I wasn’t expecting much and wasn’t crazy about the love-triangle plot. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this movie.
Victor Marswell (Clark Gable) is a Great White Hunter who makes a living guiding safaris and capturing animals for zoos around the world. One day, Eloise Kelly (Ava Gardner) shows up to join a maharaja friend on a safari. The two immediately start trading barbs. The maharaja has already left for India and the boat that would take Eloise back to civilization will require lengthy repairs. Victor then decides Kelly is alright and they begin an affair.
Later, a young couple, the Nordleys, show up to be guided on a safari to gorilla country. He is an anthropologist and his wife Linda (Grace Kelly) is a very upper-crust beauty, the polar opposite of the earthy Kelly. So Victor starts an affair with her under her husband’s nose. She and Kelly start feuding. All is solved by the end courtesy of the Hayes Code.
I’ve never thought much of Ava Gardner as an actress but she is excellent in this movie. I think she should have had a chance to do more cynical parts like this and maybe some comedy. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that this was directed by John Ford. He couldn’t do much with the script but he makes Africa look really beautiful. It’s all soapy stuff but somehow I was very entertained throughout.
This is a re-make of Red Dust (1932) with Gable in the same part, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor. I still have not had a chance to see that one.
Ava Gardner was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and Grace Kelly got a nod for Best Supporting Actress.