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Mogambo Reviews

An action-packed remake of RED DUST (1932), this is an oddity in the Ford canon, lacking his stock company and many of the themes that make up his unmistakable signature. Showgirl Eloise "Honey Bear" Kelly (Gardner), waiting for a steamer in the African jungle, meets safari leader Victor Marswell (Gable, reprising his earlier role). Sex and love follow, but when anthropologist Donald Nordley (Sinden) and his prim but horny wife Linda (Kelly) arrive, Marswell decides to apply his blowtorch to her iceberg. This not only distresses Honey Bear, but may also prove deadly for one third of the love triangle. MOGAMBO lacks the engaging rauchiness of the superior RED DUST and the wild banter between Gable and his ideal co-star Jean Harlow. Here the verbal sparring goes on between Gardner and Kelly, while Gable wisely replaces his young buck of yore with a more weatherbeaten bwana. Ford provides action all the way, trekking his cameras through Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda. There are scenes, reminiscent of Ford's westerns, in which he visually exploits the lavish African landscape. Kelly, teetering on the brink of major stardom, is quite effective as the repressed wife, and Gardner gives one of the most appealing, relaxed performances of her career. MGM had wanted to get rid of the high-priced Gable for some time, and he subsequently left the studio after completing his next film, BETRAYED. MOGAMBO, however, proved such a bonanza (returning almost $5 million on its initial release) that MGM soon regretted its decision.