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Thursday, September 1, 2016

NEVER LET ME GO (1953)

A real dog. Clark Gable, uninvolved & a bit saggy, is a Moscow-based reporter who falls for (and marries) Bolshoi ballerina Gene Tierney but can’t get her out of the country, shut down by spurious Cold War visa restrictions. He’ll have to sneak back in by boat and smuggle her to freedom with help from fellow bereft groom Richard Haydn and sea-faring mate Bernard Miles. Remarkably few complications arise, and those that do are neither believable nor exciting. (A car chase toward the end briefly allows THIRD MAN lenser Robert Krasker to dust off his glittering nighttime technique.) No doubt, the true purpose was letting M-G-M tap into some frozen British assets by filming in the U.K., but it sure makes a sorry finale to the four decade career of producer/director Clarence Brown, here as producer only. The uneven megger, Delmer Daves, tasked with running the soggy show, seems fully aware he’s working on a stinker. Everyone else, too.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Gable had run this plot before, co-starring with Hedy Lamaar in COMRADE X/’40, a big flop in its day (not seen here). Instead, take a hint from the small role Theodore Bikel has as a young naval officer who loses a vodka-drinking contest, and catch his promotion to Soviet submarine Captain grounded off the Maine coast in the delicious Cold War comedy THE RUSSIAN ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING/’66 with Alan Arkin in a fab film debut.

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