CAST

Clark Gable
Lana Turner
Robert Sterling
Patricia Dane
Reginald Owen
Lee Patrick
Charles Dingle
Rags Ragland
Van Johnson
DIRECTED BY

Wesley Ruggles
PURCHASE

Movie
Soundtrack
Book
Poster
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Time: 108 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romance/Drama/World War II
Even the fiery chemistry between Gable and Turner can't make this propagandist plonk palatable. Clearly concocted mere months after Pearl Harbor, the film attempts to hide it's pro-war message – that America's involvement in WWII is necessary and righteous despite the loss of life – in a tangled love story between three reporters. Turner plays Paula Lane, the object of lust and affection for two war correspondents, who also happen to be brothers. Gable stars as the wildly unpredictable Jonny, a man who woos Paula away from his younger brother Kirk (Sterling) in order to protect him from her wily and unfaithful ways. She seems to fit the bill, yet she's only cheating on Kirk because she's in love with Jonny. In fact, she has been ever since Jonny stood her up three years before. It's not like she's stepping out with a different guy every night – a concept lost on Jonny and the filmmakers. She's even honest with Kirk about her feelings for his brother. We can't have our heroine be a common whore.

Tired of having her heart trampled on and her emotions toyed with, Paula accepts an assignment to Indo-China to illuminate America about the struggles of war from a woman's perspective. Her departure and Jonny's mean-spirited meddling drive a wedge between the brothers that only love can heal. When the brothers are informed of her sudden disappearance they bury the hatchet in an effort to find her before they lose her permanently. It seems that instead of merely reporting the story, she's become a part of it. Thanks to Johnny's unsavory connections, they find her endangering her own life to save refugee children from the hands of the Japanese. Even this unselfish act is not enough to change Johnny's mind about her, though her peril exposes his true feelings. She may not be good enough for his brother, but she's the perfect gal for him. However, fighting the war comes first and he sends them both packing, presumedly to safety. His infernal meddling fires their own desires to control their destinies, placing the threesome on a path of grave danger that doesn't end well.

As a pro-War film, it's pretty clear once they reach Indo-China and become embroiled in the conflict that one of them is not going to make it out of the film alive. I'll give you one guess who that is. Produced in the beginning of our involvement, Hollywood was enlisted to make films that would cause the public to feel good about our role in the conflict and guilty/patriotic enough that they would donate money to the war effort. As if the ending wasn't obvious enough, the call to buy war bonds at the end of the film makes the motives behind this story all too clear. Does that make it bad entertainment? Not completely, but the tone of the final twenty minutes shifts so dramatically as to make the rest of the film seem trivial. One is either making a light romantic comedy or an intense war drama. The two are not easily mixed, which is proven by this film. One can't have two of Hollywood's most attractive stars working together without a little romance, but I felt cheated when the tone and story changed into a barrage of bullets and bodies. It's unexpected, and not in a good way.

I'm sure everyone involved felt they were helping the country by making this film, but that still doesn't make it great entertainment. While this may be Gable and Turner's best flick together, that's not saying much. Trapped by the conventions of the time, their chemistry is never allowed to blossom, which is a real shame. When they're onscreen together they make a wonderfully sexy and witty team. The rest of the film is bogged down by righteousness. Only major fans of either need to spend the time.