return, Selznick would have to pay Gable's weekly salary; half the profits would go to MGM while Loew's, Inc—MGM's parent company—would release the film.[5][8]

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57261eecd0a18__clark-gable.jpg

Gable was the first classic movie star I fell in love with as a teen, most likely in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.  Already mentioned he was great in every role, even costume pictures. It's not his mustache, it's his dimples.

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He likes horses with oversize ears too!

Posted on Pinterest  "Clark Gable and his horse" Uh...that's a mule, obviously Clark liked horses with even BIGGER ears!

62e61f29ecd5fcb5f509305ee15d8490.jpg

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I disagree with Tom because  Many people became huge fans of Clark before GWTW.  It may have been his most memorable role, certainly.  But there are some who would say they don't think it his best.  After all, I DID say at the time of his death in 1960,  I was already(at age 9) a huge fan, and it wouldn't be until I was in my 20's that I finally saw GWTW.  So I'd say if he never did that flick he still would have been well remembered.  Remember....

As much fuss was made about him in just a T-shirt in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT as was later made about his saying, "I Don't Give a damn." five years later.

Sepiatone

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2 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I disagree with Tom because  Many people became huge fans of Clark before GWTW.  It may have been his most memorable role, certainly.  But there are some who would say they don't think it his best.  After all, I DID say at the time of his death in 1960,  I was already(at age 9) a huge fan, and it wouldn't be until I was in my 20's that I finally saw GWTW.  So I'd say if he never did that flick he still would have been well remembered.  Remember....

As much fuss was made about him in just a T-shirt in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT as was later made about his saying, "I Don't Give a damn." five years later.

Sepiatone

Tom didn't even imply what you disagree with.   Instead he said that Gable's best films were made up-to-GWTW.    That supports your point that "many people became huge fans of Clark before GWTC".      

One thing about Gable's 30 MGM films;   I noticed that all of the ones in my Top 10 were made with Harlow or Loy (and the best ones both).      Gable had really good chemistry with Harlow and they were a very well matched pair in the battle-of-the-sexes.       The films with Loy worked well because in the characters Gable played in those films were a good fit for him and wouldn't have worked as well with the other actors like William Powell (e.g. adventure films).

The other two 30s films I selected were loan-outs.     So Tom's points were solid IMO.

PS:  as for the comment of  And without GWTW just how well remembered would Gable be today? I suspect not very.

I agree with this since TODAY is the key point in time,  while you were referring to how the public viewed Gable back in the 30s.

 

 

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But if you look back, you'll see Tom DID say this:

"And without GWTW just how well remembered would Gable be today? I suspect not very."

THAT's what I disagreed with.  Gable was well loved and held at near icon staus before GWTW, and would have still been no matter WHO got the role of Rhett Butler instead.  

Sepiatone

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20 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

But if you look back, you'll see Tom DID say this:

"And without GWTW just how well remembered would Gable be today? I suspect not very."

THAT's what I disagreed with.  Gable was well loved and held at near icon staus before GWTW, and would have still been no matter WHO got the role of Rhett Butler instead.  

Sepiatone

I was talking about reaction to Gable by film audiences TODAY, Sepia. It doesn't matter if he was popular before GWTW (and, yes, he was extremely popular, why else would he have been cast in such an important role in the biggest film of the decade?). But I doubt that many people today make much reference to the former "King" of Hollywood outside of his performance as Rhett Butler. That wouldn't apply to old movie buffs like us, of course, but it does to the general movie going populace today.

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16 hours ago, TomJH said:

That wouldn't apply to old movie buffs like us, of course, but it does to the general movie going populace today.

Exactly. Today, the only classic movie stars they may know are stars like Audrey, Marilyn, Dean and maybe Mae West and Chaplin because of their images used in pop culture items like t-shirts & advertising.

Most Baby Boomers (now seniors) probably could recognize & name Gable by face, but the only movie they could name he was in is GWTW. Most would have never heard of RED DUST or MANHATTAN MELODRAMA.

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

Exactly. Today, the only classic movie stars they may know are stars like Audrey, Marilyn, Dean and maybe Mae West and Chaplin because of their images used in pop culture items like t-shirts & advertising.

Most Baby Boomers (now seniors) probably could recognize & name Gable by face, but the only movie they could name he was in is GWTW. Most would have never heard of RED DUST or MANHATTAN MELODRAMA.

To that list I would add John Wayne (you see his films at Walmart all the time) and, thanks to Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland. Maybe Jimmy Stewart due to It's a Wonderful Life and Bogart (Casablanca). Add the Three Stooges. I don't know if many people today are that familiar with Mae West. I agree Chaplin is still a world wide known image as the Little Tramp, as are Mickey Mouse and, I suspect, Bugs Bunny.

I had a conversation with an intelligent, articulate couple in their '20s a few years ago and asked them which of the following stars they had heard of: Garbo, Davis, Bogart, Cagney and Flynn. They had only heard of Bogart and Davis.

Even more surprisingly just a few months ago I was talking to a guy that I would estimate is in his mid 50s. I made reference to Errol Flynn to which his response was, "I've heard of him." Heard of him! A man in his 50s! I mentioned Robin Hood as a reminder to him and there was only a blank expression on his face.

Are we going to be the last generation of film fans that cherish film stars of the studio system days? I sometimes think so though TCM's existence will help to introduce them to the handful of younger people who may be interested. But how long will TCM exist if that handful gets smaller and smaller?

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33 minutes ago, TomJH said:

To that list I would add John Wayne (you see his films at Walmart all the time) and, thanks to Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland. Maybe Jimmy Stewart due to It's a Wonderful Life and Bogart (Casablanca). Add the Three Stooges. I don't know if many people today are that familiar with Mae West. I agree Chaplin is still a world wide known image as the Little Tramp, as are Mickey Mouse and, I suspect, Bugs Bunny.

I had a conversation with an intelligent, articulate couple in their '20s a few years ago and asked them which of the following stars they had heard of: Garbo, Davis, Bogart, Cagney and Flynn. They had only heard of Bogart and Davis.

Even more surprisingly just a few months ago I was talking to a guy that I would estimate is in his mid 50s. I made reference to Errol Flynn to which his response was, "I've heard of him." Heard of him! A man in his 50s! I mentioned Robin Hood as a reminder to him and there was only a blank expression on his face.

Are we going to be the last generation of film fans that cherish film stars of the studio system days? I sometimes think so though TCM's existence will help to introduce them to the handful of younger people who may be interested. But how long will TCM exist if that handful gets smaller and smaller?

A man in his 50s not really knowing Flynn isn't surprising to me (I'm that age as well).  Flynn passed away 61 years ago.  Fame is fleeting, except for the very few cultural icons, as mentioned above.   Not everyone is interested in watching old movies and a lot of Flynn's films fit into a genre that's not everyone's cup of tea.

Re: TCM's future, the definition of "classic" will continue sliding further into the future.  It's similar to a "classic" pop radio station in my area.  When they first started in the 90s, their playlist was from the 50s and 60s.  Nowadays, it has crept into the early 90s, and there are very few songs from the 50s and 60s.  By doing so, they pull in newer listeners.  The same will likely happen with TCM, if the linear channel endures.  More than likely, I'd bet TCM will either eventually change to a standalone streaming service, or get incorporated into HBO Max or other AT&T/Warner bundled service.  They have to figure out if there are enough customers to pay for a standalone service (vs. getting an assured amount of money monthly from cable/satellite carriage fees).

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20 hours ago, TomJH said:

I was talking about reaction to Gable by film audiences TODAY, Sepia. It doesn't matter if he was popular before GWTW (and, yes, he was extremely popular, why else would he have been cast in such an important role in the biggest film of the decade?). But I doubt that many people today make much reference to the former "King" of Hollywood outside of his performance as Rhett Butler. That wouldn't apply to old movie buffs like us, of course, but it does to the general movie going populace today.

I'll concede to that a bit except your "general movie going populace today" comment.  Many people from my younger sister's age( 56) to beyond my age( 69) are among that "general movie going populace today".  And I'll bet many of them know who Gable was beyond GWTW.  That is, considering, IF many of the even bothered to see that flick.   And I suppose it works both ways.  For instance, how many of the more popular film actors and actresses of TODAY can some of us old gassers  name?  If I gave you a NICKLE for each one I could name, you might be ten cents richer!  But don't bet on it.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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56 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I'll concede to that a bit except your "general movie going populace today" comment.  Many people from my younger sister's age( 56) to beyond my age( 69) are among that "general movie going populace today".  And I'll bet many of them know who Gable was beyond GWTW.  That is, considering, IF many of the even bothered to see that flick.   And I suppose it works both ways.  For instance, how many of the more popular film actors and actresses of TODAY can some of us old gassers  name?  If I gave you a NICKLE for each one I could name, you might be ten cents richer!  But don't bet on it.  ;) 

Sepiatone

It does work both ways. I have great difficulty telling a lot of the current crop of actors and actresses apart from one another.

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22 hours ago, TomJH said:

Are we going to be the last generation of film fans that cherish film stars of the studio system days? I sometimes think so though TCM's existence will help to introduce them to the handful of younger people who may be interested. But how long will TCM exist if that handful gets smaller and smaller?

Successful modern filmmakers like the Coen Brothers & Quentin Tarentino are keeping teeny vestiges of classic film alive by referencing them in their films. Every film school grad pours over & learns from the classics-then they borrow or nod to them in their films. When the masses enjoy these new films, they often seek out the originals, ("oranges" haha) and are often just as entranced by them as the filmmaker. 

What young person isn't going to be sucked in seeing Cagney work his magic in ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES? Didn't we all get a taste for classic film by discovering the "greats"? We quickly discovered B&W movies were just as good as new movies.

21 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

Re: TCM's future, the definition of "classic" will continue sliding further into the future.

Yeah, I was just thinking the other day, I've never seen BACK TO THE FUTURE, now considered a "classic" film.

I do think think many of today's popular movies will soon be forgotten because they're really not strong enough with storyline, dialogue & charactors, relying too much on "effects". Although, our generation's "effects" movies like CLASH OF THE TITANS is revered for it's creative special effects.

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Ah, but which CLASH OF THE TITANS, Tiki?  The 2010 version with LIAM NEESON?  Or the 1981 version with HARRY HAMLIN and LAURENCE OLIVIER?  

On a related note, much as we "boomers" in our mid 20's(at the time) marveled at the effects in movies like STAR WARS and SUPERMAN,  my second daughter's generation considers them "crude and quaint".  :huh:

Sepiatone

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I'll tell you a film made long before Star Wars whose special effects hold up well today: the earthquake sequence in SAN FRANCISCO (1936), probably the first Gable film I ever recall seeing on TV when I was a kid. It remains one of my favourite films of the "King."

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Well, I know one thing about this whole "who remembers Clark Gable anymore" thing anyway.

Two hundred years in the future they sure won't, and I learned this back in the mid-1960s while watching the original Star Trek series.  ;)

(...anyone here remember 'The City on the Edge of Tomorrow' episode, and where Joan Collins playing the 1930s Chicago social worker Edith Keeler suggests to the time-traveling captain of the Starship Enterprise played by William Shatner who had fallen in love with her, that on a date they go see 'a Clark Gable movie', and Kirk hasn't a freakin' CLUE who or what she's talkin' about?)

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