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Lesser-Known Clark Gable Roles: 5 Films You Probably Haven't Seen Yet

By    |   Monday, 06 Apr 2015 09:10 PM

From “Gone with the Wind” and “Mutiny on the Bounty” to “It Happened One Night,” Clark Gable starred in some of the most acclaimed movies ever produced by Hollywood. But the legendary leading man of the 1930s to early 1960s also has roles in outstanding films that didn’t garner as much respect or box office appeal yet are worth a viewing by moviegoers today.

Here are five lesser-known Gable films from the “King of Hollywood” that movie critics and fans alike still enjoy — more than 50 years after Gable’s sudden passing from a heart attack in 1960.

1. "Red Dust" (1932)

This torrid romance, made before the Motion Picture Production code was enforced in 1934, featured one of Gable’s first leading man roles, according to Pre-Code.com.

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Gable plays the owner of a rubber plantation in French Indochina who simultaneously woos a prostitute (Jean Harlow) and the wife of one of his workers (Mary Astor). Gable’s macho, aggressive performance opened a wider range of roles for him through the rest of the decade.

2. "Cain and Mabel" (1936)

Gable was loaned to Warner Brothers from MGM for this critical and commercial flop with Marion Davies.

Gable plays a lowly boxer whose manager concocts a fake romance with a Broadway musical star (Davies) to boost Gable’s and Davies’ careers. After initially loathing each other, the two fall in love and elect to give up their pursuits of stardom, forcing their managers to try to break them up.

Scott McGee of Turner Classic Movies wrote that "Cain and Mabel" "is admittedly no masterpiece, the film still has a great deal of charm."

3. "Boom Town" (1940)

Gable starred with Spencer Tracy as long-time friends whose newfound status as business partners and oil tycoons is tested when Gable’s character falls in love with Tracy’s girlfriend (Claudette Colbert) and eventually marries her. The epic adventure-drama was Gable and Tracy’s third and most popular project together after “San Francisco” (1936) and “Test Pilot” (1938), according to TCM.

The film also reunited Gable with Colbert, his co-star in the smash hit “It Happened One Night.” The duo’s on-screen chemistry was on target again, albeit in a much more serious storyline.

4. "Strange Cargo" (1940)

Gable reunited with Joan Crawford, with whom he made eight motion pictures. “Strange Cargo” was one of their best-received films. Gable enjoyed the opportunity to flex his muscle again as an escaped convict from a French penal colony in South America, while Crawford played a saloon entertainer who falls in love with him.

5. "But Not for Me" (1959)

One of Gable’s last films was this romantic comedy where, as he did in “Teacher’s Pet” with Doris Day (1958), the 57-year-old star proved he still had the comedic chops to make audiences laugh.

Gable played a roguish Broadway producer whose secretary’s (Carroll Baker) attraction to him inspired a solution to his struggling theatrical production — and prompted a series of hilarious misunderstandings in the process.

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From “Gone with the Wind” to “It Happened One Night,” Clark Gable starred in some of the most acclaimed movies ever produced by Hollywood. But the legendary leading man also had roles in films that didn’t garner as much acclaim or box office dollars yet are still worth viewing by moviegoers today.
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2015-10-06
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