TO PLEASE A LADY. MGM, 1950. Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Will Geer, Roland Winters, Frank Jenks. Director: Clarence Brown.

   The two lead characters were bound to clash. Clark Gable portrays Mike Brannan, an amoral racecar driver who will do anything to win. Barbara Stanwyck appears as Regina Forbes, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who isn’t afraid to use the written word to make and break men.

   When they first meet at the racetrack, it’s natural that there’s going to be some tension between these two strong personalities, and before you know it, “tension” is an understatement. When Regina lays into Brannan in one of her columns, all but accusing him of negligently murdering a fellow racecar driver during a particularly aggressive race, that all but ends Brannan’s career. Somehow, though, Regina can’t keep her mind off the man whose career she ruined, and thus begins an unlikely love-hate relationship between the two. No explanation is given, of course. The plot goes where it has to.

   Putting aside the plot for a moment, the most important thing to know about To Please a Lady is that it has immense star power. The names Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck on the marquee were sure to fill the seats. Unfortunately, aside from the screen presence of these two Hollywood giants, this rather formulaic romantic drama really doesn’t have all that much to offer.

   Sure, the movie hits all the proverbial beats that one would expect in such a film: initial hatred between the two leads, tension, falling in love, falling out of love, tension, conflict, and ultimate reconciliation and permanent love. Unfortunately, these plot turns are as dizzyingly predictable as the final race scene filmed in Indianapolis, all of which makes this movie about speed a rather turgid affair.