Cast & Crew
After witnessing the Victory Day festivities in Moscow's Red Square, American reporter Philip Sutherland attends a command performance of Swan Lake by the Bolshoi Ballet with his friend, broadcast journalist Steve Quillan. Backstage, Philip gazes at ballerina Marya Lamarkina, whom he has tried unsuccessfully to court for two years. To his surprise, Marya reveals that she has been learning English so she could declare her love for Philip, and expresses a desire to marry him and return to San Francisco with him. The next day, Philip and Marya call on the U.S. ambassador, who warns them that Marya may have trouble obtaining an exit visa. Although they have no guarantee that they will be together beyond the remaining six months of Philip's assignment, the lovers are married in the American Embassy. While honeymooning in the Baltic resort town of Tallin, they meet Englishman Christopher Wellington St. John Denny, who is married to Marya's friend, Svetlana Mikhailovna. Christopher relates that he met his wife when she translated for him at a state banquet during the war, and says he plans to take her to his home in Cornwall once her exit visa comes through. However, when Christopher is apprehended by Soviet security agents for taking photographs on the beach, he is expelled from Russia, and the pregnant Svetlana's visa application is denied. Philip and Marya look after Svetlana, who gives birth to a son in their apartment. Philip soon learns that he will be transferred out of the country in the wake of heightening Cold War tensions, and dedicates himself to securing Marya's visa. At the airport, however, Marya is detained by the police after Philip has already boarded the plane, and he is forced to return to America without her. Philip tries in vain to be reassigned to Moscow but is banned by Russian authorities. After his sympathetic editor, John Barnes, gives him an assignment in London, Philip visits Christopher, who gives him some letters from Marya that Steve had smuggled out of the country. Determined to rescue their wives, Philip buys a Dutch sailing boat and proposes to Christopher that they sail to Tallin, where the Bolshoi will be touring. Christopher declines, saying that he is willing to risk his own life but not his child's. Under the tutelage of boat man Joe Brooks, Philip devotes all his energy to learning how to be a sailor, and Joe offers to accompany him on the voyage. On the day they are to depart, Christopher comes to the dock ready to join them, having recently learned that his son has died of a fever. The three men set sail, stopping in Stockholm to meet with Steve, who agrees to pass messages to the women and devises a code by which he will communicate with Philip through his radio broadcasts. They continue their voyage, and when the Tallin coastline is in sight, Philip and Christopher row out in a dinghy to meet their wives, as arranged through Steve. Only Svetlana swims out to meet them, however, explaining that the Bolshoi added a special performance that night, and Marya is still at the theater. Philip instructs Christopher to take Svetlana back to the boat and have Joe return in the dinghy in three hours. Philip then swims ashore, steals a uniform from a medical corps officer and goes to the theater. After calling Marya backstage, Philip sits in the audience and watches yearningly as his wife dances the lead role in Swan Lake . While taking her bows, Marya faints, and Philip is brought backstage to examine her. He carries her out of the theater, but as they drive away, dancer Valentina Alexandrovna identifies the "doctor" as Philip, and the officers pursue them. Philip speeds toward the bay and drives the car off the end of the pier. He and Marya quietly swim out to the dinghy, and embrace passionately as Joe rows them to safety.
The London Festival Ballet Company
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
A. W. Watkins
Never Let Me Go
Prior to filming Never Let Me Go, Gable set sail for Europe several weeks early for a holiday in Paris. There he met and romanced a model named Suzanne Dadolle. The affair would continue during the filming of Never Let Me Go with Gable escaping the English filming location for Paris on numerous weekends. Another diversion while shooting Never Let Me Go was Gable's preparation for the upcoming Mogambo (1953). He'd read the script (a remake of the 1932 Gable-Harlow film Red Dust) while in Paris, and forgoing his usual post-picture vacation, would go directly to Africa to shoot Mogambo when Never Let Me Go wrapped. So between shoots on Never Let Me Go Gable was being fitted for his Mogambo costumes.
Gable handpicked Daves to direct Never Let Me Go. The two knew each other but had never worked together. According to Daves, Gable apologized for asking him to work on such "a crummy story." The actor explained that he needed to do the movie because he was still in debt from taxes on wife Carole Lombard's estate. There was also the recent (and rather costly) divorce from wife number four, Sylvia Ashley. The working relationship between Daves and Gable had a father-son dynamic, according to the director (in Long Live the King: A Biography of Clark Gable by Lyn Tornabene). "I never had a conflict with him of any kind. He was more like my son in the relationship; more son than friend." But Daves also remembers that Gable "needed a great deal of reassurance about work. He would constantly refer to his stage background. It was - I don't know - his security blanket."
On location for Never Let Me Go, Daves describes a highly gregarious Gable, "who could communicate beautifully We shot some scenes in Cornwall where they didn't know who Gable was. But he would sit down and ask some fellow how he built his boat, whether he started with the keel or a total design. Cornishmen talk up hill and down hill, so Clark would would talk up hill and down hill." He also hated to be alone. When Gable was given a private cottage in Cornwall he found it too quiet. He couldn't sleep and traded his cottage for Daves' room at the inn. Another Gable story told by Daves involves a brand new Jaguar. Apparently Gable had ordered a custom Jaguar that he planned to ship home to the States. One day, his shiny, new toy arrived on set. Despite the fact that stars in that day were not allowed to drive themselves, Daves sensed Gable's eagerness for a test drive, called a lunch break and went with Gable for a ride. Of this trip around the block, Daves jokingly commented, "..I got in that car and for the next hour Clark and I took every curve in Cornwall - Vroooom, vroooom. He was a kid. That was the real joy of Clark, that he was a child, and a man."
Gable made a strong impression on co-star Gene Tierney as well. The two dined out one evening in Cornwall and she recalled (in Gable's Women by Jane Ellen Wayne) that "he told me how much he loved and missed Carole Lombard..He and I laughed about our beginnings in Hollywood. We both had physical drawbacks that might have kept us off the screen - my teeth and his ears...He was a thoughtful man. My feet were blistered from extensive ballet lessons [for the film], and he remembered to bring back some salve from Paris that helped a lot."
Tierney, unlike some of Gable's co-stars did not pursue a relationship with him - she was romantically involved with Prince Aly Khan at the time - writing in her autobiography, Self-Portrait: "I had no romantic interest in Gable. I considered him an older man" but he definitely charmed her: "I saw him as sweet and gentle, a hard crust with a soft center. I thought that quality was what came across on the screen and made him adored by so many." Tierney was later offered a part opposite Gable in Mogambo but declined, not wanting to be away from her daughter (with ex-husband Oleg Cassini) for such an extended period. The role went to Grace Kelly instead who, ironically enough, was dating Tierney's ex-husband at the time.
Producer: Clarence Brown
Director: Delmer Daves
Screenplay: George Froeschel, Ronald Millar, Roger Bax (novel)
Cinematography: Robert Krasker
Film Editing: Frank Clarke
Art Direction: Alfred Junge
Music: Hans May
Cast: Clark Gable (Philip Sutherland), Gene Tierney (Marva Lamarkins), Bernard Miles (Joe Brooks), Richard Haydn (Christoper Denny), Belita (Valentina Alexandrovna), Kenneth More (Steve Quillan).
by Stephanie Thames
Never Let Me Go
The working title of this film was Two If by Sea. The film begins with voice-over narration spoken by the character "Philip Sutherland" as stock footage of the Victory Day parade in Moscow is shown. According to a October 2, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Gig Young was originally cast as Clark Gable's co-star, and March and May 1952 items in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column name both Cyd Charisse and Shelley Winters as candidates for the role of "Marya Lamarkina." A July 29, 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Stephen Longnecker in the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Richard Haydn and Anna Valentina, who portrayed a husband and wife in the film, were married in real life. Never Let Me Go was their first American film together.
In addition to filming at London's Elstree Studios, some scenes in the picture were shot on location in Cornwall, England. The following excerpt from The Book of Common Prayer is recited in the film: "They that go down to the sea in ships: and occupy their business in great waters; These men see the works of the Lord: and His wonders in the deep." According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Never Let Me Go was banned in India, presumably "in keeping with the government's avowed policy of enforcing rigid censorship on all films with an anti-Soviet or anti-Communist theme." In her autobiography, Gene Tierney stated that Russian ballerina Natalie Leslie doubled for her in the long shots.