RED DUST. MGM, 1932. Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Gene Raymond, Mary Astor, Donald Crisp. Director: Victor Fleming.


   All things considered, one things a movie fan might ask for is a film that is entertaining all the way through, and well made as well. Here’s one, and isn’t it hard to believe that this picture is almost [80] years old?

   It takes place on a rubber plantation, with Clark Gable in charge of operations. Jean Harlow is a brassy blonde tramp who needs a few weeks away from Saigon, where things have gotten a little too hot for her.

   Gene Raymond is a naive young engineer just hired to do some surveying and irrigation work. Mary Astor is his wife, who has come along with him without realizing how primitive conditions would be.

   Jean Harlow falls in love with Clark Gable, who finds Mary Astor more attractive than he should. Raymond, well, as I said, he’s young and naive. The movie is funny, steamy, and fascinating, all rolled into one.

   I may have mentioned before that I sometimes find Clark Gable’s performances a little too slick for my tastes, but he’s down-to-earth (if not outright earthy) in this film. Jean Harlow was pretty without being beautiful, but she also had a raucous sense of humor that goes well here with her portrayal of a pretty loose woman. A more terrifically matched couple you couldn’t imagine.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File 33, September 1991 (slightly revised).