Review: ‘Red Dust’

Familiar plot stuff, but done so expertly it almost overcomes the basic script shortcomings and the familiar hot-love-in-the-isolated-tropics theme [from the play by Wilson Collison].

Familiar plot stuff, but done so expertly it almost overcomes the basic script shortcomings and the familiar hot-love-in-the-isolated-tropics theme [from the play by Wilson Collison].

This time it’s a rubber plantation in Indo-China, bossed by Clark Gable. Jean Harlow is the Sadie Thompson of the territory. Enter Gene Raymond and Mary Astor on Raymond’s initial engineering assignment. Gable makes a play for Astor and it looks like the young husband will have his ideals shattered when circumstances cause Gable to send them both back to a more civilized existence, with more conventional standards, leaving Harlow as a more plausible (and, for audience purposes, more acceptable) playmate.

It’s as simple as all that, basically. Astor is oke in the passive virtuous moments, but falls down badly on the clinches, sustained only by Gable. As the putteed, unshaven he-man rubber planter Gable’s in his element, sustaining an unsympathetic assignment until it veers about a bit.

Harlow’s elementary conception of moral standards, so far as the decent kid explorer (Raymond) is concerned, sort of gilds her lily of the fields assignment. She plays the light lady to the limit, however, not overdoing anything.

Red Dust

Production

M-G-M. Director Victor Fleming; Producer [uncredited]; Screenplay John Lee Mahin; Camera Harold Rosson; Editor Blanche Sewell; Music [uncredited]; Art Director Cedric Gibbons

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1932. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Clark Gable Jean Harlow Gene Raymond Mary Astor Donald Crisp Tully Marshall
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