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Despite a 20-year difference in their ages, Clark Gable and Lana Turner proved to be a popular romantic on-screen combo in the 1940s, nearly as potent as Gable's 1930s teamings with Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow. The two were first paired in Honky Tonk (1941) and made three more pictures together over the next dozen years or so. Somewhere I'll Find You (1942) was their second film, and it cast them as war correspondents with a love-hate relationship. Despite a third corner of the romantic triangle in the person of Robert Sterling (playing Gable's younger brother), the stars end up in each other's arms naturally, but not before enduring nearly two hours of wartime hardship and tragedy.
The real tragedy though happened off screen. After several years of a secretive affair, Gable and the great love of his life, actress Carole Lombard, were married in March 1939. They were one of Hollywood's most popular couples (although they only appeared on screen together once, in No Man of Her Own, 1932), and from all reports greatly devoted to each other and their life away from the Hollywood glamour scene. Following up on the big box office success of the first Gable-Turner pairing, MGM had adapted a popular 1940 Cosmopolitan serial as a wartime drama for the two and went into production in mid-January 1942 under the title "Red Light." Three days into filming the shoot was halted. Lombard, who had traveled to her native Indiana with her mother on a war bond tour, was killed in a plane crash returning to California. Gable was devastated, unable to work or even see people. The studio was prepared to scrap the picture completely, but four weeks after the crash, Gable decided to return to work. He did, however, demand to keep the set closed and kept mostly to himself in his dressing room when not in front of the cameras. The usually fun-loving and sociable Turner restrained herself in deference to her co-star's grief. On the other hand, she did not baby him or display any signs of being maudlin; cast and crew were under the strictest orders not to do so, and those that did were met with Gable's stony silence.
On a lighter note, Turner's look in the picture drew substantial attention. Forsaking her typical high-glamour gloss for the more down-to-earth style of a hard-working war correspondent, she nevertheless managed to keep up an appeal that, as one critic put it, always suggested "that she is looking up from a pillow." MGM's publicity department, perhaps noting the stir caused when Paramount starlet Veronica Lake trimmed her much-copied peek-a-boo bangs to encourage a more practical wartime hairdo, made sure the wire services were on hand to report the shorter, more sensible bob Turner sported for this film. Dubbed "The Victory Hairdo," it caught on quickly; when the story reached England, the studio was contacted for instructions for the coiffure so that British women could adopt the look as a safe and practical way to keep long hair out of the way of defense plant machinery.
Somewhere I'll Find You was a huge success, and the studio indicated there would soon be more Gable-Turner matches to come. But not long after completing principal photography, Gable joined the Army. He would not return to motion pictures for another three years. And his next teaming with Turner would have to wait until Homecoming (1948), another wartime drama revolving around the pair's initial antagonism turning to romance.
Gable's defection to the military left MGM without its top male star. In fact, with so many of its leading actors heading off to war duty, the studio scrambled to find replacements who could prove equally popular with audiences. They found one in a young supporting player in this picture, Van Johnson. Due to a bad auto accident that left him with a metal plate in his head, Johnson was ineligible for service. Although he was uncredited in this movie, within a year he was third billed to Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne in the war drama, A Guy Named Joe (1943). He quickly became America's favorite boy next door during the war years.
A clip from Somewhere I'll Find You was used in a later MGM production, The Stratton Story (1949). James Stewart romances June Allyson in a movie theater where the Gable-Turner flick is playing, prompting an annoyed patron behind them to say, "Hey, you're good but they're better!"
Director: Wesley Ruggles
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay: Marguerite Roberts, Walter Reisch, Charles Hoffman
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Editing: Frank E. Hull
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Bronislau Kaper
Cast: Clark Gable (Jonny Davis), Lana Turner (Paula Lane), Robert Sterling (Kirk Davis), Reginald Owen (Willie Manning), Lee Patrick (Eve Manning).
BW-108m. Closed captioning.
by Rob Nixon