The major power in Honky Tonk is in the love scenes between Clark Gable and Lana Turner. Gable, ‘Candy’ Johnson, is a western grifter, working the three-card monte game. He and his sidekick (Chill Wills) wind up in a gold-strike town where Gable immediately renews an acquaintanceship with Turner. She’s the daughter of Frank Morgan, also a former con guy but now the justice of the peace. Gable gets Morgan under his thumb and then proceeds to take over the town.
Claire Trevor is in a standard part for her. As a gambling room hustler and dealer she’s tops and the inflection she puts into calling her ex-sweetheart Gable ‘Candyman’ will get a chuckle. Albert Dekker is a fine actor and able menace; Morgan does very well with his part, the same going for Chill Wills. Marjorie Main is excellent as the hard-bitten rooming housekeeper.
The screenplay, though padded a bit, is excellent for this action picture purpose; Jack Conway’s direction is good without overplay of naturally exaggerated characters.