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At first, I could not believe James Brolin was playing Clark Gable, but he is dead on with his portrayal!!! He's a great reason to see this film. I don't know why this film is rated so low. It was sweet, entertaining and the ending was heartbreaking. It was also great to see the implications of not being a "moral" and "upstanding" actor in the film industry during its early years. It shows how much times have changed. It was also fascinating to see if Clark Gable really had a softer side in him, since he was probably the greatest leading man in the history of Hollywood and a symbol of American manhood during his time. In my mind, this film is wonderful.
GABLE AND LOMBARD is the kind of film that Hollywood history buffs hate, but
fans of love stories just eat up. In other words, the truth is often
distorted or ignored, but the emotional core is dead-on.
I won't dwell on the many mistakes, but two are glaring, and must be pointed out. While Carole Lombard was a truly gifted actress (particularly in comedies), she was never Hollywood's #1 star (Lombard never achieved the status of Shearer, Garbo, Davis, or Crawford); L.B. Mayer's 'ordering' rising star Gable to 'make nice' with her, so she'd agree to do a picture at Metro with him is pure hokum. Actors had virtually no say in 'loan outs' in the 1930s; studios made all the decisions, based on maximizing their profits, and controlling their stars. A case in point was Gable's participation in Columbia's IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. Had he been given the opportunity, he'd have refused to go (he considered it a 'step backward', and it was, in fact, done as punishment against him, on MGM's part), and he would have never have won his only Academy Award!
The other major gaffe is showing Gable as an AAF officer at the time of Lombard's death. He didn't enlist until after she'd died, partially because of the guilt he felt over his lack of involvement in the war effort, a cause Lombard had died supporting. While Brolin, as Gable, looks terrific in uniform, it just wasn't the truth.
The effectiveness of a story like this relies heavily on the actors portraying the stars, and GABLE AND LOMBARD offers an interesting combination. Despite David Janssen's heavy lobbying for the role of Clark Gable (he always felt he was, actually, Gable's son, and he did, in fact, share many of the actor's physical and vocal qualities), the producers felt that, at 46, he was too old for the role, and went, instead, with 36-year-old James Brolin. Brolin, best-known for his stint in the hit TV series, 'Marcus Welby, M.D.' (and later, in another series, 'Hotel'), was an actor who had all the right 'tools', but never quite achieved film stardom. Nearly cast as Roger Moore's replacement as James Bond (despite a terrific screen test, producer Cubby Broccoli decided to stick with United Kingdom actors), Brolin, with a mustache, looked eerily like Gable during the actor's peak years, and could mimic the actor's vocal inflections and physical mannerisms very effectively. The end result of his mimicry, however, was a Gable who lacked depth, and his performance frequently seemed more a caricature than a portrayal.
Jill Clayburgh, as Carole Lombard, faced a different problem. The 32-year-old actress (who would achieve stardom the following year, in SILVER STREAK), had a very well-written role, which was, in fact, quite close to the actress' actual personality (big-hearted yet at times acerbic, Lombard was known for her salty humor and frequent use of four-letter words, in stark contrast with her classic beauty). Clayburgh, however, with her broad features, looked nothing like Carole Lombard. (If you're unfamiliar with Lombard's 'look', her closest contemporary counterpart is Michelle Pfeiffer.) Clayburgh plays the role very well, but, knowing this, I could never 'suspend disbelief' enough to accept her as Lombard.
However, as I said at the beginning, if you are hooked by true love stories (and aren't familiar with the 'real' Carole Lombard), GABLE AND LOMBARD has all the elements you can ask for; antagonism turning to attraction and then 'forbidden' passion, nearly insurmountable obstacles blocking happiness, eventual triumph, then a heartbreaking tragedy that would ultimately immortalize the lovers. Gable 'carried a torch' for his lost love until his death, in 1960, and GABLE AND LOMBARD gives ample evidence of her impact on his life.
The film is a flawed, but moving testament to their love.
In the 70s after MGM compiled their wonderful THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT docos highlighting their musical treasure trove, other equally stocked companies decided not to do the same but actually make feature films about the same Hollywood history. So, instead of getting That's Fox or That's Paramount or Universal or Columbia (like the pubic actually wanted...and still do...) we were served new movies about old Hollywood. Enter GABLE AND LOMBARD (and WC Fields and Me, and Day Of The Locust...and Won Ton Ton The Dog That Saved Hollywood...and Hearts Of the West...and The Last Tycoon etc). Not as ominous as the proposed remake of Casablanca starring Tom Selleck and Jane Seymour, and nowhere near as 'bad' or 'wrong' as critics of the time cruelly labeled it, GABLE AND LOMBARD is a lush valentine to a fan mag style and memory of a period in time...rather like the production design of The Talented Mr Ripley is actually reflective of what Hollywood thought the jet set Mediterranean 50s were like as opposed to its fishing boat reality. As with At long Last Love, GABLE AND LOMBARD was slammed by crits and left to drown when without the bile and guffaw, there is a very entertaining biography with quite good casting and sensational visuals. Unfortunately for the producers, it was made when most everyone from the 30s were still alive and could spew on this film. Had it been made today, it would play 3000 multiplexes to a docile audience who struggle to know anything about 'the past' and be a $50million hit in week one by default of the TV ads and shopping center cinema location. I am sad not to see Jill Clayburg in films much past the 70s, like the superb Lee Grant she too can make an ordinary film watchable. In this case we have a great actress in a lavish (slavish) biography with sturdy James Brolin doing his damnedest not to be a dumb-Clark. As with WC Fields And Me this film deserves a better reception and a lush DVD transfer to be re discovered and appreciated. It's quite good.
To be frank, this film was nothing but a ghost of one of the greatest
love stories in Hollywood. When looking at it from a purely fictional
standpoint, Gable and Lombard could be a mildly entertaining film,
which is why I gave it a three to save it from utter ruination. But
when looking from a historical standpoint and becoming familiar with
the real Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, one realizes how ridiculous
this film really is. The poorly written script should have been based
upon the novel by Warren G. Harris rather than fantasy while the
casting offices should have looked for actors better suited for the
parts. While James Brolin did what he could with a poorly written part,
he certainly was no Gable and ended up performing a dull imitation of
one of the greatest legends Hollywood has ever known. But my main
concern was with the terrible miscasting of Jill Clayburgh as the
iconoclastic Lombard. She was entirely wrong for the part in both
physicality and personality and ended up coming off as crude and
impudent. The real Lombard was hardly such and while she used the
language that Clayburgh shouted over and over again in the film, in
reality it did not come off in the cheap manner that Clayburgh
performed it in. Those closest to Lombard said she used class with her
swearing and certainly Clayburgh was entirely incapable of portraying
the class associated with Lombard's personality. While Clayburgh is not
a terrible actress, she could not become the essence of Lombard and
again it eventuated in a cheap mimicry of one of Hollywood's most
signature actresses. Addressing that other problem associated with
Clayburgh's casting, her nonexistent physical resemblance to the real
Lombard, comes off as a travesty. While I would normally overlook poor
physical resemblances to the real life people an actor is portraying,
it was nearly impossible to do whilst watching a tall, shrill woman
portraying a woman who, in reality, was petite and classy. I will grant
that Clayburgh, perhaps, did all that she could to capture Lombard but
certainly it did not seem so when watching this pathetic film.
Gable and Lombard eventuated in a shrewd, mediocre film that is not worth the time that it takes in dragging the viewer through the unbearable misrepresentations of various figures of Hollywood's classic period. If you are brilliant enough of a magician to suspend the image of the real Clark Gable and Carole Lombard long enough to see through the historical inaccuracies and rather mediocre acting, Gable and Lombard can be enjoyable. Certainly, I wouldn't be one to suggest it.
Highly fictional movie about the love affair between Clark Gable (James
Brolin) and Carole Lombard (Jill Clayburgh). It chronicles how they
first meet and hate each other but eventually fall in love. The problem
is Gable's first wife won't give him a divorce and their studios are
threatening to drop them.
There are so many factual errors here it's pointless to try and discuss them all. The biggest one for me was the portrayal of Louis B. Mayer (badly played by Allen Garfield) as a kindly man. He was loud and obnoxious and treated the actors like dirt. Here he comes across as a nice gentle father figure which is wildly inaccurate. Still if you just accept this as a fictional tale it's not too bad. It's pretty obvious they spent a lot of money on this--there's some truly beautiful sets and clothes. Also the script isn't too bad. It mostly consists of Brolin and Clayburgh screaming and arguing with each other or hopping into bed...but it still works.
Brolin is VERY convincing as Gable. He looks like him and sounds like him. Also, from what I've heard, he pretty much gave an accurate portrayal of Gable as he really was. Clayburgh looks nothing like Lombard but her acting is excellent and she does show Lombard as she actually was--strong, funny and independent. Also Red Buttons is excellent as a studio publicist. Beautiful music score too.
There are a few problems. The movie is way too long--it's 131 minutes and should have been shorter. Also there's a truly tacky sequence involving a "c**k soc" that should have been eliminated. But, as a fictional tale, this is pretty good. R rated for swearing and very frank sexual talk.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Gable and Lombard" made me angry as I watched it. You see I made a
mistake of reading a book based on their life together and what amazed
me was how inaccurate the movie is. Allow me to point out just a few of
the MANY facts that are wrong with the movie.
1) The film opens with Gable at the plane crash site which has taken the life of Miss Lombard. He wears an Army uniform when in real life he didn't join until later.
2) At the crash site he is comforted by Lombard's press agent when in reality the press agent was killed in the crash as well.
3) The movie makes it appear that they kept their love life secret when in real life they often appeared together in public and made no secret of it.
4) In real life Gable and Lombard had worked together years before their affair started. The movie has them meeting and falling in love almost immediately.
5) The film over emphasizes Lombard's popularity.
Ah but who cares right? Most people don't know the real story and probably don't care. What you want to know is if the movie is any good. I imagine many people will probably enjoy this film but it's nothing more then a silly Hollywood romance that just happened to involve one of the biggest movie stars of the day. Frankly I was so distracted by the common factual errors it would have been impossible for me to enjoy. Let's face it when you watch a story involving real people you imagine that most if not all of what you are seeing either really happened or is a close representation thereof. To watch this movie is to see a screenwriter's fictional invention with real people. In other words I found it to be a scam.
As for the performances James Brolin is essentially imitating Gable from the "Gone With the Wind" era. He would have been more effective had he just made the character his own. He somewhat resembles Gable so we don't need the voice imitation. Jill Clayburgh comes off slightly better simply because she is given less to do.
"Gable and Lombard" may be a nice fictional movie but they should have changed the names and made the characters unknown. The ghosts of the real actors and their true stories linger from frame one.
Struggling in the mid-seventies just before the blockbuster era settled
in, Hollywood looked back to its history for material, and this was one
of the results. Based on a pretty good book by Warren G. Harris, the
problem with "Gable & Lombard" isn't so much the acting (Brolin does
what he can in a no-win situation, and Clayburgh's halfway decent,
though it's nearly impossible to suspend disbelief and believe she's
Lombard), but the script. It's awful, and worse, historically
inaccurate in so many ways (unlike the book).
First of all, Clark and Carole initially met filming "No Man Of Her Own" when Gable was loaned to Paramount in late 1932, while Lombard was married to William Powell; they got along well on the set, but no sparks flew and from all accounts they didn't keep in touch.
Second, Lombard was never a bigger star than Gable (although at the peak of her career, she was the highest-salaried star in the industry thanks to her shrewd business sense). Both elevated their rank in 1934, ironically through films at Columbia -- "It Happened One Night" for Clark, "Twentieth Century" for Carole. Her only film at MGM also came that year, but it wasn't with Gable; it was a gangster comedy called "The Gay Bride," sort of a thirties "Married To The Mob" (in fact, that phrase is actually used in the film). Carole always called it the worst film of her career (although, personally, I deem it far superior to her lone foray at Warners, "Fools For Scandal" in 1938).
Third, and perhaps most inexcusable to me, was having Gable in uniform at the time of Carole's death in a 1942 plane crash returning from a war bond rally in her native Indiana. Lombard was far more interested in world affairs than Gable, and many believe Clark enlisted out of guilt for what had happened to his wife -- something that would have been far more poignant than what was shown on screen. (There's also been conjecture that Gable and Lana Turner, who were making "Somewhere I'll Find You," were having an affair at the time of Carole's death, and that Lombard decided to fly home because of her suspicions. Since Turner was alive in 1976, one can understand why the script didn't touch this issue.) All in all, a mediocre film about two personalities who deserve far better treatment, especially since both were, by all accounts, generally good people and acknowledged as such by those who worked with them. Lombard in particular deserves a decent biopic, as her timeless, iconoclastic qualities still resonate today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just watched this schlockfest on Encore. In the 1970s I read the
reviews panning it, and so I never saw it until tonight.
Screenwriter Barry Sandler slapped together the script for "Gable and Lombard." If you don't recognize Sandler's name, he is also the writer of one of the most famously awful movies of all time, "Making Love." Although presenting a gay-themed love story was a bold move during the early Reagan years, it was severely criticized, not so much for its subject matter but for its cringe-inducing dialogue. The same holds true for "Gable and Lombard."
Marvelous, vividly colorful cinematography is wasted on a poorly written and largely imaginary "biopic" of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. In the background, the incessant repetition of Michel Legrand's trite, syrupy theme grows tiresome very fast. As for the characters' screwball action, stretched out for 132 specious minutes, no better adjective than "trashy" applies.
But Sandler saves the worst for last. Gable, resplendent in his Air Force uniform (he didn't actually enlist until AFTER Lombard's death) sits under a tent near the site where Lombard's plane has crashed, killing everybody on board. Gable says that he wants to go up to find her, but his fictional good buddy Ivan Cooper, who has been holding his hand for practically the entire film, convinces him to leave, saying, "She wouldn't want you to remember her that way." Obediently, Gable immediately leaves in a green sedan. The movie should have ended right there. However, in a REALLY classy move, Sandler decides to depict the grief-stricken Gable telling the driver a filthy anecdote, after which the camera pans out and the soppy Legrand theme rises for the last time over the credits.
This moment left me stunned. Even if it were true--which by all accounts it wasn't--why leave us with an obscene final impression of Clark Gable? It's not merely preposterous, but beyond disgusting. It would have been more poignant to go with the truth, which is that Gable was prevented from hiking up with the search team to look for his wife, and remained in the area for days while the team dug through the wreckage. He is quoted as saying, "They never let me go to the crash site," and spent the rest of his life sending searchers back to look for Carole's wedding ring, which was never found.
There is so much more that Sandler could have done with this story and didn't. Choosing scatology over dignity, he put a toilet-paper ribbon on his Technicolor package of lies about people who meant little more to him than cartoon characters, and flung it at the audience, flipping the bird in farewell.
Have you ever heard a lie so supremely unbelievable (based upon what
you know), you feel insulted and wish the teller were a better liar?
That's how I felt suffering through the first 30 minutes of "Gable and
Lombard". Historical inaccuracy upon historical inaccuracy tarnishes
this telling of the love between two of Hollywood's brightest stars.
There' nothing histrionically bad here (despite Clayburgh's terrible
miscasting), production values are exceptional; yet movies such as
"Gable and Lombard" can be career killers, and the producers deserved
to lose every penny they invested. While no one's career was completely
killed, James Brolin (who actually does a pretty good job) was never
offered another major film role. Sidney J. Furie, who impressed so much
with "The Ipcress File," "The Appaloosa" and "Lady Sings the Blues"
found himself directing "Superman 4: The Quest for Peace" and the "Iron
Eagle" series. Ironically, Jill Clayburgh, given her near inept
performance as Carole Lombard, fared the best, snatching up hit roles
in "Silver Streak," and Oscar nominations for "An Unmarried Woman" and
"Starting Over." Clayburgh's problems playing Lombard are not entirely
her fault; Clayburgh is simply not classy enough or pretty enough to
play Lombard. Much of Lombard's appeal was her ability to handle vulgar
material in a classy way. Coarse language can seem almost charming,
depending upon how it's delivered. Lombard could pull it off for the
same reasons Katherine Hepburn could do it, because she had the
Since I didn't finish the movie, I won't rate it. "Gable and Lombard" is okay as fiction, but I would have greatly preferred it had the writer stayed as closely as dramatically possible to the true story.
Gable and Lombard ended up being a real treat for me to watch. I was skeptical about James Brolin playing Clark Gable but it wasn't long into the movie I got lost in Clark Gable and not in James Brolin. Jill Clayburg, I knew she could pull off being the sexy yet foul mouthed Carol Lombard. This movie is quite authentic with little embellishments here and there as I have read just about everything on this love struck couple. You will die laughing when you see what Carole Lombard had knitted for Clark Gable and her cute little comment when she sees it might be too big for him to fit into. I would though recommend not watching it on tv as it was edited so badly it took away from the story lines. If you can find it on video or happen to catch it in your cable guide, please try to catch it and I think if you really give it your undivided attention you will find the greatest love story of this century!
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