“The only lions I ever want to see again are the two in front of the public library.”
MGM never made any of their films on a small scale. With Mogambo they went all out and actually filmed some of the scenes actually filmed in Africa. MGM sacrificed story for the sake of production values. I know this is a remake of Red Dust I have yet to see it so I cannot compare the two. I can only hope that Red Dust was a little better.
Victor Marswell (Clark Gable) is a hunter in a small village in Africa. He brings people out on safaris and he also traps animals to send to zoos and circuses. Victor comes back from trying to trap a panther when he sees several suitcases strewn about his home. He gets to the back porch and sees a woman taking a shower. The woman introduces herself as Eloise Kelly (Ava Gardner). He is not thrilled with seeing and she is even less thrilled being in the jungle. Victor gives her the bad news that the maharajah she was supposed to be with there has left to go back to India on important business.
The usual happens- Victor at first does not like Kelly then all the sudden he has the hots for her then he tells her to get lost. Kelly leaves on a boat but is back that night because something happened to the boat. Now she will about when a husband and wife are coming to the complex to go looking for gorillas to study. The husband and wife are Donald and Linda Nordley (the missus being played by Grace Kelly). Almost right away Victor is attracted to Linda and Kelly can see that. Kelly winds tagging along on the trip to find the gorillas. She makes Victor and Linda’s life uncomfortable the whole time since she knows their little secret.
I really have nothing further to write about the plot. I am sure you can tell just by the poster with Clark Gable and Ava Gardner being first billed that they wind up together in the end.
Ava Gardner was the whole film. She just stole all her scenes with her beauty and her fabulous wit. Her character was the only one with a sense of humor and liveliness. She was cynical and delivered the lines to perfection. Gardner had the best lines and scenes of the film whenever she is not in a scene the film just falls flat. Clark Gable was in his fifties by this time and in no way the matinee idol he was when he originally made Red Dust. I have never understood Gable’s appeal he was not a good looking man in any sense of the word and I cannot understand even in character how women could fall for him. Gable and his character just looked like they could not keep up with Gardner and Grace Kelly he looked like he could have cared less for either of them. Grace Kelly… I wanted to smack her in the face so damn bad! Gardner was nominated for her only Academy Award, she deserved it, and should have won. Kelly was nominated for an Oscar as well as a Golden Globe and she won the Golden Globe. So absolutely unfair. Gardner was so much better than Kelly. Kelly was annoying to the most extreme. Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly became very good friends during filming and remained so until Kelly died.
Gene Tierney was supposed to play Linda Nordley but by this time her psychological problems were beginning to interfere with her work. I cannot even imagine how incredible it would have been to see Ava Gardner and Gene Tierney work together. They were two of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. Tierney would have been ten times better than Grace Kelly.
John Ford directed the film. Ford made very manly films especially his films with John Wayne. You can almost imagine Wayne in the lead. Apparently he was very nasty to Ava Gardner during the making of this because he had wanted Maureen O’Hara in her role. Maureen O’Hara as Eloise Kelly? Get the hell out of here! Only Gardner was perfect for the role and if you have yet to see this film you will know why. Clark Gable got into some fights with Ford over his treatment of Gardner.
Mogambo was good I enjoyed it but after a while all the jungle scenes and any scene with Grace Kelly gets tedious. Ava Gardner is the film’s savior she was so amazing. Mogambo is a film I recommend seeing even if it is a little boring because the cast is good (even if Grace was annoying beyond words) and there are some funny scenes.