Gable and Lombard (1976)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature]  |   Run Time - 131 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

Gable and Lombard was one of the most reviled films of the mid-'70s, and with good reason: it's horrible. Like most Hollywood "biopics," it plays extremely fast and loose with the facts; that's to be expected, but unfortunately the filmmakers haven't replaced the truth with anything resembling entertainment, insight, characterization, or invention. Instead, the audience is treated to hoary clich├ęs, trite dialogue, and cardboard characters given the names "Clark Gable" and "Carole Lombard," even though the characters onscreen possess none of the personality that those names imply. True, James Brolin certainly tries to provide all of the tics and mannerisms that are associated with Gable, but the result is grotesque -- and that's before even considering the actor's attempted approximation of Gable's voice and speaking style. If Jill Clayburgh comes off slightly better, it's only because Lombard's personality was not as large as Gable's and therefore doesn't allow Clayburgh to so easily fall into the trap of parody. Neither of these fine actors has a good moment; the best that can be said is that there are a few stretches where they keep from embarrassing themselves. Of course, no one could be expected to do better with Barry Sandler's inept screenplay or under Sidney J. Furie's non-direction. Gable and Lombard does have a certain fascination, as one watches it wondering how a film can be so bad, but even that allure quickly fades out long before the film itself does.