Red Dust Reviews
gable always dismisses harlow by shutting at her rudely meanwhile has no objection to acquiant himself with her bedside curtain.(which means he disrepects her but sex with her anyway) however, the intensely lovelorn harlow would always endure his musculine vulgarities (which he makes no attempt to conceal from her) like a good little woman with her own bawdy prole demeanors such as uttering obscenely humorous quib lines.
male audience then had an affinity with gable's character that might be due to their own sense of priviledged gender concepts beautified by gable's dashing good looks and his redundancy of female admirers but also identified with his savage roughness and his abusive manners. he has the vices american audience's fond of and also the shrewd manliness approved by men in general that makes him the so called "diamond in the raw" which is the good-looking sexy beast who takes what he wants egoistically like men assume themselves to be. he proves his competence of male charm by successfully seducing the genteel wife but toss her aside once he finally yields to the bourgeois concern of nobility. he loves and runs, eventually even rewarded with a glamour beauty as compensation.
additionally, the way those characters treat asian coolies is a vital proof of racism then...when astor gives a line like "how could you treat my husband like one of those coolies" or implicitly deeming them as "animals" or "civilized barbarians" constantly with a goofy smirks on their cheeks.
when it comes to the entertainment level, it's still a well-performed flick with engrossing melodramtic clashes between characters that appease audience's salacious want but also concede to the righteously happy ending without intruding the moralistic bourgeois mass.
"Red Dust" is a robust and old fashioned entertainment that transcends its soap opera structure by sheer star power alone. The central message is that one should not always go by first impressions and how people can surprise you, especially in the relationship between Carson and Vantine. However, I know this may be unfair with about eight decades of hindsight but it is disappointing that director Victor Fleming does not heed this same advice when it comes to the natives, going by Carson's and Willis' observations alone of how lazy they are.
Vantine: You can check the wings and halo at the desk.
Dennis Morgan: I'll be right up.
At least in RED DUST, Gable's character explains himself as to why he doesn't readily jump all over Jean Harlow's character: "...eh, I've been lookin' at her kind ever since my voice changed". Okay, I'll buy that...and besides, I don't think I've ever seen Mary Astor (who plays the married ice queen here) look sooo sexy. Nothing like a good soaking from a monsoon rainstorm to help drive up one's libido! But that's Hollywood pre-code for you. This film just wallows in adultery thematically...and became one of 1932's biggest hits.
Dennis Carson (Clark Gable) owns a rubber plantation in French Indochina. He's a rather testy individual and spends his time either berating his drunkard of a foreman (Donald Crisp) or yelling at his "coolie" workers. Carson's right-hand man, McQuarg (Tully Marshall) suggests he take a trip to Saigon (they pronounce it "Say-Gon", rather than "Sigh-Gon") to blow off some steam. Carson declines the offer saying he is expecting Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) - his new surveyor, to arrive at any moment by steamboat.
But arriving first at the plantation is Vantine (Jean Harlow), a "working woman" *wink wink* hiding out from the law. Although Carson usually doesn't allow women onto his plantation, he reluctantly gives Vantine permission to stay. When the surveyor Gary Willis finally arrives...Carson is surprised that he has his prim & proper wife, Barbara (Mary Astor) in tow...and the basis for a love triangle falls neatly into place.
I think Jean Harlow has some of the best lines here. She certainly livens up the film whenever she is onscreen. I think she really steals the show from Gable here. Harlow had previously co-starred with Gable in the 1931 flick, THE SECRET SIX, and was already a rising star before the release of RED DUST. Publicity surrounding the suicide death of her then husband (Paul Bern) during production - help made this a box-office hit. She would be re-teamed with Gable for 4 subsequent films (before her untimely death in 1937).
In a way, RED DUST kind of reminds me of a similar film, RAIN directed by Lewis Milestone, which stars Joan Crawford and Walter Huston. I think RAIN is the superior of the two - but RED DUST has it's moments and is certainly a pre-code classic.