Red Dust

Red Dust ★★★

A rubber plantation in French Indochina acts as the backdrop to a love triangle between Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor. In her breakout role, Jean Harlow is a prostitute that Gable does business with before he sends her packing. Mary Astor is the newly arriving uptight/proper wife of an engineer, that Gable immediately gets designs for. Clark Gable is the womanizing cad foreman who sets out to have an affair, only to develop feelings for Astor. When Harlow becomes stranded on the remote plantation, it doesn't so much complicate Gable's courting, as give him another person to treat like crap.

An MGM production of Hunt Stromberg & Irving Thailberg, with Victor Fleming in the director's chair, and numerous Wizard of Oz principles in play from editor Blanche Sewell to cinematographer Harold Rosson - Red Dust is considered a classic for a reason. There are aspects about it that are cringe inducing - racist comic relief in Willie Fung immediately springs to mind, but those looking into the pre-code "horrible men and their fantastic libido" subgenre will find a lot to like. Even as the story failed to grab my attention, the set design and compositions keep me involved, Red Dust is stunning looking.

Even if their characters aren't likeable, their easily watchable.

Victor Fleming would direct Clark Gable as Rhett Buttler at the end of the decade.

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