Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chris 2010 Viewings #17: Mogambo

US, 1953. Directed by John Ford. Starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly.

Manly man Clark Gable lives at an outpost in Africa, capturing big game for circuses, zoos, and the like. He also takes high-paying folk on safari. His only companions are some natives, a roly-poly Brit and a drunk Russian, who defied my expectations and at no point in the film gets anyone killed due to negligence or shiftiness. Into Gable's orderly life of macho comes vexy Ava Gardner, with whom he spars verbally and then gets it on. Soon uptight British anthropologist Donald Sinden and his uptight British wife Grace Kelly show up and Gable becomes convinced that Kelly is the one for him, and she gets the same feeling.

Gardner is upset and gets snippy with everyone, rendering her likeable character annoying for a full hour or so of the running time. Gable and Kelly go for walks when hubby isn't around and hold on to each other and wonder what they should do. They all go on safari, to observe and maybe capture some deadly gorillas. Will hubby get killed by a gorilla, thus removing the one obstacle to their great and wonderful love? Will Kelly and Gardner get into a catfight? Will the drunk Russian get someone killed by accident? (No, I told you that already.)

There is a lot of beautiful colour location shooting in this film, some good suspense, and reasonably entertaining melodramatics. The major cog in the wheel is that Gable and Kelly have no onscreen chemistry whatsoever (in spite of their offscreen affair), while Gable and Gardner have it by the bucketload, rendering the whole passionate Gable/Kelly love dilemma fairly ridiculous. Other than that the only thing really wrong here is that I spent the entire movie waiting for the Russian to get someone killed and it never happened.

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