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Monday, January 3, 2011

TO PLEASE A LADY (1950)

Clark Gable & Barbara Stanwyck star in this routine programmer about a ruthless race car driver and the equally tough-minded media mogul who tears him apart in her column before falling for the guy. (He slaps her hard, then kisses her hard. What girl could refuse?) How these two heavyweight stars wound up in such minor fare is a bit of a mystery (who was running M-G-M?), yet the film is more fun than most of the over-scaled prestige pics Gable slogged thru after the war. Having the age-appropriate Stanwyck as the love interest helps, too. Vet helmer Clarence Brown runs the romance briskly, slowing down to let Gable flirt with Babs on a moonlit racing track, and not backing off on deflating angles of Hollywood’s aging King or making too much of an ending right out of HANS BRINKER. And if the film feels distinctly underpopulated, lenser Harold Rosson (or someone) put real effort into the back-screen projection shots. Not only are the mockups unusually well edited into the legit racing footage, but the lighting & film grain are better integrated than was standard @ M-G-M. And what footage it is! The old racing cars look appallingly dangerous compared to today’s hunks of sophisticated gadgetry. And the midget race cars? Don’t even ask. Yikes!

CONTEST: You can spot the Alpha & Omega of the Hollywood political map sharing a title card in the credits of this film. Spot the players and explain their relative positions (Right to Left) to earn our very unpolitical prize, a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of the NetFlix DVD of your choice.

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