Clark Gable Collection – Volume One (Fox)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Films: B-
time and especially thanks to Gone With
The Wind, Clark Gable was one of the big screens biggest stars and stayed a
big name until his death. Whether it was
at his early peak or as an A name star, he was a name to be reckoned with. He worked at many of the studios, including
20th Century Fox and their new Clark
Gable Collection – Volume One features an older classic with two later
big-screen productions that shows the value Hollywood held for the star.
underrated William Wellman directed what is still one of the best versions of
Jack London’s The Call Of The Wild
in 1935, with Gable on the rise as Jack Thornton. Joined by a cast that includes Loretta Young,
Reginald Owen, Jack Oakie and Sidney Toler, Gable plays the gambler who with is
faithful dog, land up taking on a cause to help a woman in need in the
often-remade adventure. Since the 1980s,
most of the versions of this and other London books have been laughable and
confused, but despite the limits of the technology of the time, it can be a
very engaging and convincing adaptation.
The Gene Fowler/Leonard Praskins screenplay is a bit Hollywoodized, but Wellman
and Gable come up with gritty synthesis enough to allow the film to hold up al
these years later.
the shorter 81 minutes version, the only one that survived, with extensive
restoration work. Cinematographer
Charles Rosher (1953’s Kiss Me Kate)
did some fine shooting here and though the grain and its age can still show,
this looks fine and fans of the book in particular may be surprised. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is good and maybe
a bit better than the Stereo version.
Both show their age, but I liked the mono better. Extras include stills, the original trailer,
restoration piece and audio commentary by Darwin Porter.
with MGM and feeling he was being neglected by the studio, Fox got Gable and
immediately gave him two big CinemaScope features to show him that were issued
in 1955 and the format off to best effect.
Soldier Of Fortune teams him
up with Susan Hayward as the wife of a man (Gene Barry) caught inside of China,
but Hank Lee (Gable) is crazy and resourceful enough to get him out when all
her other options fail. This is one of
the flatter films Edward Dmytryk did after his battle over with the Hollywood
Blacklists, competent, but not his best work.
Still, it has its moments worth a look.
Michael Rennie also stars. Extras
include stills, the original trailer, restoration piece and audio commentary by
The Tall Men paired Gable and gutsy Raoul
Walsh in a Western about post-Civil War cattle drives and the troubles that
ensue. This time, Jane Russell is his
leading lady and Robert Ryan plays his opponent. The tale of greed competes with the drama and
Miss Russell’s larger-than-life screen presence. Trailers and stills are the only extra in
had been shooting films since the silent era and his use of CinemaScope,
especially in its wider original 2.55 X 1 aspect ratio, is impressive, fun and
sometimes unintentionally funny. Both
are presented here anamorphically enhanced and restored with their original
DeLuxe color in act as much as possible.
The Tall Men has some
memorable shots for a pre-Spaghetti widescreen Western. Not many of these early CinemaScope films
were made, so it is always nice when they arrive.
time, the music for Soldier Of Fortune
is by Hugh Friedhofer, while Victor Young covered The Tall Men and both are solid and serviceable. Both films were 4-track magnetic stereo 35mm
film releases, but Fortune only has
a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo option.
However, the Dolby Digital 4.0 Stereo option on Tall Men shows its age. You
can hear how the remastering had to cut out background noise to the point that
it competes with dialogue and other sound effects, though traveling dialogue
and sound effects are interesting.
all, these might not be Gable’s biggest films, but they are three of his most
interesting. That makes the set a
pleasant surprise for three films that have a more sizable audience than it
would first appear.
- Nicholas Sheffo