Clark Gable at Fox: Soldier of Fortune + The Tall Men (1955)

November 25, 2019 | By

Just posted are reviews of two late-career Clark Gable pictures, produced at 20th Century-Fox following MGM’s dropping of the King’s contract. The move to a new studio as a freelancer wasn’t an unusual conundrum for stars who were seen as old, too expensive, and not as sexy as younger stars & starlets being groomed under the studios’ wilting contract system.


The established legend paired with an emerging legend.


Gable was a good actor, and the pair being reviewed here show the problems when one set of filmmakers relied on his screen charisma to transcend a mediocre script, and the other put him in a comfortable rustic environment, sharing screen time with the great Robert Ryan, and a solid script by two veteran scribes.


See that tattooed dude to the far right? NOT IN THE FILM. DOES NOT EXIST.


Now, Soldier of Fortune (1955) is not a bad movie, but a flawed production whose main attraction is the superb widescreen cinematography of Leo Tover. The contrast between present day Hong Kong and the coastal city circa 1954 is striking, whereas Gable and Susan Hayward’s scenes and Edward Dmytryk’s direction are, well, not.


Everyone’s tall in this CinemaScope production!


To the other end, The Tall Men (1955) is an underrated gem directed Raoul Walsh, and features more stunning Tover cinematography and montages fixating on the moving mass of cattlemen and a herd being driven across state lines. It’s a big western without any element being overstated – quite a feat – and as weak as Jane Russell’s role may be, she seemed to have fun with the bawdy character who teases one man clearly in love with her, and the other who sees just a trophy.

Tall Men is one of Twilight Time’s last releases of the year, and hopefully not the last Fox title to be licensed prior to Disney’s 2019 absorption of the Fox catalogue.

Coming shortly: Susan Lacy’s  portrait of Spielberg (2018), originally made for HBO.

Thanks for reading,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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