Live in the U.S.? Have Turner Classic Movies on your cable system? Then there's some good news...on Saturday night, you can enjoy a five-course film feast of Clark Gable. The menu is varied, showing Gable in a variety of genres -- but all with the charm that made women wish they knew him and men wish they were him. If you only know Gable as Rhett Butler (or as Carole Lombard's second husband), this is a pretty good way to get acquainted with his considerable skill as an actor. The schedule (all times Eastern):
8 p.m. -- "The Misfits" (1961). Here, the last is first, as Gable's final film kicks off the evening. As most know, it also turned out to be Marilyn Monroe's last movie, and one of the last Montgomery Clift made. So there's understandably an elegiac air in this John Huston-directed film, with a screenplay by Monroe's husband, Arthur Miller. Monroe plays a recent divorcee who becomes involved with two modern-day cowboys. This is part of TCM's "The Essentials" series for 2008, and it will be interesting to note the comments of both Robert Osborne and co-host Rose McGowan (who so far has received generally positive notices throughout the blogosphere for her knowledge of classic film).
10:15 p.m. -- "Teacher's Pet" (1958). After playing in mostly dramas and westerns for much of the fifties, Gable shifted gears and returned to his romantic comedy roots for this smart film, in which he plays a gruff city editor who enrolls undercover in a journalism course in order to show the instructor (Doris Day, in one of the first of her "professional" roles) the error of her ways after she publicly criticizes his newspaper tactics. Of course, things end up a bit differently. Gable's nearly two dozen years older than Day, but they nevertheless have a splendid chemistry. Also features a fine supporting turn by Gig Young as Day's "perfect" boyfriend (for which he won an Oscar nomination) and a good part for Mamie Van Doren of bullet-bra fame as a shapely nightclub singer. (Van Doren, born Joan Olander in South Dakota, remembers as a child seeing Gable and Lombard arrive at a nearby airport to go pheasant hunting.)
12:30 a.m. -- "Wife Vs. Secretary" (1936). It's back to the thirties-era Gable for this romance, which has plenty of MGM starpower: Myrna Loy as the wife, Jean Harlow as the secretary, even James Stewart in a supporting role (although he wouldn't become a full-fledged star until later in the decade). A solid romantic picture about the battle between work and home, with more texture than the stereotypical title would indicate. (Then again, with the likes of Gable, Harlow and Loy, you would expect texture.)
2 a.m. -- "Boom Town" (1940). We've already discussed this film in the context of co-star Hedy Lamarr, who Lombard initially feared might pose a threat to her where Gable was concerned (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/91785.html). This tale of oil exploration also marked Gable's last film with good friend Spencer Tracy, and his first with Claudette Colbert since both won Oscars for "It Happened One Night" six years before.
4:15 a.m. -- "The King And Four Queens" (1956). Released late in the year, this western features "the King" as a western con man trying to discover where $100,000 in stolen treasure is found, and seducing four widowed sisters (the "queens") to do it. Co-starring Eleanor Parker; one of her other sisters is played by brassy, buxom Barbara Nichols, better known for playing showgirls and floozies than for her work in period pieces. Best reviews went to Jo Van Fleet as the girls' feisty mother. Incidentally, Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Waterfield, then married to Jane Russell, produced this film.