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This film was Clark Gable's first after he returned to Hollywood following his service in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He had joined in August 1942, following the death of his wife Carole Lombard. MGM hyped this film as Gable's big comeback, using the line, "Gable's Back and Garson's Got Him!" in the advertising. Audiences at first lined up to see the King back in action, but the novelty wore off and the film flopped. The failure of the film officially ended Gable's box office viability and his reign as the "King of Hollywood". See more »
This movie is better with each passing year. It is a semi-noir, pre-"reality" - psychological drama of intense beauty.
Clark Gable stars as a staunchly confirmed sea dog, crew leader (called a bos'n) and womanizer who is totally unprepared to meet Greer Garson's character, who forever changes his vision of what is possible in finding love with a woman. Academy Award winner, and beloved character actor Thomas Mitchell ("Uncle Billy" in "It's A Wonderful Life (1946)") plays his too-sensitive-for-this-world side-kick, who becomes Gable's conscience, but at a price.
The script of this drama is lyrically sublime, subtle and quite deep. The fire between the stars is evident and haunting. True 'soul-mate' love is the overt theme of this movie. Existence, conscience, and facing the pain and limits of life, so that you may truly pass into adulthood, are more themes explored here. I view this film regularly once a year and am always inspired by its deep message and raw powerful performances. This isn't your stock Gable. This is a bittersweet post-war love poem.(Really! E. B. Browning is quoted to great effect!)
Gable's "Harry Patterson" has seen tragedy and loss (as had Gable himself, recently losing the love of his life, wife Carole Lombard). He is made restless in search of "it" which he believes only exists in the danger and perils of sea voyaging. He is sickened by the way shipwrecked people, alive and on edge, once rescued, quickly become bored and lose that passionate awareness of their own lives. He is searching for that life where he stays excited and in the passionate present (probably true of many returning war soldiers in 1945).
In Garson's "Emily Sears" he sees "it" for the first time in a woman's eyes. He is intrigued by her equivalent strength and wit, and simultaneously threatened by the risk of pain in losing her. Their love develops as a series of intense battles. She sees a "caged animal" and for the first time a man she might really respect, even though she feels he needs to be reached through all of his rebellion...and rescued.
His actions are escapist (and make great movie scenes)...but sailing away to forget his new "queen," he finds things have changed and we know, as do the other characters, that it is the end of his former life ...even if he doesn't. "Emily" bravely allows "Harry" to figure it out for himself. She doesn't demand any change in him, instead she sends him off to find "it" and risks being without the man that she loves for the rest of her life. Her majesty the queen of MGM, Greer Garson, has never been lovelier.
Joan Blondel is a juicy, ripe 'tomato'(the returning soldiers must have hooted and hollered!). Lina Romay makes an incredible "girl in distant port" and even sings a bit!
Thomas Mitchell is the stand out support. He plays Mudge, the soul and conscience of the free spirited Gable and perhaps of the whole film. He brilliantly helps unite a lost sailor & seeker with what his heart truly seeks.
Watch this film and let it be poetry... just let it play as you marvel at the writing and the actors' eyes. I predict that this movie is about to be rediscovered in a big way. ( By you?)
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