Mogambo

Doing the right thing – a trite phrase in some respects, and yet it also goes straight to the heart of the personal dilemmas which form the basis of and indeed drive so many dramatic works. Ultimately, what does it mean to “do the right thing”, or to “go noble” as one of the characters in Mogambo (1953) puts it? Isn’t this just one aspect of our human condition, that perennial struggle for primacy between head and heart? Of course there’s an argument to be made that neither head nor heart can act entirely independently, and perhaps the way this movie resolves the internal conflicts which confront its characters is a reflection of that.

The notion of the fish out of water is a useful and much used dramatic device and whole movies have been hung on this particular peg. Nevertheless, it can be a tiresome conceit if the filmmaker decides to rely on it alone. John Ford was nothing if not a great artist and therefore had the wisdom to know that while this could act as a hook initially, far more substantial morsels were necessary to build a story around. So it is that Eloise Kelly (Ava Gardner) is introduced, turning up in the East African bush where the sass and sex appeal of Manhattan are of, let’s say, limited effect. It appears she has been stood up in style by a high class date, and the philosophical way she accepts this suggests that she’s no stranger to such setbacks. Stranded in an alien environment, with no way out till the next boat arrives in a week’s time, she decides to make the best of it. Making the best of it includes trying to find something useful to do and hopefully avoiding the censure of her grudging host, game trapper Vic Marswell (Clark Gable). Nature has a habit of taking its course in even the most civilized and sophisticated of settings so it ought to come as no surprise when wilder climes hurry that process along a little. To cut to the chase, Kelly and Marswell embark on a brief affair, but only one of them is looking any further at this stage. When the supply boat arrives it brings a couple of green innocents on a scientific expedition, and signals an abrupt end to Kelly’s dreams. The young couple are the Nordleys, Donald (Donald Sinden) and his wife Linda (Grace Kelly), and it won’t be long before Marswell’s eye is roving once more. However, it would be a dull and disappointing business if that’s all there were to it; either the tides of the river or maybe the more persuasive tides of fate see the old steamboat run aground and an unexpected reunion effected.

The consensus view on remakes seems to be that they are rarely a patch on the originals. Whether or not one subscribes to that approach, it’s generally advisable to assess everything on its own merits. Mogambo is a reworking of the 1932 movie Red Dust, which also featured a young Clark Gable in the lead. Even though it’s been many years since I viewed the original I feel secure in my view that Ford’s retread is by far the better film. Of course the fact that it’s Ford’s hand guiding it makes all the difference. His little quiet touches, his grace notes, are everywhere; from the resigned drop of Gardner’s head as she watches Gable walk off to greet his new clients, to the way Gable himself contemplates his smouldering cigarette as his own chances dwindle correspondingly. There is too the seamless blending of landscape and environment into the narrative, with key moments played out against the backdrop of moonlit lakes and waterfalls. Mogambo was made in the middle of a run of movies for Ford where this professed “director of westerns” avoided the genre with which his name has been so closely linked. From Rio Grande in 1950 until The Searchers in 1956 he didn’t touch westerns, but there remains something of the spirit of that genre on show here. Ford was always drawn to the intimacy of frontier living, the  minutiae of existence of those living on the edge of civilization, particularly in the Cavalry trilogy. Mogambo recreates some of that in the comfortable and companionable remoteness of Marswell’s lodge, while the beauty and hazards of the wilderness become apparent as the safari gets underway. And underpinning it all is the threat to existential connectedness, the essential symbiosis that links everything, which is posed by the arrival of the civilized Nordleys; this is quietly underscored by the frustration felt by Gable when he finds himself forced to kill animals on two separate occasions in order to save the lives of these two interlopers.

In addition to Ford’s motifs and sensibility, a more mature and experienced Gable adds another dimension to the movie. There is that gruff individualism that he so often traded on but it’s tempered somewhat by his playing a man who has lived too long in isolation, detached from emotional connections and therefore able to bond freely only on the most superficial levels. Still, those extra years add depth to his portrayal, the passage of time, or his awareness of it at least, seem to give a greater urgency to his character’s hunger, that knowledge of the need to grasp whatever opportunities come his way before it’s too late. In fact, as the story unfolds it is possible to read the internal conflict he’s experiencing, that head and heart business again, where he’s forever trying to balance some yearning for fulfillment against his personal code of ethics. In so doing, he runs the risk of losing the greater prize.

When all is said and done, the movie really belongs to Ava Gardner. Gable was top billed and, as I’ve said, he does excellent work, but the screen genuinely sparkles whenever Gardner is there. She is the main driver of events and acts as the emotional core. It’s a superb performance by an actress at the very top of her game and the height of her allure – I’ve been delving into that purple patch she struck in the mid 1950s after having recently enjoyed a rewatch of The Sun Also Rises. This was her third time playing opposite Gable, after The Hucksters and the extremely disappointing Lone Star, and it’s far and away the best of their collaborations. Her role played to her strengths, her earthy free-spirited sensuality is always to the fore, but also presented her with more subtle challenges. An example of this is the way she gets across very clearly the illusory nature of her free and easy demeanor. There’s a beautifully telling moment just after she embarks on the steamer where she’s pacing back and forth on the deck in front of a cage containing a captured leopard, the animal inside mirroring her moves. It’s evident that Gardner is trapped too, confined in life by the limited choices available to her. Despite this, she remains the most positive aspect of the movie, representing Gable’s chance for redemption and fulfillment – she is the siren whose song doesn’t lure a man to his doom but instead leads him toward salvation.

Grace Kelly had just come off High Noon but her biggest and most famous roles were still ahead of her. Her character is immature, a girl playing at being a woman, self-centered and plagued by indecision. Kelly nails the breathlessness and deception but is limited somewhat by the one dimensional nature of the role. Donald Sinden has the rather thankless part of the cuckold but does elicit sympathy due to his forthrightness and inherent dignity. Further support is provided by Philip Stainton as Gable’s plummy-voiced friend, Eric Pohlmann as a lazy and vulgar drunk, and a quiet Denis O’Dea, whose wordless confessional scene with Gardner provides another of those delightfully Fordian grace notes.

To the best of my knowledge, Mogambo has still not had a Blu-ray release. The old DVD has been around for many years now and is pretty solid, though this is the kind of movie which could look spectacular with a bit of a cleanup and a HD upgrade. It may not rank among John Ford’s more celebrated films but it’s long been a favorite of mine and one I am always keen to recommend.

105 thoughts on “Mogambo

  1. Colin
    Well said bit of writing that hits the the target dead in the center. I love your take on Gardner’s acting in this one, as she really does shine here. I caught this one about a year ago after a good 15 year gap between viewings. The time between gave me a new perspective on the film as a whole. The older I get, the better I understand a lot of these films. Now I’m going to need to dig up RED DUST for a re-watch. Again, well done!

    Gord

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    • Well if I’ve convinced you to look at the movie again, then I’m pleased. I’ve really been enjoying revisiting some of Ava Gardner’s work from this era, and I may feature some more in the coming months.

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  2. Off topic, Colin, but how are you doing with this new WordPress Block Editor? I haven’t tried it yet as I can still use the Classic Editor, but I fear it may mean the end of my blog, it looks so complicated -and unnecessary.

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    • I can’t be doing with it either, and I haven’t really tried. I’ve stuck with the classic version, which I imagine will still be available even if it’s not actively promoted. Somewhat like the original dashboard format, it will probably still be accessible.

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      • I’ve been doing some research on the WordPress changes and have read that from August this year WordPress will be sending emails to bloggers when they start switching everyone to this awful looking Block editor.
        Apparently the new editor has what is called a Classic Block which mimics the Classic editor, but I haven’t tried it. With luck, maybe we’ll get to 2022 before the change over.

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        • Yes, I’ve found that classic block and have used it but I can’t recall off the top of my head how to access it just now – something about selecting something at the top of the right pane when composing with the new editor, I think.

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  3. You do this film a great service Colin, superb work here. I’ll re-watch with my folks (if all goes well) over the Christmas period (probably in Italian). I remember loving Jean Harlow in the original and she had a great rapport with Gable so not willing to commit to a preference as I have also not seen the original fir a very long time. It is not in fact at all easy to get!

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    • I *think* there’s a Warner Archive DVD of Red Dust, but I’d need to check up on that. I thought it was fine when I saw it years ago but it never stuck in my mind as this version did.

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      • It was / is but always seems to be out of stock when I check. I am a big fan of pre-code movies. But it’s probably been 20 years since I saw it. Much as I like HIGH NOON and her Hitchcock films, have never been a big fan of Kelly so …

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        • Ah, I hadn’t been actively seeking the movie so I wasn’t aware of those stock issues.

          Personally, I have no issues with Grace Kelly, but I do understand how not reacting so favorably to certain performers can color perceptions of movies they appear in.

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  4. I will disagree that Gardner is the center of gravity or Mogambo’s universe. There is no film without Gable. None. And I tried to think of who else could have played Marswell, and came up empty. As far as his being billed first; of course. Oh, and Donald Sinden is really a terrific actor and attractive personality, neither of which show up in Mogambo. I am thrilled, of sorts, that Red Dust in your view plays well below its remake. Another, of course.

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    • I wasn’t trying to lessen Gable’s contribution and I quite agree that both he and his character is central. For me though, the impact of everything that happens would be diminished were Gardner not there too. It’s all complementary.

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  5. Your eloquent writing here amplifies “MOGAMBO”s strongest points and its visual beauty, Colin. Gardner was terrific here, knowing yet vulnerable, and Gable certainly shares that spotlight completely. His gruff individualism is most appealing to watch on screen.
    I have not seen “RED DUST” (oddly) which surprises me, knowing the vast number of films I took in while a member of the National Film Theatre for 14 years.

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  6. Not long ago I saw Red Dust and liked it a lot. I’ll really have to rewatch Mogambo. Though I agree with you, Colin, that Gable’s extra years add depth to his portrayal, the 21 years that separate both movies are quite obvious with him. For me it’s hard to beat 1930s Gable. There was really no other man to touch him in that decade. So often in his 50s movies he just seemed tired.

    Ava can do no wrong for me (well, almost), but Grace Kelly was left with the thankless role. I always found it strange that Hitchcock seemed to have been the only one who was able to turn Grace into an incredibly sexy and alluring goddess. He apparently saw what others couldn’t or didn’t. In Mogambo she comes off as essentially sexless, despite the affair.

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    • Margot, I wrote above that without Gable, there is no picture, and that is literally so. everything, and person, both the men and women, revolves about him as Marswell. I had a conversation with Peter Bogdanovich eyas ago about Gone With The Wind, and I took the position that Gable was irreplaceable. Peter said, yes, but without Vivian, no picture. He was right. Me too, now

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  7. It’s a pleasure to read this appreciation of MOGAMBO, a movie I dearly love and for which my appreciation has only deepened over the years. I had a chance to publish a piece on it a fair number of years ago and kind of wish it had been later because I didn’t really see how rich it was then the way I do now. I wonder if there is any movie that addresses the kind of situation this one does in so mature a way, as far as shifting affections and attractions and how complex these may be in real life. No one is vilified or punished for adultery here or anything like that. They are vulnerable, relatable human beings and worth our understanding.

    And this is a beautiful film, of course, as well as being so insightful as it is. One thing I learned a long time ago is that any John Ford film does need to be a “typical” Ford film. Yes, he made more great Westerns than anyone, for the most obvious example. But he isn’t tied to that or any other genre, and as much as I love Westerns, with him I never care if it is one or some other kind of movie. His artistry travels with him, as it does in MOGAMBO.

    I’ve seen RED DUST a few times. Early on, I enjoyed it pretty well when I didn’t know MOGAMBO as well–an entertaining, kind of racy pre-code and the playful Harlow is always fun. But there is no comparison at all. Apart from the change of setting, MOGAMBO transforms the whole into a much more mature drama, and Ava Gardner’s role especially is thoroughly reimagined.

    I do consider Ava Gardner one of the greatest actresses, as soulful as she is beautiful and she portrays her wonderful role here with both depth and charm. I too consider it her greatest performance, and that’s saying a lot, though would consider BHOWANI JUNCTION a close second, and have plenty of love left for her in PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, SHOW BOAT, THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO,THE SUN ALSO RISES, ON THE BEACH. I do dissent from the critical consensus on THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, which I know is mostly very positive, but I don’t blame her–her role, like so much of the film, is just too contrived for me in a way that does not work. But so often she’s great–from a compelling femme fatale in THE KILLERS to a much later, mature character in THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA–one of the only films directed by John Huston that is carried by women, Deborah Kerr as well as Gardner being memorable–they are both at their peak there.

    One note about Gardner and MOGAMBO. In SHOW BOAT, in which she was well-cast as Julie Laverne, Ava worked very hard on her two great songs–“Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” and “Bill”–and you can hear the results on the soundtrack album; she does them beautifully and touchingly. But the studio foolishly dubbed her anyway, an unfortunate flaw in an otherwise superb film and one I will never understand. John Ford remedied this here by having Ava do her own singing–“Coming Thru the Rye” and you can here how she can put over a song while it adds to the character and the film.

    I have to say that I completely disagree with Margot in her comments, except as regards Ava Gardner. I find Clark Gable just a passable leading man in the 1930s, sometimes more with a director as great as Frank Capra, but that was on a loan out. Mostly, he’s at the most boring of all studios through those years (don’t know if this accounts for Victor Fleming never making a great impression on me–that’s a director Gable liked), and that doesn’t help. But I do respond to Gable in his last decade–he’s a better actor with age, and more sympathetic as well as deeper. The 1957 BAND OF ANGELS finds him commanding in that role, a movie so much better than the earlier Civil War drama GONE WITH THE WIND (which likely prompted his casting) that it isn’t even funny. There is a man one can care about–as well as the heroine Yvonne De Carlo who is also there. And I guess this is my day to say good things about John Huston because Gable is remarkable too in THE MISFITS, his last film and released after his death.

    It’s certainly true that Hitchcock made Grace Kelly alluring and sexy, and in a way that works perfectly for REAR WINDOW and TO CATCH A THIEF, but it’s in a more obvious way too. Tag Gallagher persuasively argues that Ford created a more rounded character with her here than Hitchcock ever did–and there are some very erotic moments. If you saw a video essay Gallagher did where she looks closely at the scene where Gable pulls the yellow scarf off Kelly and the range of conflicting emotions that play in her response, you will appreciate that she is given a lot of discerning attention and it is a fine performance, and in terms of real human dimension, maybe her own best. Far from being thankless, the role presents an interesting and engaging character. Sure, she isn’t nearly as sympathetic as Gardner’s Eloise Y Kelly is, but that’s the nature of the film and where are sympathies are meant to go most deeply go.

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    • Super response, Blake. That’s interesting about Kelly and I didn’t know Tag Gallagher took her part in that way. I must look for that essay you refer to and I’m going to have to take another look at her performance in the movie too. That’s one of the great things about being able to exchange information and perspectives, and bounce ideas around in this place.

      I was close to writing something on Bhowani Junction before I settled on this film but, as I mentioned in an earlier reply, I may come back to that. I’m one who has a very good feeling about The Barefoot Contessa. Yes, I’ll concede that the whole affair is contrived but that never troubled me too much as I think critiques of the moviemaking business by moviemakers do have a tendency to drift in that direction.

      As for Gable, I thought I was pretty much alone in actually liking how he developed and matured in later years. Nice to know I’m not the only one.

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    • Lovely reply, Blake.
      Your response to Gable is interesting. I would likely agree that Gable became a better actor with age, something not uncommon with many actors. Experience tells. In the 30s he played more two-fisted men of action and other assorted rakish characters. Fine with me. 🙂 I simply meant that in the sex appeal department no other guy came close in his early career.

      I really have to rewatch Mogambo first to say something more about Kelly and her role in the film. I found a 13 minute video essay on vimeo by Tag Gallagher. Is that the one you are talking about? I’ll definitively watch it and get back to you.

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    • Blake,

      You mentioned “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman”. Do you recommend it? It has caught my interest especially when I learned that Jack Cardiff was the cinematographer. Reviewers seem to be either in awe of it or heap ridicule and opprobrium upon it.

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      • I recommend “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman” highly. It’s the only film of Albert Lewin I really do like, but it’s quite haunting, highly romantic–Gardner and James Mason are an effective couple. Cardiff’s color cinematography is wonderful as usual (interestingly, I believe he too is off in “The Barefoot Contessa”–uncharacteristically garish). I can’t imagine it won’t hold you.

        Would recommend “Bhowani Junction” at least as much though, maybe more. That’s a textured melodrama, with lots of grace notes. I felt the postwar years were richer for George Cukor than the prewar ones–MGM was much better by then and he made other films elsewhere and with more imaginative range of subjects, like this one. If you like Ava Gardner, you won’t want to miss this. And some of us, like me, are also great admirers of Stewart Granger, who also comes over well in it.

        You’ll want to see ‘Man with the Gun” sometime for sure. An interesting Western of that time, like so many.

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  8. You are certainly not alone in your liking for the matured (a kind term I think) Gable in his post WW2 roles, Colin and Blake, culminating in his wonderful and heart-rending performance in “THE MISFITS”.

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  9. I remember reading the edition of Look or Life Magazine that reported Gable’s death and also had a pictorial on the soon to be released “The Misfits”. It turns out that it was Look (which we use to get in the mail.) I remember a picture of Clark Gable holding onto a rope while being dragged (obviously by a horse). I found the article about Gable’s passing but it didn’t include the pictorial. The article is an excellent eulogy and contains many facts about Gable that I never knew. I think everyone will enjoy reading this article from the Look Magazine from January 31, 1961.

    http://dearmrgable.com/?page_id=3662

    I found the pictorial from Look on Youtube. If you’re interested, fast forward to the 1:22 mark and watch to the 2:10 mark. I was pleased to discover that my memory hadn’t played tricks on me — there’s Gable grimacing while being dragged by a horse.

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  10. I think the comments about a wearier Gable but still looking for something out of life when he’s older is what appeals most to be me too. He never seems less virile, just living with it and not displaying it in the same way. And there is that vulnerable side that comes through, like that one scene in THE MISFITS where he is especially moving. By the way, I consider Gable the very best thing in THE MISFITS, a movie I’ve had my ups and downs with over time.

    Yes the 13 minute video essay online is the one (it followed one about Ford he did earlier that went over a lot of scenes Gallagher is good on–but I don’t know if that is around anywhere now). He may have actually gone over that scene in the rain where Gable takes off the scarf a little more in the earlier one but I’m certain he does do something with it here too. Anyway, this one you found is very much worth looking at. (But his best on Ford is on the Criterion STAGECOACH–Gallagher is so wonderfully attuned to that movie)

    I must say I had always liked MOGAMBO but started thinking more about it after Tag Gallagher’s book, where he took as one of Ford’s greatest and gave it a lot of attention. Then I started seeing a lot more in it on my own but owe Tag for doing that. When I’d written about it earlier, I’d mainly praised Gardner and the treatment of her character but she gains even more when one more fully appreciates the whole movie.

    God, how I wish there were American movies like this one. But…well, 1953, at least there will always be that!

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  11. I guess I left out the word “now” as in “I wish there were more American movies like this one now.” Hopefully, it was clear anyway.

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  12. The weekend I will be watching…
    1- SCREAMING EAGLES – 1956 Tom Tyron First time viewing
    2- BLACK ADDER 1983 The first episode of the first series. The only episode I never saw.
    3- GET SMART – 1965 First episode of the series. Have not seen since 65
    4- WORLD WITHOUT END – 1956 Re-watch
    5- HIDDEN VALLEY – 1932 Bob Steele First watch

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  13. This is why I love RTHC, Colin: your review is an outstanding piece of thinking and writing. I’ve read it over and over, my rereads being richly rewarded. That phrase of yours “the threat to existential connectedness, the essential symbiosis that links everything”, is not just beautiful, it’s a rich reflection on the human condition. Of course, I’m off now to find a copy of the movie. Long may you reign!

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  14. The films for the weekend were…
    1- SCREAMING EAGLES – 1956 Tom Tryon First time viewing – A platoon of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division is dropped on D-Day to secure a bridge. However things go wrong from the start. They are dropped miles from the target. Then there are the numerous combats with German units which whittle their numbers from 16 to 4 before they get to the assigned bridge. Then they find the bridge has already captured by another parachute unit. Not bad at all.

    2- BLACK ADDER 1983 The first episode of the first series. The only episode I never saw. Classic Rowan Atkinson comedy set in the era of Richard III. Great cast and truly funny script make this a keeper. It is a hoot all the way through. I had forgotten just how well written this series was.

    3- GET SMART – 1965 First episode of the series. Have not seen since 65 – Funny spy comedy with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon as agents of CONTROL fighting their rival spy agency KAOS.

    4- WORLD WITHOUT END – 1956 Re-watch- Fun 50’s sci-fi film made in color and CinemaScope. A rocket-ship returning from Mars gets caught up in a time warp and crashes on a planet. The crew soon discovers that it is really Earth they have crashed on. Problem is it is 500 plus years in the future and there has been a atomic war. Needless to say there are good survivors and some nasty mutant types. Cast includes Hugh Marlow, Nancy Gates and Rod Taylor. A nicely done bit of low rent Sci-fi.

    5- HIDDEN VALLEY – 1932 Bob Steele First watch-. I do not know what to say about this film other than it has to be seen to be believed. This silly mess has a ranch hand, Tom Steele, getting mixed up with a lost gold mine, a murder charge, a jail escape, a lost Indian tribe and a 400 year old Spanish treasure map. Then we get to see Steele get rescued by his girl, Gertrude Messinger, who swoops in with a Goodyear Blimp, yes, a Goodyear Blimp and snatches him out of trouble. Silly is perhaps being over kind in describing this film. A one out of ten!!!!!

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    • Hi there Gord……just a few comments about WORLD WITHOUT END and HIDDEN VALLEY.
      First up “World Without End”…….I must give you kudos for actually doing a re-watch of this juvenile/adult themed sci-fi flick. For the juvenile, we had the encounters with the one-eyed human inhabitants and spider mutants. That giant spider scene in the cave had me laughing out of my chair. For the adult, we had scantly clothed beautiful women (Nancy Gates….) and little Miss Cutie Lisa Montell. For the ladies we had Rod Taylor doing his bare-chested beefcake thing. Hugh Marlowe was competent in his typical sci-fi role. Overall, I think the story-line itself had merit, but it failed miserably from the outset with the ridiculous staging of the spaceship going through the topsy turvy turbulence of the time warp with little impact of what was going on inside the cabin. Personally, I had seen this film years ago but didn’t remember the goings on. I thought it had promise because of the nuclear theme of the time, but for it were not for the eye-candy it would have put me to sleep.

      “Hidden Valley”…….actually, I liked it. I would also imagine the 1932 audiences got a thrill of the scenes of the Goodyear Blimp. I remember as a kid growing up in 50’s and 60’s in Southern California what a thrill it was seeing the Goodyear Blimp cruising around overhead….it always caused a stir for those of us on the ground. As for Bob Steele….I have a newly found respect for his contributions in film. I didn’t remember he was the son of the prolific legendary B western film Director, Writer, Producer Robert N. Bradbury. Steele’s “Hidden Valley” was directed by his father.
      After viewing “Hidden Valley”, I took in “Wildfire” a 1945 American Cinecolor Western. Here we have Steele 13-years later looking trim and fit as ever in one of his best efforts. At 38-years of age, I was amazed the athleticism he displayed when in action. It sure looked to me he was standing in for himself…..not using a double. I strongly recommend this one if you want to see Bob Steele giving his best effort in a good film with excellent performances by the supporting cast.

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      • Scott, very interested to read your nice thoughts on western star, Bob Steele. His starring westerns were always low budget but they have a certain charm about them. I’m glad we both recognise and enjoy that appeal. Steele was billed as ‘Battlin’ Bob Steele for good reason. I also think he did a majority of his own stunts; he certainly claimed he did. For the more dangerous moves he would probably have been doubled by ace stuntman, Davey Sharp, who was a similar stature to Bob. But Steele was a real action star.

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        • Jerry from IMDb………..

          Stunts
          Rex Rossi … riding double: Bob Steele (uncredited)
          David Sharpe … stunt double: Bob Steele (uncredited)

          Even at that……it appeared Bob did most of his own stuff from hopping over fences to quick mounting and dismounting from horses.

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      • Bob Steele was a genuine film actor effective in much higher budget films, thought in support, not a leading part. For example, Of Mice and Men (not to be missed, if you can imagine Steele in Burgess Meredith’s part, you are as good a man as I am), The Big Sleep, South of St. Louis, The Savage Horde, Prok Chop Hill, and several others.

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        • Always gave great support in those later films and TV episodes too.
          I’ve watched many Bob Steele B-westerns and his athleticism (in all of ’em) was undeniable.

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      • “World Without End” was the first film I saw after we bought our first color tv back in 1969. Loved the thing since even if it is rather corny.
        While I am a big Bob Steele fan, I really dislike westerns with cars, aircraft, blimps etc. They really turn me off. I will look up that Steele duster, “Wildfire” you mention from 1945.
        Gord

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        • Regarding World Without End: Not something I would ever gravitate towards, but Nancy Gates worked with Louis (Hayward) on three fifties film/tv projects, The Lone Wolf (his series), Search for Bridy Murphy (as Hazel Bernstein), and the inaugural episode of Riverboat (which was quite a disappointment). We all worked with Rod on Chuka, and Shawn Smith, otherwise known as Shirley Patterson, was our neighbor in Toronto during the early eighties. A sweeter more attractive person you will not find. As it turned out, these people along with Marlowe created, for me, a feeling of kinship, so my attitude was warmer. The director was Edward Bernds, perfectly competent with the limits imposed. As a sound man in the early thirties working with Frank Capra, he was non-pareil.

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  15. New stuff coming on cable here
    POSTMAN’S WALK 1962 Spike Milligan
    REAR WINDOW 1954
    SHADOW OF A DOUBT 1943
    GREAT EXPECTATIONS 1946
    THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL 1951
    THE NAKED AND THE DEAD 1958
    THE BURGLAR 1957
    BLACK NACISSUS 47
    ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS 1969
    BRIGHTON ROCK 1947
    KISS OF DEATH 1947
    COVER UP 1949
    THE LAVENDER HILL MOB 1951
    HELL’S HEROE’S 1929
    711 OCEAN DRIVE 1950
    BLACK NACISSUS 2020 Three part mini series

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    • Some very good films coming your way there, Gord. I kinda assume you know MOST of them?

      We are getting what constitutes some normal winter weather here in the UK this week. Cold mainly (1 degree) but that is nothing compared with the temperatures you enjoy(?).

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    • HELL’S HEROES…….well Gord it’s about time I would think….lol. My earliest viewing of the super accomplished Charles Bickford. This guy was always a strong presence in everything he did. No matter the genre, He always made a movie better.

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        • Yes, definitely. I don’t think Bickford ever gave a bad performance. From “HELL’S HEROES” in 1929 right up to his final gig as the new owner of Shiloh Ranch in “THE VIRGINIAN” tv series. He died while making it.

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          • I really liked Bickford in “Four Faces West” as the level-headed Marshal Pat Garrett. He played that role with great sensitivity complimenting well with Joel McCrea and Frances Dee.

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      • Scott
        HELL’S HEROES is just one of those title I could never find a decent looking print of. I going to assume the one coming up on cable will be watchable.
        Gord

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    • Just feel bound to observe regarding the list above that although I cannot and will not condemn anything I have not seen, the original BLACK NARCISSUS (1947; Powell and Pressburger) is a great film, with a terrific cast headed by Deborah Kerr (and Jean Simmons is in this too!), artistic in every way and one of the most beautiful of all Technicolor films as photographed by Jack Cardiff. If anyone has not seen this, I’d encourage you to do it before considering this 2020 three part mini series, which from the trailers looks like it is glad to copy some shots from the 1947 version and possibly will lean on it in a lot of ways, though I acknowledge that I don’t know that. I have found many remakes like this not to be born of the same conviction as the original movies and to feel opportunistic in being made at all, and I feel I would not have any reason to see this when I cannot imagine it being done better than it was. I’m not trying to discourage anyone else and again won’t pass judgement without seeing it (lot of folks like the Coen Brothers TRUE GRIT, which I also pointedly did not see). I mostly just want to call attention to the memorable 1947 movie.

      Like

  16. Seen all except, BLACK NACISSUS 2020 Three part mini series, HELL’S HEROE’S 1929, GREAT EXPECTATIONS 1946 and POSTMAN’S WALK 1962 Spike Milligan The weather here has strangely been on the warm side the last week or so. I imagine that means we are up for a bout of cold and snow come X-Mass time. My birthday, the 24th, always seems to invite nasty weather.
    Gord

    Like

      • Colin
        A dear friend of mine always sends me a nice bottle of cognac and a top flight box of Cubans for my birthday. Both last me the year.
        Gord

        Like

    • Gordon,

      Great Expectations is wonderful! I also recommend Lean’s adaptation of “Oliver Twist” (1948) with Robert Newton as Bill Sykes and Alec Guinness as Fagin. Newton’s Bill Sykes is one of the nastiest villains ever portrayed on the screen. In one scene, instead of showing Sykes’ brutality directly, the camera focuses on Sykes’ dog frantically scratching at a door to escape seeing Sykes sadistically beating his girlfriend Nancy. It’s an inspired piece of filmmaking and is absolutely frightening. Nancy, by the way, was played by Kay Walsh who was David Lean’s wife at the time.

      Like

  17. Not seen “POSTMAN’S WALK” but Spike Milligan is an acquired taste (I never did) and “GREAT EXPECTATIONS” is one of David Lean’s finest films. Great feel for Dickens.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jerry, Colin
    And as it so happens, my copy of 1949’s BLUE LAGOON with Miss Simmons has nearly reached the top of the re-watch pile.

    Gord

    Like

    • I agree with Frank there, Gord, that Lean’s 1948 “OLIVER TWIST” is also well worth seeking out. Both are cinema classics.
      On the other end of the scale…… Today I watched a 68-minute B movie from Republic, “STRANGE IMPERSONATION” (1946), an early directing job from Anthony Mann and starring Brenda Marshall and William Gargan. Anyone else seen it? If anyone has, I am sure Gordon and/or John K will have.
      Credibility is stretched a bit and there’s a “Dallas” Bobby-in-the-shower moment but overall I found it a most enjoyable watch. The tranfer I saw was excellent (from Kino).

      Like

  19. I saw STRANGE IMPERSONATION once and liked it a lot though don’t remember it too well now except that it was kind of an unusual B movie and one of the more interesting of those earliest ones, all humble B pictures, from Anthony Mann. Generally, they are well-directed from the beginning–no surprise there; the first one DR. BROADWAY is conspicuously good. I’m still after three or four of these earliest Manns but have seen all his other movies.
    I won’t say these earliest ones prepare you for T-MEN or anything like that, but it’s enjoyable seeing a great director finding his way with pictures like this.

    Like

    • Hi Blake,
      Yes, absolutely. You can see that this is a B movie in the hands of a talented director-in-the-making.
      Similarly, in the past week I watched an early B movie directed by John Sturges, “SHADOWED” (1946) which also showed a director of talent-in-the-making. Another most enjoyable film.
      Both films have those extra little touches with good pacing and suspense.

      Like

      • The earliest Anthony Mann films I’ve seen are The Great Flamarion and Two O’Clock Courage, both of which I quite enjoyed. I also have a copy of Strangers in the Night somewhere, but that’s not been watched yet.

        Like

  20. Films for this weekend include…
    1- AFRICA SCREAMS -1949 Abbot and Costello First time watch
    2- CAPTAIN Z-RO 1956 Sci-Fi tv series Pilot episode First watch
    3- THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING -1975 Last seen at cinema when released;\
    4- SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE TV SERIES -1953 The Knave of Hearts. Mark Stevens, Jack Elam, Lee Van Cleef – First time watch
    5- MOTEL HELL 1980 Rory Calhoun -Saw it at the drive in back in the day.

    Like

    • It’s a few years now since I last saw The Man Who Would Be King too, though not quite as long as yourself. It has very good roles for Caine and especially the recently departed Connery. It’s said Huston originally wanted to make the movie with Bogart and Gable, which is an interesting idea.

      Like

  21. R.I.P. Barbara Windsor
    Aug 6 1937– Dec 10 2020
    The 4 foot 10 inch bundle of laughs has left us. We shall all need to Carry On without her. From a bit in 1954’s “The Belles of St Trinians” to her 1500 plus performances on EASTENDERS, she was hard not to notice. Myself, it was the various “Carry On” roles that had me in stitches. She is going to be missed.

    Gord

    Like

      • Barry
        In Calgary 60 miles from the Rockies. It has not even started to get cold yet. The bones just can’t seem to take it anymore. LOL And to think I used to like winter more than summer.

        Gord

        Liked by 1 person

    • Unseasonably warm today in Massachusetts — hit 59F. Tomorrow the cold weather comes.

      I saw “Land of Mine” which I know you’ve seen. There are some heart-pounding scenes. The relationship between Sgt. Carl Rasmussen and the young German soldiers was nicely developed. I found the movie very moving and thought the screenplay and acting were excellent. Beautiful on-location shots added to the film’s quality.

      For those who haven’t seen it, “Land of Mine” tells the story of Germans soldiers who were used to defuse 2 million mines on the coast of Denmark after the war had ended. More than 2 thousand Germans were killed or severely maimed while clearing minefields. Sounds grim but there’s a very humane element to the film.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Films for this weekend included…
    1- AFRICA SCREAMS -1949 Abbot and Costello First time watch. The boys end up in Africa involved with Hillary Brooke looking for diamonds. Wild animals and various safari types are included. Max Sr and Buddy Baer are a pair of gunsels working for Brooke. There are a few laughs but nothing special.

    2- CAPTAIN Z-RO 1956 Sci-Fi tv series – First watch -This is the first episode of early time travel sci-fi series. This one has the team involved with Chris Columbus trying to discover the New World. Decent attempt if one asks me. Of note is the director, former big screen vet, David Butler.

    3- THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING -1975 Last seen at cinema when released;\ M. Caine and S. Connery as a pair of ex Brit soldiers out to make their fortune in the mountains north of India in the 1870s. Great adventure film with fine work from all. Directed by John Huston.

    4- SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE TV SERIES -1953 “The Knave of Hearts” This episode is a western set one. . Mark Stevens is a gambler who returns to his home town to claim his girl., Margaret Field. Problem here is that Field got sick of waiting and is going to marry Rex Reason. There are other things in play as well. Field’s father, Morris Ankrum, wants to kill both Reason and Stevens. He owns a big ranch and does not think either is fit for his daughter. Easy to see where this is going. The nice big screen cast also includes, John Qualen, Jack Elam and Lee Van Cleef. Directed by Ted (MAGNUM FORCE) Post.

    5- MOTEL HELL 1980 Rory Calhoun -Saw it at the drive in back in the day. Rory runs a small roadside motel with a sideline of selling a popular smoked sausage. The twist here is the “Special” ingredients that are included. Rory and his sister, Nancy Parsons, mix in parts of people they snatch off the road at night. Then they plant them alive up to their necks to get just tenderized right. A great little low budget horror slash comedy. I liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Okay you UK types!

    While I know my early American television series, I am still at a loss with quite a few of the various UK series from the 50s and 60s. While looking through some stuff I stumbled upon some episodes of the following series.
    FRAUD SQUAD – Looks like a Police drama with Patrick O’Connell
    THE POWER GAME Not sure what it is. Jack Watling
    MOGUL 60s Philip Latham, Ray Barrett
    1990 with Edward Woodward Looks like a mid 70s production
    THE PLANE MAKERS 1963-65

    Any of you good folks have some info for me? Do they ring any bells? Are they worth a look?

    Gordon

    Like

  24. Hi again, Gord
    “THE PLANE MAKERS”, “THE POWER GAME” & ” THE MOGULS” were all related and were very popular here, with Patrick Wymark heading a cast of good actors. All about boardroom power play and the women in their lives. Quite studio-bound if memory serves me but gripping.
    “FRAUD SQUAD” was a police procedural alongside “THE SWEENEY” (Flying Squad) and “SPECIAL BRANCH”, all branches of London’s Metropolitan Police.
    Let us know your thoughts if you sample any?

    Like

  25. Actually, “THE POWER GAME” was a continuation of “THE PLANE MAKERS” whilst “MOGUL” was a separate and long-running series about the oil industry and starred Ray Barrett, Philip Latham and the always-excellent Geoffrey Keen.
    A one-off sampling of any of these series may not see them at their best as their storyline had a continuous thread running through them.

    Like

  26. Jerry
    There is the first 7 episodes of FRAUD SQUAD, the first 5 of MOGUL and the first 10 of another series called RANDALL AND HOPKIRK -DESEASED of which I know nothing about. I will of course try and work some of these in this upcoming weekend.

    Gordon

    Like

  27. Well, this thread started out by featuring a fine John Ford drama by Colin.
    There was only one western made by John Ford in the sound era that I had never seen – “SERGEANT RUTLEDGE” (1960). I can offer no good explanation of why this is so but I can say that I really missed out by the omission. Now 60 years later, I finally got to see it today and it is IMHO one of Ford’s absolute best. A strong courtroom drama with flashbacks filmed largely in Ford’s beloved Monument Valley. The film is utterly gripping. It is also a courageous condemnation of racism, especially for its time.
    Quite why the film seems to go under the radar today is a mystery.
    I would love to hear others’ thoughts on this, perhaps particularly from Blake, who is a passionate admirer of the work of John Ford, his westerns especially.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d need to watch the movie again before I could add anything intelligent. It’s been maybe ten years since I last viewed it and I know I liked it. I remember I was reading Joseph McBride’s bio of Ford at the time and that would have pointed me in a certain direction as I watched. I know he said something about Ford taking a more direct and less subtle approach to making points as the years passed and various frustrations built up and I think I recall looking for some of that in the courtroom scenes. Watching it again, without another’s theories playing in my mind, might see me looking at it all in a different light. I do know that I felt the critique of racism was central to the movie and that it was powerfully conveyed.

      Like

    • A little belated I know…

      Yes, SERGEANT RUTLEDGE is a wonderful Ford film. I’ve seen it many times but as I hadn’t watched in in a long time, the last time was earlier this year. I chose it for my birthday, having it in mind many months before that (in June). Then at the time, it was unexpectedly especially resonant as we all know so was especially appreciative of that aspect of it, It’s powerfully insightful on racism for sure and weaves a good story around it.

      Though the flashback structure is effective and the courtroom scenes work well with artful transitions, the flashbacks when it gets out to Monument Valley have most of its best scenes, that customary magisterial quality and such moving sequences as the death of Moffett, and Rutledge’s heroic returns to the troops rather than escaping, showing his courage and depth of character. At the same time, the big moment of Rutledge’s moving declaration on the witness stand is a high point even beyond that.

      I’ve come to feel there is a slight weakness in those last reels after that as Cantrell solves the mystery and reveals the rapist/murderer in the courtroom, Perry Mason style. It plays well but Rutledge himself is a passive figure in those last twenty minutes and has nothing more to do in the film. Really, he is the center and Woody Strode’s performance under Ford’s caring direction is just superb, as anyone would expect. I stress that slight falling off in the last part does not pull the film down much. I care about it a lot.

      Jerry, I just want to clarify one thing re “…a passionate admirer of the work of John Ford, his Westerns especially,” As much as I love Westerns and as much as Ford did with the genre, more than anyone in my view, he is the one director where I don’t single out the Westerns and am as glad for him to do any other kind of film, which is so often just as great. I’d say he appreciated what Westerns could give his body of work and am glad he often favored them as he did at times. But he’s a great artist in the broader picture.

      With some other directors, it is mostly their Westerns that elevate them for me–in Anthony Mann’s case they bring him into my top tier and he did make other outstanding films. The Westerns of Boetticher, Daves, Sturges, and others stand out in their bodies of work. With Peckinpah I’m not even very interested in his other movies though I care a lot about his Westerns and would have deep affection for him just for RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Jerry
    I caught “SERGEANT RUTLEDGE” a few months ago as a film for the weekend. It was about the 4th time I’ve seen it. Like most Ford films, it just gets better every time I see it.

    Gordon

    Like

  29. Mogambo is a strangely compelling film. I couldn’t believe Ford directed it. I’m totally in the bag for his westerns and yet so many of his nonwesterns are so lovely too. I totally agree about Gardner one cant take their eyes off her in this film. Magic really. Gable is great too of course. Man him in the Misfits so moving. I agree that a hidef of Mogambo would be great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s been discussed above how Ford was not only a western director and how his art was diverse and encompassed all genres. I sometimes think that comment by the director himself is partly responsible for this view – he was, after all, partial to creating images and conceptions of himself which were, let’s say, embellished and dressed up a little.
      As you would expect, this is a beautifully shot movie and I would imagine it will appear in Hi-Def in due course.

      Like

  30. I was very pleasantly surprised by MOGAMBO. I do love RED DUST but you may be right – MOGAMBO may be the better film.

    Ava Gardner is criminally underrated. She felt that she was given very few good meaty roles and she was probably right.

    She also appeared in a few unsuccessful but interesting movies, like PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. I’m quite fond of movies that are interesting failures, especially when they’re ambitious interesting failures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At her peak, Ava Gardner was superlative. The camera loved her and I think her natural beauty blinded some to the powerful work she did on screen.
      As for Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, I like it, even more so when I had the chance to see it in high definition.

      Like

        • It’s difficult to know which Blu-ray is the more accurate though. I have the UK Park Circus (out of print now I think) and was fine with that. However, there is a newer US disc from Cohen with a radically different look, very yellowish.

          Like

    • I think Gardner adds a whole different dimension to the part. And as was mentioned before, the dynamic between her and the older Gable enriches the story too. That said, I think the different preferences viewers express demonstrates the validity of remakes and other versions of stories.

      Liked by 2 people

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