Yesterday, the one who was known as The King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, would have turned 117 years old. For the occasion, my friend Michaela over at Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting the Clark Gable Blogathon. The charismatic actor played in a load of great movies that are today known as important classics such as Gone With the Wind, It Happened One Night or The Misfits. With such good material, it was difficult to make a choice, but I decided to go with a more obscure one: Cain & Mabel, a 1936’s comedy directed by Lloyd Bacon and also starring the energic Marion Davies. I had seen the film once before and remembered enjoying it a lot, so I thought it would be a good occasion to re-visit it.
After having lost her job as a waitress, Mabel O’Dare (Marion Davies) becomes a Broadway star. One night at the hotel she is rehearsing her tap dancing for a show opening the following day. Prize-fighter Larry Cain (Clark Gable) occupies the room underneath and wants to get some sleep to be in shape for his fight the following evening. But he can’t as he is disturbed by Mabel’s dancing and music. So, as he comes to her room to complain, the two develop a hate for each other. However, their entourage encourages them to pretend to like each other as this would be a great publicity stunt and a good way to make money. But eventually, the two really fall in love with each other and things become even more complicated…
As I was watching the film yesterday, I wondered if Hitchcock was inspired by this scene were Mabel and Larry meet for his seen where Iris and Gilbert meet in The Lady Vanishes (1938)…
Cain & Mabel is the occasion for you to see Clark Gable without his iconic moustache! Honestly, I think he looked fine with or without it. Clark Gable and Marion Davies had already been paired before in a movie called Polly of the Circus (Alfred Santell, 1932), which I haven’t seen. Their teamwork proves us a great chemistry between them. They both had a good sense of comedy making the movie lively enough. It is easy to believe in what their characters think of each other.
Marion Davies is the first of the two stars to be introduced to us. At one point, we wonder if Clark Gable will finally appear, but it doesn’t take him too long! What I like about Clark in this film, is that he can be funny without necessarily doing the clown. For example, during that fight following his sleepless night, he has no energy in the ring s is practically sleeping in the ring to his trainer’s despair. His fake smiles while he is in the company of Marion/Mabel also cracks me up. But Clark was always able to show a certain humour on screen, even in movies that weren’t comedies. Gone With the Wind would be a great example of that. That’s probably why he is one of my favourite actors!
But Clark Gable was also a serious actor and was able to use his charm to conquer the ladies on-screen. No wonder why Mabel eventually is seduced by Larry! Their mutual hate becomes an exciting secret romance!
On its released, Cain & Mabel, unfortunately, didn’t face a commercial success. However, it remains a worthy and sympathetic film. More, it allows us to considerate Marion Davies’s dancing abilities. The film indeed contains two interesting musical numbers staged by Bobby Connolly. And it’s also a way to observe Clark Gable’s energy as a boxer. Because, believe me, he is not always sleeping in the ring!
Comedy is my favourite genre and I think those made in the 30s were among the best, that’s why this film is a must for me. In opposition to physical comedies of the Silent Era were Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin made us laugh with their crazy mimics and stunts, a film like Cain & Mabel gives us a lot of humour in its dialogue. My favourite line would be when Larry and Mabel are kissing each other at the library and a man working there drops a book next to them. It turns out to be about babies. Clark tells the man: “Hey! Don’t rush things!” Haha!
If you are in for a good time, I highly recommend you to watch the delightful Cain & Mabel. You can rent it on Google Play. It’s not too expensive and worthy! 🙂
Many thanks to Michaela for hosting this fun blogathon! Don’t forget to read the other entries:
Happy heavenly birthday again Mr. Gable!