Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > Adventure > Western > Spy > Comedy > Clark Gable Collection – Volume One (Fox)

Clark Gable Collection – Volume One (Fox)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Films: B-



In his 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.


The 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.


This is 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.


Finished 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 Danforth Prince.


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 this case.


Leo Tover 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.


This 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 in 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


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com