MOGAMBO (1953) C 115m dir: John Ford

w/Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Donald Sinden, Laurence Naismith, Philip Stainton, Eric Pohlmann, Denis O'Dea, Asa Etula

Tangy remake of RED DUST (which co-starred Jean Harlow and Mary Astor), with Gable repeating his role of the white hunter whose life is complicated by two beautiful women. Gardner gives one of her best performances in a colorful role. The heat generated by Gable and Kelly in the film was augmented, no doubt, by their very steamy real-life romance. Beautifully filmed.

From The Movie Guide: "MOGAMBO lacks the engaging raunchiness of the superior RED DUST and the wild banter between Gable and his ideal co-star Jean Harlow. Here the verbal sparring goes on between Gardner and Kelly, while Gable wisely replaces his young buck of yore with a more weatherbeaten bwana. Ford provides action all the way, trekking his cameras through Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda. Instead of using a traditional score for the film, Ford insisted that the sounds of Africa would be more effective on the soundtrack. The absence of lush music was a rarity for an MGM production; executives thought such devices too experimental for their 'family' audience, but they deferred to the great Ford. There are scenes, reminiscent of Ford's westerns, in which he visually exploits the lavish African landscape. In one scene, Gable stoically marches toward the camera through a gauntlet of spear-holding tribesmen while the horizon spreads beyond him, a scene not unlike the finale of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, in which Henry Fonda (as Wyatt Earp) rides away from the camera, down a road stretching into infinity.

"More cultured than RED DUST, MOGAMBO (meaning 'to speak') is also slightly less vibrant, but it deserves praise for not really trying to duplicate the earlier film (which Ford never saw). Kelly, teetering on the brink of major stardom, is quite effective as the repressed wife, and Gardner gives one of the most appealing, relaxed performances of her career. Considering that then-hubby Frank Sinatra was at a career low (this was just before FROM HERE TO ETERNITY) and that she had a miscarriage during production makes her achievement all the more impressive.

"Gable held up production, too, when he flew back to the US because he only trusted his own dentist. MGM had wanted to get rid of their high-priced star of twenty years for some time, and Gable left the studio, $400K pension in hand, after completing his next film, BETRAYED. MOGAMBO, however, proved such a bonanza (returning almost $5 million on its initial release) that MGM soon regretted its decision. The story provided the blueprint for one of Ann Sothern's 'Maisie' series, CONGO MAISIE (1940), and Gable did RED DUST on the radio in 1940 with Sothern as well."

Oscar nominations for Best Actress (Gardner) and Supporting Actress (Kelly).