Red Dust - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Red Dust Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2016
I should warn you up front that to like this movie, you'll have to overlook some serious racism, both in the horribly stereotypical portrayal of an Asian servant referred to as 'boy' (who unfortunately appears many times), as well as in the depiction of the native workers on a rubber plantation in Indochina as lazy and unintelligent 'coolies'. You will have to mentally block that out of your mind, stifle your disgust, or chalk it up to the times. There is also a fair bit of sexism as well.

Clark Gable is in one of his usual roles, the tough guy with loose morals, and Jean Harlow is a prostitute he has a one-night stand with. The prim and proper Mary Astor and her sick husband Gene Raymond arrive on the plantation, and Gable has his eyes on her from the start. Harlow has returned as well, but instead of complicating things, her presence serves as sassy comic relief. Gable sends Raymond away on a difficult assignment so he can seal the deal with Astor, but the resulting affair brings about emotions that are hard for him to deal with - love with Astor, guilt towards Raymond.

Harlow and Gable have good chemistry, but I thought it was matched (if not surpassed) by what he shares with Astor. Harlow of course has the famous scene bathing in a rain barrel, but the scene which has Gable carrying Astor through monsoon rains and then kissing her for 17 seconds is far steamier. It's the rain barrel that drew all of the attention, however, and Harlow's natural charm does shine through. The dialog is engaging and this is a good pre-Code picture that will hold your attention. Just be prepared to cringe at times because of the racism.
January 10, 2016
For old movie buffs (like me).....Can't get much better than this....
January 11, 2015
wow! that was terrific. I see now why the seeds of Ignatius Reilly were sown on that day!
November 21, 2014
For those that have never seen a pre-Code film, RED DUST is a great film to begin with. It certainly isn't shy about dealing with adultery, prostitution, or heavy drinking. Although it was made over 80 years ago, it holds up extremely well by today's standards... Steamy sizzler - Harlow outdoes Gable--You can check the wings and halo at the desk... Sexy, Sultry and Slippery When Wet!!
February 17, 2014
Ms. Harlow's vocal delivery is almost tolerable.
August 18, 2013
Great early Clark Gable film, just one year into his long MGM contract with greater stardom on the way. Now that was a star! Take note Justin whatever your name is. And then there is Jean Harlow , who virtually steals the show with her comic performance. No small feat considering she experienced a terrible personal tragedy right in the middle of filming. Great early film worth seeing.
May 19, 2013
It was a long time ago, but I remember enjoying the chemistry between Gable & Harlow in that hot red dust.
March 17, 2013
If you can get past all of the blatant sexism, racism, classism and general political incorrectness endemic of the time there is a shrewd and wicked little comedy. I found this film much more comedic than romantic as Clark Gable is almost wholly unappealing. Very impressive that this was filmed on the MGM lot and not on location.
March 15, 2013
jean harlow is her usual sexy, charming, fiesty, funny self and clark gable is roguish, fiesty, funny and just amazing chemistry between them. one of my absolute faves.
December 17, 2012
A dynamite movie involving three screen legends: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor. Gable is Denny Carson, who runs a rubber plantation in Indo-China with a tight fist. Along comes Lily Vantine (Ms. Harlow) who just lights up the screen with her explosive persona. Lily explains she had to leave the states because of certain complex issues. All Denny sees is her trampish looks and the two become attached fairly quickly. But that relationship is put under pressure when Gary Willis arrives with his wife Babs (the terrific Astor) to begin work on the plantation. Denny is immediately attracted to Babs and thus a love triangle is formed. Babs husband is totally unaware of what's going on and to be fair he is under the weather with a fever when they first arrive there. Red Dust is one heck of a movie. I know some people complain of the racial overtones but this movie is set in 1932 so just keep that in mind when watching it. As far as performances go, all three leads are sensational. Gable is definetly a man's man in this one. Holding the screen with all his macho swagger he can muster. Jean Harlow is funny all the way through. She spits out lines with rapid fire regularity. And Mary Astor brings a little class to the proceedings. And believe it or not she has one scene where she manages to out-sex Ms. Harlow. After being caught in an unexpected rainstorm, she gets soaked and is carried back to the house by Gable. In that one instant she gives off so much sexual energy, you can feel it coming off the screen. Red Dust is a solid film that delivers action, humor, passion, and some great acting.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vantine: You can check the wings and halo at the desk.
Dennis Morgan: I'll be right up.
½ June 10, 2012
Jean Harlow steals this one walking away, but you're left to wonder what Gable's character could possibly see in the weepy, disloyal Mary Astor. Speaking for the audience, I'd have left her in the jungle to fend for herself, and climbed into that rain barrel with Harlow in an instant.
April 3, 2011
Wonderfully steamy potboiler with one of the most intense love triangles ever seen between Gable, Harlow and Mary Astor. And damn, who knew Judy Garland's onscreen mom was such a fox?
April 20, 2010
I'm not the biggest fan of John Ford's 1953 film - MOGAMBO, which is actually a remake of Victor Fleming's (uncredited) 1932 pre-code drama - RED DUST. Both films star Clark Gable in the lead. I guess my biggest hangup with MOGAMBO is with Gable's he-man character - who persists in getting himself romantically involved with the married ice-queen played by Grace Kelly, especially when there is the much sexier (and available) Ava Gardner character just a-waiting in the wings. Oh well...that's just my feeling anyways - one of those things that I scratch my head over.

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.
April 16, 2010
Boffo reel that deals with a love triangle between Hollywood heavyweights Gable, Harlow & Astor on a rubber plantation in Indochina. Director Fleming nicely sets up the dichotomy between civilized and savage, and then blurs the line courtesy of lust, sex and ultimately love. Bigger-than-life personalities, precode innuendo & matter-of-factness, and a demonstration on rubber-processing techniques all serve to make this a must-see.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ March 6, 2010
In "Red Dust," Dennis Carson(Clark Gable) owns a rubber plantation in Vietnam that he runs with his pal McQuarg(Tully Marshall). Along with the usual problems of too much rain or not enough rain in that part of the world, not to mention the large tiger that has his eyes on the parrot, that make such a business proposition risky and occasionally even gives Carson thoughts about leaving, now he has to deal with Vantine(Jean Harlow) who does not sleep that much at night.(Hint. Hint.) At first, they argue but eventually find peace together. Just as she is leaving on the same boat that is bringing in Gary Willis(Gene Raymond), the new engineer, he finds that along with tennis rackets, he is bringing along a wife(Mary Astor).

"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.
poohtiger
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2009
A dynamite movie involving three screen legends: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor. Gable is Denny Carson, who runs a rubber plantation in Indo-China with a tight fist. Along comes Lily Vantine (Ms. Harlow) who just lights up the screen with her explosive persona. Lily explains she had to leave the states because of certain complex issues. All Denny sees is her trampish looks and the two become attached fairly quickly. But that relationship is put under pressure when Gary Willis arrives with his wife Babs (the terrific Astor) to begin work on the plantation. Denny is immediately attracted to Babs and thus a love triangle is formed. Babs husband is totally unaware of what's going on and to be fair he is under the weather with a fever when they first arrive there. Red Dust is one heck of a movie. I know some people complain of the racial overtones but this movie is set in 1932 so just keep that in mind when watching it. As far as performances go, all three leads are sensational. Gable is definetly a man's man in this one. Holding the screen with all his macho swagger he can muster. Jean Harlow is funny all the way through. She spits out lines with rapid fire regularity. And Mary Astor brings a little class to the proceedings. And believe it or not she has one scene where she manages to out-sex Ms. Harlow. After being caught in an unexpected rainstorm, she gets soaked and is carried back to the house by Gable. In that one instant she gives off so much sexual energy, you can feel it coming off the screen. Red Dust is a solid film that delivers action, humor, passion, and some great acting.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vantine: You can check the wings and halo at the desk.
Dennis Morgan: I'll be right up.
½ August 17, 2009
Precode- and steamier than the 1953 remake also starring Gable. And he has no stache in this one! I am annoyyed by the rampant Orientalism and racism- but I should not be surprised as all the media of the time was saturated. In this movie the main 3 were 90% of the movie- and the story was steamy.
½ August 17, 2009
Jean Harlow is awesome, but this movie is ridiculous (offensive to the point of unreality). I think I like Mogambo a little more, but it's been a while so I'm not certain. The casting is better in Red Dust, but the characterization might be better in Mogambo.
August 13, 2009
Amazing! Clark Gable and Jean Harlow steal the show.
Page 1 of 3