Red Dust

Red Dust ★★★½

In this humid, pre-Code jungle cuckolding, Clark Gable previews his Rhett Butler swagger, Jean Harlow is the first bombshell to land on Vietnam, and no actress has ever looked better soaking wet than Mary Astor.

Jean Harlow is the brightest of the three stars, not just because she was a blinding supernova, but because she confidently knows who she is. Mary Astor is shocked to discover she’s a big a sinner as this magdalene, and Gable’s a total dick until he gets stuck out in the monsoon and catches a bad case of nobility.

John Ford would replace the dark claustrophobia of Indochina rubber plantation for the Technicolor wonders of the African savannah in his more nuanced, less racy remake, Mogambo 1953.

Suggested double feature pairing: The Letter 1940

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