“Don’t mind me, boys — I’m just restless.”
A prostitute (Jean Harlow) on the lam falls for the owner (Clark Gable) of a rubber plantation in Indochina, but Gable is primarily interested in the wife (Mary Astor) of a visiting engineer (Gene Raymond).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Clark Gable Films
- Jean Harlow Films
- Love Triangle
- Mary Astor Films
- Prostitutes and Gigolos
- Victor Fleming Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “hot-blooded jungle romance” by director Victor Fleming (remade as Mogambo by John Ford in 1953) “still has the sexual charge that caused it to break box-office records in the early thirties”. He points out that “unshaven Gable and braless blonde Harlow have immense sexual chemistry at all times — whether he’s standing next to her while she takes her famous nude bath in a barrel or she sits by him as he lies on a bed, reading to him a children’s bedtime story while he’s putting his hand on her knee.” The storyline is simple but powerful, showing Gable’s sway over “well-bred Astor” (who hates herself for cheating on her noble husband), as well as Harlow’s immense patience and world-weariness. She’s been through enough that a disappointment like Gable choosing Astor over her stings a bit, but she’ll survive intact, and never loses her self-possession or sense of innate dignity. It’s easy to imagine Joan Crawford in a role like this; indeed, Red Dust and Rain (1932) — another film about a fugitive prostitute on a rainy island — would make a potent double-bill.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
Yes, as a pre-Code classic. Selected in 2006 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.