Parnell

  • 1937
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Biography

PARNELL was Clark Gable's biggest financial disaster. He was so struck by the thud that he vowed to never again play in a period piece. The failure of PARNELL caused the studio to have to convince him to accept the role of Rhett Butler in another period film that did somewhat better. Based on a play, the movie had the screenplay written by not one, but...read more

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PARNELL was Clark Gable's biggest financial disaster. He was so struck by the thud that he vowed to never again play in a period piece. The failure of PARNELL caused the studio to have to convince him to accept the role of Rhett Butler in another period film that did somewhat better. Based

on a play, the movie had the screenplay written by not one, but two eminent playwrights, Van Druten and Behrman, but it didn't help. The problem was the miscasting of Gable, whose attempts at an Irish accent were laughable. A 1936 popularity poll named Gable as "King of Hollywood," so he must have

thought he could play the role of the "uncrowned King of Ireland." He was mistaken. Gable is in the U.S. attempting to secure donations for the wretched poor of Ireland. Gable goes back to Erin, and the country rallies behind his desire for independence. Loy is separated from Marshal, a villainous

man, and she is currently residing with her aunt, Oliver, a well-to-do woman who has plenty of space in her huge home. Oliver pays Marshal money, so he keeps his distance, but he won't give her a divorce for fear of losing his stipend. Marshal wants to run for Parliament and needs to put up a

front, so he asks Loy if she will help and be a hostess to Gable, who is so powerful that, if he gives his backing, Marshal will probably win the election. Loy goes to Gable's office to meet him, and he says he recognizes her from having seen her at the opera a short time before. He knew at that

time that they would meet. He agrees to come to her house for dinner but has to leave on an important emergency before cigars and brandy are served. Loy sees him to the door, he declares his love for her and an affair begins. (In real life, it went on for many years, but in the picture they

compress it to just a few months.) Gable continues his labors on behalf of his country, and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, but Marshal appears and uses blackmail. He wants Gable to appoint him to a high post once the country achieves independence. Gable won't hear of it, and

Marshal threatens to bring a messy divorce suit and name Gable as the reason for it. Love makes an announcement at a dinner that Gable's petition for home rule is going to be brought to Parliament, a great feather for Gable's cap. But there's a problem. While the reception takes place, newsboys

are screaming the headlines that Marshal has, in fact, named Gable in the divorce. The bill for home rule is not introduced, and it looks as though Gable has betrayed his land for the love of a woman. Loy thinks she can solve matters by claiming that Marshal originally invited Gable to their home

in order to do this nefarious deed, but Gable won't hear of her sullying her good name, and he allows the suit to continue with nolo contendere on his part. Gable vainly attempts to keep the political party together, but his old pals turn their backs on him and the unit disintegrates. Gable has a

heart attack at a political meeting, then is carried to Loy's home where he dies. It's slow, pretentious, expensive, and boring. The studio spent $750,000 to make the movie and lost $600,000. They built an entire Irish Village in Chatsworth, in the San Fernando Valley, and used almost 2,000

extras. Good costumes, authentic sets, and a story that took liberties with the truth. Marshal's character was not the rat he was in the script, and Gable's was hardly a deacon of the church. The rotten way the British treated the Irish is never seen, and that's a mistake because it's hard to

engender any sympathy for the Irish cause unless the reasons are given for their behavior. The best parts in this film went to the secondary players. In a tiny role, an actual member of Parliament, Randolph Churchill, played a member of Parliament and said he earned more money acting it than

living it.

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  • Review: PARNELL was Clark Gable's biggest financial disaster. He was so struck by the thud that he vowed to never again play in a period piece. The failure of PARNELL caused the studio to have to convince him to accept the role of Rhett Butler in another period fi… (more)

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