Monday, May 11, 2009

Red Dust vs. Mogambo, game on...

I’ve been meaning to write a new blog for so long. Tonight was my last night of grad school so I will finally have time again. Anyway, I love comparing old movies with their remakes (The Shop Around the Corner & You’ve Got Mail, My Fair Lady & She’s All That, etc.) or even better, comparing two old movies that are remakes of one another (Love is News & That Wonderful Urge, Red Dust & Mogambo). It is fun for me to analyze the changes made in remakes and speculate why two movies are done so differently. Was it in response to a changing audience or demographic or a new director? Luckily, I finally got the chance to watch Red Dust after renting it on VHS from the library. So now I can compare the two movies...

After watching both Red Dust and Mogambo it is clear I prefer Red Dust, however, Mogambo was still fun to watch. In Red Dust (1932), Clark Gable plays the owner of a rubber plantation in Indochina. Jean Harlow and Mary Aster are the other parts of the love triangle. Mogambo (1953), is set in Africa. This time Clark Gable plays a hunter, capturing wild animals for zoos in North America. He basically reprises the same role he had in Red Dust, twenty-one years earlier. The plot is the same for both films however, in my opinion the small changes are what define each film.

SPOILERS BELOWS: Here’s the rundown… Red Dust’s strengths include snappy dialogue, young/goofy Gable, Gable & Harlow chemistry. Weaknesses include a boring Mary Astor (she’s lame!), lack of chemistry between Astor & Gable, and racist aspect.

Mogambo strengths: Grace Kelly! (need I say more?), the chemistry between Grace & Gable (supposedly continued off the set too), interaction between Grace Kelly & Ava Gardner, the way Ava Gardener saves the day in the end, scenery. Weaknesses: slow moving script, the shorts that ate Clark Gable, no Jean Harlow, the fact that I was disappointed Gable & Kelly didn't end up together at the end of the movie.

I am such a fan of Gable & Harlow! This was definitely one of their best films together. I think it was their first or second pairing out of a total of six films together. The last film they made together, Saratoga, Harlow actually passed away before completing (a lookalike finished her scenes using far away shots). Jean Harlow was such a fantastic actress. In all her movies she comes across as so tough, yet still very feminine and sexy. I feel like this was something not seen too often back in the 30’s and 40’s. I also feel this is why her movies are still so relevant and stand up so well today, given the changed attitudes of our society. Harlow’s tragic death at 26 is a loss for movie lovers everywhere.

Now go watch Harlow & Gable online... tons are posted on YouTube. You can also check out Gable with another one of his frequent costars Joan Crawford (who he also supposedly carried on with off the set). I think my favorite of their is Love On The Run, which is remarkably similar to It Happened One Night... you can thank me later! :)