Screening on Film
Directed by John Ford.
With Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly.
US, 1953, 35mm, color, 116 min.
Print source: George Eastman House

The important role of women in Ford’s cinema is typically overlooked and misunderstood, in part because later major works such as Mogambo - and the criminally disregarded Seven Women - are rarely discussed or screened. An ambitious remake of Red Dust, the racy Pre-Code romance starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, Mogambo is a beautifully crafted tale of a safari adventure gone astray, overturned by the strange love triangle that briefly unites a chorus girl, an anthropologist’s wife and a hunter - an encore role that revived Gable’s late career - in the dark heart of the African jungle. In the case of the women, Ford’s sensitive direction resulted in two alluring revelations, with Ava Gardner displaying an unexpectedly earthy innocence as the city girl strangely at ease in the remote wilderness and a young Grace Kelly, in her first major screen role, unlocking a dark and beguiling eroticism. As in Hawks’ Hatari!, the safari stands in as a vibrant metaphor for the always simmering battle between the sexes.

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