Red Dust & Mogambo

So last night, old movie fan that I am, I watched two Clark Gable films on Turner Classic Movies. The first was Red Dust (1932) and the second Mogambo (1953).

What both movies share, besides Clark Gable in the lead, playing essentially the same role, is the same plot.

Both movies take place in exotic locations, and both movies involve a man involved with two women, one of whom is married.

In Red Dust, Gable is the owner of a rubber plantation. Jean Harlow is a prostitute whom Gable dallies with but it’s Mary Astor, who plays the part of the wife of an employee, that Gable really lusts for.

Harlow and Astor play the archetypal roles of the Whore and the Lady.

In Mogambo, Gable is a big game hunter and Ava Gardner plays the Whore role (although this movie is tamer than Red Dust in that the fact that Gardner is a prostitute is not as blatantly stated as it is in Red Dust). Grace Kelly is the Lady, wife of a client Gable is taking on safari. (And, rumors say, Kelly and Gable spent a lot of time alone in a tent while this movie was being filmed. At the time she was 24 and he was 52).

I actually preferred Red Dust. For one thing, it was made before the Hollywood censors began to do their thing so it’s a bit racier than the 1952 version and Clark Gable was, obviously, a lot younger. I also liked Jean Harlow and Mary Astor over Gardner and Kelly.

It was also interesting watching a remake of a movie, especially when the lead was played by the same actor, only 21 years later. Gable is definitely a lot more long in the tooth in Mogambo but still Gable.

Red Dust, due to the times it was made, is rife with racist depictions of Asians and that is a lot to swallow. And Mogambo, though not as bad, still treats Africans as nothing more than part of the exotic backdrop. But those were the times these movies were made.

All in all, it was interesting to compare the two movies; one in grainy black and white; the other in stunning Technicolor. Both movies, apparently, were very successful when they were released but there’s nothing like lust in the jungle, adultery and a love triangle to get the blood going I guess.

Speaking of lust, I’m finishing up revisions on my vampire erotica which I had planned to submit this past Monday but it needed more work so will be submitting later in the week.

I’ve also been working on world-building for some future projects. World-building is not my favorite thing to do. I know some people love building their worlds but I have to admit I tend to get bored. I prefer to build my world as I go along, but I realized there are some things about my world I still need to know before I can start drafting. So I’ve been working on what I call Jenna’s Quick & Dirty Guide to World-Building. 🙂


9 Responses to Red Dust & Mogambo

  1. Digital Dame says:

    Ah yes, the old Madonna/Whore dichotomy. It’s interesting that the only women having sex outside marriage in these movies were pros. Clearly the public wasn’t ready for the idea of the female population at large being sexual. I’m sure I saw the later one, Mogambo, not sure about Red Dust. Harlow was definitely a very liberated woman 😉 They used to just hush up all those Hollywood dalliances.

    As far as the world building, unless you’re writing something for hardcore science geeks, just add whatever details you need to give a picture, when it’s necessary. You don’t want to fall into doing a full-on travelogue anyway.

  2. I’ve seen Mogambo. Red Dust is one of those films that I always say I’ll catch, “next time”. Probably because seeing that annoying Madonna/whore thing that DD mentioned (and you don’t want to get me started on that subject!!!) was bad enough seeing once in Mogambo. Figured I didn’t need to see it again.

    Speaking of pre-code Hollywood, I used to love watching those films on TCM back in the States.

  3. Patricia says:

    I’ve always thought Gable was handsome but the only movie I’ve ever seen him in is GWTW.

  4. Patricia,

    My fave Gable flick is, “It Happened One Night”. First movie to win all four top oscars. And it’s a comedy, which is mucho rare for Oscar.

  5. jennareynolds says:

    I thought that Jean Harlow’s performance was way above Ava Gardner’s. But I’ve never been a big Gardner fan.

    TCM has a collection of pre-code Hollywood movies called Forbidden Hollywood. I’d like to get my hands on that collection at some point.

    I have to say Gable was pretty hot in Red Dust. It was made in 1932 so just seven years before GWTW.

    I love “It Happened One Night”. Even my son, who isn’t really into romantic comedies, likes that one.

  6. I’ve liked Harlow in everything I’ve seen her in thus far, so perhaps I should give Red Dust a try.

    A fun flick with Harlow, Mryna Loy, William Powell, and Spencer Tracy is “Libeled Lady”.

    Never was a fan of Gardner, either. Regarding the beauty screen legends of that era, I always thought Rita Hayworth was underestimated. Perhaps not a great actress, but good. And with great stage presence. Gardner always comes off a bit dull to me.

  7. jennareynolds says:

    If you like Harlow, I think you’ll definitely like Red Dust. I thought she was great in it. And the chemistry between her and Gable was sizzling.

    What a cast! I’ll definitely check that movie out!

    Yeah, me too. I thought Rita Hayworth was way more interesting to watch than Gardner. Hayworth’s performance in Gilda was red-hot. Gardner always seemed a bit stiff to me in her performances.

    Can you tell I love old movies? 🙂

  8. Can you tell that I do? 😉

    I just watched a clip of Red Dust on youtube. The cheese scene. That was hilarious. “Which brand will shut you up?”

    Now I definitely want to see it.

  9. jennareynolds says:

    Sure can. 🙂

    Oh, yeah, the cheese scene. It’s hilarious. 🙂 I may even have to pick this one up someday I enjoyed it that much.

    Except for the depiction of Asians. That’s unforgivable I’m afraid 😦 but it was the times. Not an excuse. Just how Hollywood was back then. And still is, in some respects, I’m afraid to say.

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