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Russ Ward, after 30 years of producing Broadway plays, is ready to quit. His secretary, Ellie Brown, on being given notice, tells him she loves him. Russ proceeds to turn this into a hit play starring Ellie and romance her in a May-December affair. Written by
Bob Lipton <email@example.com>
An Aging Gable 'Fesses Up With Aid From A Charming Palmer
At the tail end of his film career Clark Gable made a series of movies where his co-stars were not in his age group. Up to 1956 his co-stars might have been younger than him (Lana Turner comes to mind) but more frequently they were still in their late 30s to early 50s like Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck, or Eleanor Parker. Then, at the tail end of the 1950s Gable made four movies where his co-stars were not within fifteen years of his age. These were TEACHER'S PET (with Doris Day), BUT NOT FOR ME (with Carol Baker), IT STARTED IN NAPLES (with Sophia Loren), and THE MISFITS (with Marilyn Monroe). In at least three of these films the co-star was as big a star as Gable. The exception is Baker, a promising actress in the period but one that never hit the same height of stardom as the others (her best recalled film role was HARLOW - ironically she played a great movie star who had fequently appeared opposite the young Gable). But if Baker lacked the magnetism of Day, Loren, or Monroe, her support to Gable is shared by an actress in his own age group again - Lily Palmer. And Palmer does her job very nicely.
In BUT NOT FOR ME Gable's character - a Broadway Producer - revives his career and that of a once prize-winning playwrite (Lee J. Cobb) when he discovers his secretary (Baker) is in love with him, and is trying to keep his latest production (Cobb's recent play) from being discarded as a failure. Baker revitalizes Gable, and makes him think of remarrying. He was once married to his leading stage lady (Palmer) who divorced him because of differences over lifestyle and life choices. Palmer, who oozes grace and charm, wanted a husband who was interested in home life with her. Gable was too into his production and impressario career, as well as enjoying living life to the most publicly fullest. However, as she watches Gable, Baker, and Cobb rework the play and make it work, Palmer slowly sees Gable bending over to make himself seem younger than he is. In fact a running joke in the film is Gable's confusion of his birth date and age, seemingly making it about ten or five years earlier than it is.
But Palmer keeps bringing Gable and Baker back to earth about their age differences. When Gable takes Baker into Central Park for a romantic moment alone on a bench, Palmer shows up, and gleefully remembers how he took her there too...years before. Gable does not appreciate this ("Are you sure it's safe to be alone here at this late hour?", he asks Palmer. "You might get stabbed!"). Eventually Gable sees the light...he and Palmer end up together again at the end, her helping him with his various pills in the closing moments of the film.
The operative word in the film is charm. Not only Palmer in needling Gable back to his senses, but also (surprisingly) Cobb, as he reforms from his hard drinking failure to his sober success. Even Thomas Gomez is funny in this film, playing a character based on Greek movie theatre tycoon Spyros Skouras. Cobb dislikes money men (Gomez is a potential play backer), and tells Gomez so, saying "Who financed Shaw?" "Who financed Shakespeare?" "Who financed Sophocles?" An angry and fed-up Gomez shouts, "I did!" Taken aback, Cobb asks, "You?". "Sure", says Gomez, "And the production flopped. Why do you suppose I left Greece to come here?"
A friendly little film to watch, and possibly a wise one.
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