Release year: 1952
Director: Vincent Sherman
Screenwriter: Borden Chase, Howard Estabrook (novel)
Starring: Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Broderick Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi, Ed Begley, James Burke
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #101, week 20 2016
Cattle baron Devereaux Burke (Clark Gable) is enlisted by ex-President Andrew Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) to find Sam Houston who has an important voice in the question on whether Texas should enter into annexation with Mexico. The opposition is led by wealthy rancher Thomas Craden (Broderick Crawford) who will do just about anything to get his way. Meanwhile, Burke will do just about anything to get his way with Craden’s woman Martha (Ava Garden) who is the only woman that has ever caught his interest.
This big star western delivers more than just gun fights and Indians, it is a political drama with historical elements of the troubled times around the Texas Revolution as well as a fine romance. With a cast of big stars led by Gable (Gone With the Wind, 1939) and Gardner (The Killers, 1946), and support from Crawford (All the King’s Men, 1949) and Barrymore (It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946) in his final role, the acting is superb with especially the the two leads sizzling with onscreen chemistry. With the two as opponents the scene is set for passion and with the stunning Gardner and ultimate screen lover Gable the feelings heat up to a degree where they almost melt the screen. Their romance is a nice break from the political tension and discussion before the movie climaxes in an intense showdown reminding you of an in many ways simpler time where men were men.
Lionel Barrymore also played President Andrew Jackson in The Gorgeous Hussy (1936).
Director Vincent Sherman became known as a ‘woman’s director’ because he was known for getting strong performances from his female stars. He didn’t like the title.
Clark Gable and Ava Gardner also starred together in The Hucksters (1947) and Mogambo (1953)
Picture copyright: MGM