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Smooth cowboy Dan Kehoe arrives at a ranch run by an old widow and her four daughters-in-law. He's been tipped off that the proceeds of a gold robbery are hidden on the ranch, but only one of the women knows where. He plays them off against each other in his quest to discover the location. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
Clark Gable formed a production company with his The Tall Men (1955) co-star Jane Russell and her husband Bob Waterfield in order to produce this film. However, the stress of producing took such a toll on the 55-year-old Gable's already guarded health that he never produced another movie. See more »
The King and Four Queens is directed by Raoul Walsh and written by Margaret Fits and Richard Alan Simmons. It stars Clark Gable, Jo Van Fleet, Eleanor Parker, Jean Willes, Barbara Nichols and Sara Shane. A CinemaScope/DeLuxe Color production, music is by Alex North and cinematography by Lucien Ballard.
Utterly delightful froth! Plot essentially finds Gable as a crafty drifter who learns about a group of women holed up in a ghost town who are sitting on a hoard of stolen gold. The four beauties, and their tough as old boots mother-in-law, are the wives and mother of outlaw brothers who stole the gold but who are now all presumed dead. Gable romances the four dames with the intention of locating the gold and clearing off first chance he gets, but that is far easier sounding than it is in principal!
It's all a set-up for a tale of sexual frustration and subversion of male dominance. That the Production Code renders much of the narrative to suggestion, choice scripting and fill in the gaps ourselves moments, is unfortunately a given, but it's all played with a glint in its eye and there's still a cheekiness, a sexiness, about the picture that strikes the right chords. Sometimes it's an uneasy blend of drama and comedy, but when it hits its straps, such as a wonderful dance sequence, it has the quality to land the smile firmly on your face. And this even if the final is somewhat an anti-climax.
Production wise it's a beauty. The cast are having a great old time of it, with the four younger ladies revelling in flirting about with the older and distinguished Gable. But it's Van Fleet who owns the movie, her tough old buzzard act is laced with maternal sadness and stoic strength and it underpins the whole story. Ballard's colour photography is gorgeous, with the location filming out of Calabasas, Snow Canyon and St. George proving to be magnificent backdrops, while North's musical accompaniments are pleasingly non obtrusive.
Neither uproariously funny or dramatically potent it's a film caught somewhere in the middle of both. Yet on this occasion it really doesn't matter, it's like a good old glass of bourbon, enjoyably warm while ingested but the buzz soon wears off at closing time. 7/10
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