Red Dust


1h 19m 1932
Red Dust

Brief Synopsis

A plantation overseer in Indochina is torn between a married woman and a lady of the evening.

Photos & Videos

Red Dust - Lobby Cards
Red Dust - Jean Harlow Publicity Stills
Red Dust - Scene Stills

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 22, 1932
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Red Dust by Wilson Collison (New York, 2 Jan 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Dennis Carson has lived in Indochina all his life, only leaving his rubber plantation for an occasional fling in Saigon. His new surveyor, Gary Willis, and his wife Barbara arrive just as Vantine, a prostitute who has been lying low at the plantation is leaving. Vantine is in love with Dennis, whom she calls "Fred," but he only thinks of her as a pleasant diversion. Dennis is annoyed that Gary has brought his wife. Barbara is shocked and contemptuous of Dennis until he nurses Gary back to health after an attack of malaria. Soon Vantine returns to the plantation because her boat has been damaged, and Dennis, who is now in love with Barbara, tries to protect her from what he regards as Vantine's unsavory character. One day, after they have been caught in the rain, Dennis and Barbara become lovers. Vantine knows, as does everyone except Gary, who is sent "down river" by Dennis to survey the plantation. Barbara and Dennis want to marry, but Dennis realizes he must tell Gary. He travels to the survey site to do so, but when he realizes how much Gary loves and depends on Barbara, Dennis cannot break up their marriage. He rides all night to get home and starts drinking with Vantine when he arrives. When Barbara interrupts them, Dennis pretends to be a cad and she shoots him. Just then Gary arrives, worried about Barbara and Dennis after hearing some gossip about them from one of the men. Barbara is too upset to talk, but Vantine convinces him that Barbara was merely defending her honor against Dennis. Vantine nurses Dennis back to health, and when she reads an item in the newspaper to him about the Willis' return to America, he has recovered sufficiently to appreciate her charms.

Photo Collections

Red Dust - Lobby Cards
Here are a few lobby cards from MGM's Red Dust (1932), starring Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Red Dust - Jean Harlow Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos of Jean Harlow, taken to publicize Red Dust (1932).
Red Dust - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from MGM's Red Dust (1932), starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 22, 1932
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Red Dust by Wilson Collison (New York, 2 Jan 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Red Dust


The second of six films Jean Harlow and Clark Gable appeared in together, Red Dust (1932) demonstrated once and for all the potent sexual chemistry these two MGM stars generated when they were teamed on the screen. Gable plays Dennis Carson, a rough-and-tumble rubber plantation overseer in Indochina and Harlow is cast as Vantine, a prostitute on the run who is offered shelter by Gable until the next boat to civilization. At first Carson is indifferent to Vantine's charms but eventually a mutual attraction develops between them which is soon complicated by the arrival of engineer Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) and his attractive wife, Barbara (Mary Astor).

Red Dust was based on a play by Wilson Collison that had originally been purchased as a possible film vehicle for John Gilbert. Although the former matinee idol was still under contract to MGM and in need of a hit, the studio brass decided to cast Gable in the role instead, believing Gable and Harlow a better match than Gilbert and Harlow. At the last minute, they replaced French director Jacques Feyder with Victor Fleming but other than that, production proceeded smoothly until a major scandal threatened to shut down production. Jean Harlow's husband, MGM executive Paul Bern, committed suicide midway through filming (some biographies suggest he was murdered and the studio covered it up) and MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, fearing a scandal, appealed to Tallulah Bankhead to step into Harlow's role. She refused out of respect for Harlow and the blonde bombshell was soon back on the set, though considerably subdued. During her first day back at work, Fleming reportedly said to Mary Astor, "how are we going to get a sexy performance with that look in her eyes?" But Harlow proved herself the ultimate trooper, turning in a delightful performance. When Time Magazine covered the film, the reviewer wrote: "The best lines go to Harlow. She bathes hilariously in a rain barrel and reads Gable a bedtime story about a chipmunk and a rabbit. ("Say I wonder how this comes out?" her character wisecracks). Her effortless vulgarity, humor, and slovenliness make a noteworthy characterization, as good in the genre as the late Jeanne Eagels' Sadie Thompson."

Surprisingly, Red Dust avoided any censorship problems with the Hays Office, despite the carnal relationship between Carson and Vantine or the passionate kissing scene between Carson and Barbara during a rainstorm. The latter, in fact, was particularly difficult to film because of the intense heat on the set. The hot lights would instantly vaporize the water on the actors' clothes and produce a mist effect that was NOT what the cameramen wanted. To avoid this, prop man Harry Edwards would heat water in a teapot and then pour it on the actors prior to filming.

Co-star Gene Raymond agreed it was a difficult picture to shoot and said, "...the whole thing was done at MGM. Stage 6 was now a jungle with a hut in it, and it stank to high heaven. The rain would seep in and all of a sudden you had mud. Then they put the hot lights on and it steamed up. So it was not a pleasant picture; it was hard for everybody, especially the crew." Regardless of the hardships, Red Dust was a hit and would later inspire a remake - Mogambo (1954) - directed by John Ford and with Gable repeating his original role opposite Ava Gardner (in the Harlow part) and Grace Kelly (in the Astor role).

A final bit of trivia: Jean Harlow would later marry Harold "Hal" Rosson, the cinematographer on Red Dust.

Producer: Victor Fleming, Hunt Stromberg
Director: Victor Fleming
Screenplay: Wilson Collison (play), John Lee Mahin (as John Mahin), Donald Ogden Stewart (uncredited)
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Costume Design: Adrian
Film Editing: Blanche Sewell
Principal Cast: Clark Gable (Dennis Carson), Jean Harlow (Vantine), Gene Raymond (Gary Willis), Mary Astor (Barbara Willis), Donald Crisp (Guidon).
BW-83m. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

Red Dust

Red Dust

The second of six films Jean Harlow and Clark Gable appeared in together, Red Dust (1932) demonstrated once and for all the potent sexual chemistry these two MGM stars generated when they were teamed on the screen. Gable plays Dennis Carson, a rough-and-tumble rubber plantation overseer in Indochina and Harlow is cast as Vantine, a prostitute on the run who is offered shelter by Gable until the next boat to civilization. At first Carson is indifferent to Vantine's charms but eventually a mutual attraction develops between them which is soon complicated by the arrival of engineer Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) and his attractive wife, Barbara (Mary Astor). Red Dust was based on a play by Wilson Collison that had originally been purchased as a possible film vehicle for John Gilbert. Although the former matinee idol was still under contract to MGM and in need of a hit, the studio brass decided to cast Gable in the role instead, believing Gable and Harlow a better match than Gilbert and Harlow. At the last minute, they replaced French director Jacques Feyder with Victor Fleming but other than that, production proceeded smoothly until a major scandal threatened to shut down production. Jean Harlow's husband, MGM executive Paul Bern, committed suicide midway through filming (some biographies suggest he was murdered and the studio covered it up) and MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, fearing a scandal, appealed to Tallulah Bankhead to step into Harlow's role. She refused out of respect for Harlow and the blonde bombshell was soon back on the set, though considerably subdued. During her first day back at work, Fleming reportedly said to Mary Astor, "how are we going to get a sexy performance with that look in her eyes?" But Harlow proved herself the ultimate trooper, turning in a delightful performance. When Time Magazine covered the film, the reviewer wrote: "The best lines go to Harlow. She bathes hilariously in a rain barrel and reads Gable a bedtime story about a chipmunk and a rabbit. ("Say I wonder how this comes out?" her character wisecracks). Her effortless vulgarity, humor, and slovenliness make a noteworthy characterization, as good in the genre as the late Jeanne Eagels' Sadie Thompson." Surprisingly, Red Dust avoided any censorship problems with the Hays Office, despite the carnal relationship between Carson and Vantine or the passionate kissing scene between Carson and Barbara during a rainstorm. The latter, in fact, was particularly difficult to film because of the intense heat on the set. The hot lights would instantly vaporize the water on the actors' clothes and produce a mist effect that was NOT what the cameramen wanted. To avoid this, prop man Harry Edwards would heat water in a teapot and then pour it on the actors prior to filming. Co-star Gene Raymond agreed it was a difficult picture to shoot and said, "...the whole thing was done at MGM. Stage 6 was now a jungle with a hut in it, and it stank to high heaven. The rain would seep in and all of a sudden you had mud. Then they put the hot lights on and it steamed up. So it was not a pleasant picture; it was hard for everybody, especially the crew." Regardless of the hardships, Red Dust was a hit and would later inspire a remake - Mogambo (1954) - directed by John Ford and with Gable repeating his original role opposite Ava Gardner (in the Harlow part) and Grace Kelly (in the Astor role). A final bit of trivia: Jean Harlow would later marry Harold "Hal" Rosson, the cinematographer on Red Dust. Producer: Victor Fleming, Hunt Stromberg Director: Victor Fleming Screenplay: Wilson Collison (play), John Lee Mahin (as John Mahin), Donald Ogden Stewart (uncredited) Cinematography: Harold Rosson Costume Design: Adrian Film Editing: Blanche Sewell Principal Cast: Clark Gable (Dennis Carson), Jean Harlow (Vantine), Gene Raymond (Gary Willis), Mary Astor (Barbara Willis), Donald Crisp (Guidon). BW-83m. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

You can check the wings and halo at the desk.
- Vantine
I'll be right up.
- Dennis Morgan
If it was the summer of 1894, I'd play games with you, sister. But life is much simpler now.
- McQuarg
That's a...a very polished little speech for a...barbarian.
- Barbara Willis
All right. If that makes you feel any better.
- Dennis Carson
What you been eatin', cement?
- Vantine

Trivia

Clark Gable also starred in the 1953 remake Mogambo (1953).

Jean Harlow's famous rain-barrel bath is recreated in her film Bombshell.

Jean Harlow's husband of two months, producer Paul Bern, committed suicide during the Labor Day break in the production. Although she was absent for 10 days following his death, scenes were shot around her and the movie was completed on schedule.

The original play first opened in New York on 2 January 1928.

During filming of the famous rainbarrel sequence, Jean Harlow reportedly stood up - topless - and called out something along the lines of "one for the boys in the lab!" Director Victor Fleming quickly removed the film from the camera to prevent any footage from reaching the black market.

After the suicide of her husband Paul Bern, which occurred during filming, most of Jean Harlow's scenes were re-shot, with higher neck-lines on her dresses.

Notes

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.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1932

Released in United States March 1977

Released in United States 1932

Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Double Vision-Two different classics made from the same story) March 9-27, 1977.)