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Red Dust

Red Dust(1932)

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Although Harold Rosson is given sole onscreen credit for the photography of the film, production charts in Hollywood Filmograph and Hollywood Reporter only credit Arthur Edeson. According to contemporary news items and advance production charts, Jacques Feyder was initially set to direct Red Dust and John Gilbert was to star opposite Jean Harlow. Feyder's last American film before returning to his native France was M-G-M's Son of India, released in 1931. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection in the AMPAS Library, some territories objected to parts of the film; however, most censor boards approved it for exhibition. In a letter from Hays Office representative Col. Jason Joy to M-G-M executive William Orr, dated October 12, 1932, Joy stated "The sex element has, on the whole, we believe, been handled extremely well." News items and some reviews pointed out the sexuality in the picture. In his review of the picture in Life, Harry Evans noted, "Red Dust (the last word is wrong by one letter) is an elemental treatment of the most frequently discussed human frailty. I thought it was pretty awful, and I believe it will make money. (And the censors appear to have learned this lesson about sex: you can legislate against it, but you can't make it unpopular.") Variety noted that the picture had been banned in Berlin, having been "deemed too hot for Nazified Germany."
       On September 5, 1932, during a Labor Day weekend hiatus from the film's production, Harlow's second husband, M-G-M producer Paul Bern, committed suicide, just two months after the couple had married. The circumstances of Bern's death were the subject of many news stories at the time and have been the topic of widespread speculation in modern sources as well. According to a Film Daily news item, Bern's butler first notified M-G-M production chief Irving Thalberg of Bern's death, then called M-G-M executive producer David O. Selznick. Although Harlow was absent from filming for ten days, scenes were shot around her and the picture's production was not interrupted. Photographer Harold Rosson became Harlow's third husband in September 1933. They were divorced in 1934. Red Dust was re-made by director John Ford in 1953 under the title Mogambo, again starring Gable, but set in Africa and co-starring Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner. The 1940 M-G-M film Congo Maisie, directed by H. C. Potter and starring Ann Sothern, is frequently called a remake of Red Dust in modern sources. Although there are similaries between the two films, Congo Maisie was based on another Wilson Collison novel, Congo Landing. The 1933 M-G-M picture Bombshell, which starred Jean Harlow, includes a scene in which Harlow's character, "a movie star," is filming a "bathtub" scene similar to the one in Red Dust in which the actress is bathing in a rain barrel.