Love On The Run (1936)
When MGM loaned out Clark Gable to Columbia and so called tyrant Harry Cohn as some sort of punishment, Gable got the last laugh and a little statuette to go with it. The film was It Happened One Night and it proved to not only be successful but the formula was easily recycled. So why shouldn’t MGM rewrite the central idea and cast a couple of their own contract stars. As a matter of fact, why not just put Gable back into what one could argue is the same role.
Gable stars here as a fast talking newspaper reporter who is continually at odds with Franchot Tone in getting the scoop on the latest topic that is worthy of the front page. At the four minute mark of this W.S. Van Dyke production our plot is set in motion. Joan Crawford has left her man at the altar and bumps into Gable who instinctively goes into action. He whisks her away on a plane disguised as a Baron and Baroness. Did I mention Clark has no idea how to operate a plane? No worries. This is the Clark Gable we’re talking about and he’ll learn “on the fly.”
Naturally Gable hasn’t told Joan that he is a reporter and wiring his news stories back to editor William Demarest for the evening editions. Joan can’t stand nosy reporters and when Tone catches up Gable has to stay one step ahead of the not so wise competition. The plot will take a turn towards espionage when it turns out that the identities and plane they stole actually belong to spies with secret plans now in Gable’s hands.
Along the way there will be time for some comedy and romance between our legendary stars from MGM’s stable. While touring France on the run they wind up in an amusing bit in an ancient castle/museum where the nightly caretaker played by Donald Meek takes them for ghostly figures. They in turn don’t know what to make of Meek and his ghostly dog.
Like all romantic screwball comedies the two will have to break up and Joan will want her pound of flesh for his being a reporter the whole time. She feels used and betrayed while Clark just feels like a heel. Perhaps the spies can catch up and somehow Gable and Tone can come out heroes. Is there really any doubt how this one will end at the final curtain?
At the time of this film’s release Joan was actually married to third string Franchot Tone but when watching the film it’s so easy to see where her on screen chemistry lay. No wonder her and Gable made so many films together throughout the thirties.
Along with Demarest and Meek rounding out the cast is Reginald Owen and Mona Barrie as our spies trailing the lovely couple across the continent. I could also swear that mixed in with some on lookers at the museum “bit” is Marjorie Main. She has no lines and isn’t billed by the IMDB site either. So perhaps you’ve heard it here first. According to the data base she has no credits in 1935 or 36 so maybe I’m correct. If you have a copy have a look at the lady standing with a hat on as the group of tourists look in on a sleeping Gable.
Due to the fact that It Happened One Night exists this film is probably looked at as nothing more than a weak knock off. A fair assessment with much of the comedy strained but with two of cinema’s legendary stars involved it’s hard to pass up.