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Conditions are spartan on Dennis Carson's Indochina rubber plantation during a dusty dry monsoon. The latest boat upriver brings Carson an unwelcome guest: Vantine, a floozy from Saigon, hoping to evade the police by a stay upcountry. But Carson, initially uninterested, soon succumbs to Vantine's ostentatious charms...until the arrival of surveyor Gary Willis, ill with malaria, and his refined but sensuous wife Barbara. Now the rains begin, and passion flows like water... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When Clark Gable and Gene Raymond are in the tree while hunting, after the line: 'this would be a bad country to raise children in, wouldn't it?', the cloud in the background changes dramatically. See more »
If you can't stand old films that perpetuate and even celebrate racist notions, skip 1932's "Red Dust." Putting that historical reality in perspective, "Red Dust" is a very good, well-acted film set in a studio's fantasy of the Indo-China jungle and its rubber plantations.
Where would film have gone in depicting real romantic relationships with steamy exchanges and barely hidden amorous capers if, two years after "Red Dust," the puritanical code that stifled sexuality hadn't been imposed? Who knows but here Clark Gable as Denny, a plantation manager, Jean Harlow as Lily, a woman who, as they used to say, was no better than she ought to be and lovely Mary Astor as Babs Willis act out an adult story.
Babs is married to "gosh, oh, golly" idealist and almost straight man Gary Willis, played with affecting naivete by Gene Raymond. Gary works for Denny who is working Babs. Sent away into the deep black-and-white monsoon greenery of the jungle by Denny, Gene is thankful for what he thinks is a fine job opportunity. Also happy are Babs and Denny whose obvious affair is portrayed without any of the sweaty gymnastics that are the staple of today's films.
Enter Lily who really loves Denny and knows she's the only true tramp for him. Gene is planning (in 1932!) for a house in Westchester County, NY (then a true rural backwater, not a suburban one) complete with kids. Denny doesn't know what he wants and Babs loves him but she hasn't forgotten she's hitched.
Director Victor Fleming lets this story play out within, barely, the bounds of then acceptable storytelling.
"Red Dust" shows up on movie channels and is available for sale. It's an important piece of Hollywood's pre-war history and is still a viewer-grabbing flick.
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