As we continue on with our celebration of Clark Gable as our Star Of The Month, we’ve got his 1956 film The King And Four Queens, which also co-stars Eleanor Parker. But first, let’s get through our theatrical short before getting around to the main event!
Coming Up Shorts! with… An Ounce Of Pink (1965)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
The Pink Panther runs across a coin-operated talking weight and fortune-telling machine, and he buys it to keep with him. Numerous fun gags here, with the main recurring gag being the machine stopping in the midst of a sentence that requires the Panther to put another coin in (even after he buys it). I will admit the gags themselves are mostly predictable (pun intended), as the machine gives vague predictions that sound good, only to turn out bad for the Panther (with one that *could* have gone well had the Panther not felt distrust over the previous situations). Still, it does provide a few laughs, and I certainly enjoy listening to Larry Storch as the voice of the machine!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Conman Dan Kehoe (Clark Gable) is on the run from a group on horseback, but he successfully evades them. In the first town he comes to, he learns about the nearby town of Wagon Mound, which is currently occupied by a hostile Ma McDade (Jo Van Fleet) and her four daughters-in-law. Apparently, her four sons had stolen over one hundred thousand dollars worth of gold, and had taken it to Wagon Mound, chased by a posse. While there, three of the four boys were blown up, and the fourth escaped (but which one, nobody knew). The gold was left there in Wagon Mound, and the McDade ladies were all there protecting it against outsiders. Dan decides to look into it himself. He fakes being pursued, and rides into the town, only to be shot in the arm by Ma. He is then brought in and bandaged up. The young (potential) widows, Sabina (Eleanor Parker), Ruby (Jean Willes), Birdie (Barbara Nichols) and Oralie (Sara Shane), are all thrilled at the sight of him, much to Ma’s dismay. When Dan wakes up, he pretends to have been sent there by another man, thinking he would be safe there. Ma’s not sure what to make of him, but she lets him stay the night. As he flirts with the receptive widows, Ma pushes him to leave. However, before he can, Sheriff Tom Larrabee (Roy Roberts) arrives with a posse, thinking him to be the missing McDade boy. However, Dan makes a deal with the sheriff to stay and be a lookout, should the missing McDade arrive. After the sheriff leaves, Dan tells Ma about his deal, in an attempt to stay longer (so that the sheriff wouldn’t be suspicious). While there, he continues to work his charms on the young widows in an attempt to find out if any of them know the location of the gold, but none of them know (but they certainly want to team up with him to find it and get out of there). It seems that if anybody knows where the gold is, it’s Ma, but will she give up that information to a man that she doesn’t seem to trust?
The King And Four Queens was produced by Clark Gable’s production company (GABCO) in partnership with Jane Russell (whom he had co-starred with the previous year in The Tall Men) and her husband Robert Waterfield. The movie was filmed on location in St. George, Utah, with some of the interiors filmed back in Hollywood. It’s been said that there were three endings shot for the movie, with the plan being for the preview audiences to choose which one they liked best. This ended up being the first, last and only movie that Clark Gable produced, as much as the stress affected his health.
I personally had a lot of fun watching this movie. It was my first time seeing it, but Clark Gable carried the movie quite well! His charm is on full display, as he convincingly flirts with all four of the widows (to varying effect). I enjoyed watching the movie for him alone! And the rest of the cast worked well for me, too, with Jo Van Fleet as Ma doing pretty well (seriously, I wouldn’t want to go up against her, as tough as she seems to be in this film)! I will grant you that, if you’re looking for a western to have big gunfights, this one will be a disappointment. But, I didn’t need one, as I enjoyed watching the story from start to finish. So, I would definitely give my recommendation for this movie!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.
Film Length: 1 hour, 24 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Eleanor Parker – Home From The Hill (1960)