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Red Dust

By Luisa F. Ribeiro | Posted

These days, when the biggest male movie stars are eternal boys (Cruise, Pitt, DiCaprio), it's hard to remember that once celluloid romantic heroes were unabashedly Men. The undisputed head of the pack from the early '30s until World War II was Clark Gable, rippling with electrifying magnetism and impudent charm. In 1932, after numerous bit parts and nearly a dozen supporting roles playing brutish heavies who bopped around as many women as men, Gable was finally hitting his stride as a romantic lead with radiant Jean Harlow in the scintillating blockbuster Red Dust. Gable glowers as a rubber-plantation owner in Indochina and Harlow teases as a good-humored trollop with a heart of gold whose games are interrupted by the arrival of a naïve engineer (Gene Raymond) and his restless wife (Mary Astor, generating a good deal of oomph herself, especially during a rain storm). Smart, humorous writing, fast-paced direction, and all that star power make for a sizzling romance that still burns brightly nearly 70 years later.

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