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. See more »
"Adventure" is an oddly generic title for such a singularly unique motion picture. Its superficial values are appealing enough--the Gable bluster is rarely put to such good use, and Garson is possibly the only actress with enough mettle to match him--but these attributes are hardly unusual and neither, indeed, is the storyline. What makes the effort favorably surprising is the story's aspiration to allegory through the use of poetics, which may occasionally seem overt but which never fail to ring true. It's an ambitious undertaking, and it works.
In its time, the movie was dismissed for being both formulaic and even crude, which in itself betrays either an ignorance of its higher aspirations or, more likely, a reluctance to take them seriously. America in 1945 prided itself on street smarts and industrial might; on its not being taken for a sucker. It had saved Europe from the axis forces and was about to embark on a socioeconomic boom such as the world had never seen: It wasn't interested in philosophical musings about the nature of the soul. The idea that these musings could be given dimension in a simple and often predictable story about a rakish sailor and a repressed librarian drove reviewers to pronounce the script "foolish" and the poetic commentary "gibberish."
But it is these very elements, this oddly ardent coloring, that have somehow deepened and mellowed with time, and which now provide the film with the kind of rich, subtle flavor found in only the most treasured vintages. More unique still is that the movie is less interested in the sentimentality of its story than in the metaphysical questions it poses. Its chief accomplishment is in avoiding any academic exploration of such questions (a choice which parallels the arc of the story itself), and it does so by illustrating with large, colorful brushes. Only the intelligence of the director and the skill of his actors keep the proceedings from veering off into caricature, a tipping point that when straddled with such finesse is delightful viewing indeed.
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