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Mogambo, John Ford...Any Thoughts?


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OK I know it's a re-make of Red Dust which some will argue is superior, but I want to know your thoughts on Mogambo as a film.

 

After seeing bits & pieces of it I finally watched the entire movie last night and was hugely disappointed. There was no attempt to blend "Hollywood Africa" and "Authentic Africa" scenes-the transition in lighting & staging was jarring. It can be done better, we know it can, it just seems like the director didn't bother trying.

 

As for the director, I have tried my darndest to like John Ford's work. Overall, I find his directing heavy handed and often inappropriate in close vs wide shots.

 

Specifically in this movie, both the female leads (Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner) seem "coached" as if in a high school play. I know both actresses have talent, they've given subtle and strong performances in other films. But in Mogambo, Kelly overacts and is cloyingly silly in the introduction scenes. No woman would act like she did in the tent with her husband. Oh, unless she was 16.

 

And poor Ava Gardner is so forced and over-the-top you can't believe her for one minute. She's like a cartoon charactor. She's usually so smooth, even if her charactor is rattled.

 

Did John Ford hate women? The female portrayals in Mogambo really seem forced and juvenile, not typical for those actresses. But as usual, Gable was relaxed and commanding. He seems the only one to escape Ford's heavy handling.

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I guess I'm a little more charitable re Ava Gardner, who I think is the best thing about this movie. While in the original, I can buy Gable as this man to whom both women are attracted, he comes off as old & tired in this. It's sorta creepy really.

 

You're right--it's not very good, especially compared to Red Dust, IMO.

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I'm like Helenbaby. I think Ava Gardner is the best reason to watch this movie. I've always found it strange that she was nominated for an Oscar for this. I think she deserved the nomination much more for "Show Boat", even though it was a supporting role.

 

 

 

 

 

Terrence.

 

 

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Actually, I agree with most everything said about this. Ava Gardner stands out in everything she does, even in this tired film. But what I find most interesting about this is that Gable was looking forward to working with John Ford. But Robert O. said that they didn't get along at all. In fact, by the end of the film, they weren't even speaking. Maybe Ford was tired too - that's why the film gives you that feeling that it is tired and the acting forced. And especially when compared with RED DUST which was alive with firey fun, adventure, and sex appeal.

 

And in my opinion, Grace Kelly was just "window dressing."

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You know, he may not have liked women actors. I can think of only one woman who seemed to have strong roles in Ford's films and that was Maureen O'Hara. No other actress stands out in my mind as even being remembered in any of his films. I never thought about that before!

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I can think of a couple of women in his films that have good strong roles. Seven Women may not be the best Ford film but I enjoy it mainly because of the strong women, especially Anne Bancroft. Claire Trevor as the down on her luck prostitute in Stagecoach is excellent. Mildred Natwick & Joanne Dru in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon are wise & smarter than all the men put together. Vera Miles in The Searchers. I know that it's easy to forget these women (as well as some I haven't mentioned) but I do think he usually had some women in his movies that sometimes had to be the voice of reason & gives humanizing qualities to his male characters. Just my opinion. He worked with O'hara the most, but I think that the chemistry between her & John Wayne explains why.

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Mildred Natwick in Ford's "The Long Voyage Home" as the hooker, in Ford;s "The Quite Man" as the "Widow Tillane" and the dying mother in "3 Godfathers" was part of Ford's stock company. Vera Miles, Betsy Palmer and Constance Towers did 2 films each with him. Anna Lee, another one of his stock company did 6 films and a TV show he directed "Wagon Train".

Ford wasn't happy with Anne Bancroft in "7 Women", she had replaced Patricia Neal who suffered a stroke during filming. I just watched it again recently and though it was better then a lot of others said...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mogambo is the superior film, if only for the montage where Grace Kelly goes out for a walk, falls into danger, and is pursued by Clark Gable - a level of sophistication there that Red Dust simply doesn't have...and way sexier as well. Not to mention the entirely diagetic, extremely atmospheric soundtrack (in an MGM film! in 1952!)

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The only thing I thought was hard to swallow in both versions of this film is how they both "fell in love" so quickly. I could have bought it if they were hot for each other and wanted to have a sexual affair, but to be in love so much so that they were willing to have the disgrace of a divorce based on infidelilty after only knowing each other a few days? Unbelievable.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm easy. I love both movies! I saw Mogambo 1st and had to have it. Yes, Grace Kelly was good, but Ava was wonderful in that movie. I became an Ava fan after seeing it. Once I heard of Red Dust I couldn't wait to see it. I can't help it, I love both. Jean Harlow was really fun in her role. I watch both any time I get the chance.

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