best film:  Gone With the Wind is a masterpiece of epic movie-making. Whether it’s the gorgeous color photography, crane shots (in combination with a myriad of extras to provide proper scope), writing or acting—it’s a film that has it all. . It Happened One Night is Gable’s only other masterpiece but it can’t quite touch the pinnacle of Hollywood’s golden year (or Hollywood in general in a lot of ways).

best performance:  Gone With the Wind but those who claim it’s It Happened One Night aren’t crazy either. To me, Rhett Butler is justifiably one of the best characters in the art form’s history and Gable brings him to life. He’s extraordinarily charming. Vivian Leigh drives the film’s narrative, Scarlett is a great character as well, and she gets to close out the first half of the film with a scene any actor would kill for— but it’s Gable who floats along the narrative and drops in periodically to enchant the screen- take it all up- and then he gets to lower the boom at the end of the film. It’s perfection from Gable.

stylistic innovations/traits:  Those without a depth of knowledge of the films in the era may be surprised Gable isn’t in the top 25. Those top two films and performances sure look like the resume someone who should be included in the top 25 or even top 10 but frankly (my dear), there’s not much there after Gone With the Wind in 1939 if you’re trakcing his career and moving from 1940 on. It’s shocking actually that the “King of Hollywood” had really only one more big performance his career (The Misfits which he refers to as the second best part he was ever offered after Gone With the Wind). Of course during the 1930’s he was king. He’s great in Red Dust, Manhattan Melodrama, Test Pilot and Boom Town but he very rarely in his career aligned with the right auteurs- perhaps Capra was the exception and then solid work with John Huston and John Ford once. Overall there’s a total of 13 archiveable films from Gable and only 4 from 1940 to 1961 when he died, far too young, tragically at age 59.

directors worked with:   Victor Fleming (3), Clarence Brown (2) and then once with Robert Wise, John Huston, John Ford and Frank Capra

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Gone With the Wind
  2. It Happened One Night
  3. The Misfits
  4. Red Dust
  5. Mutiny on the Bounty

 

 

Archiveable films

1931- A Free Soul
1932- Red Dust
1934- It Happened One Night
1934- Manhattan Melodrama
1935- Mutiny on the Bounty
1936- San Francisco
1936- Wife vs. Secretary
1938- Test Pilot
1939- Gone With the Wind
1940- Boom Town
1953- Mogambo
1958- Run Silent, Run Deep
1961- The Misfits