Mogambo (1953)

Genres - Adventure, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Adventure  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The stars (and the scenery) are the thing in Mogambo, John Ford's somewhat lackluster remake of Red Dust. Forget about the script; it's not terrible, by any means, but it's also not particularly good, with dialogue that's incredibly uneven. More problematically, the romance and the adventure don't quite come together here, making the film feel as if it's two separate movies occupying one space; the love triangle wins out, but it's a bit of a struggle. Ford seems to want to emphasize the Hemingway-esque aspects of the situation, but the female stars are just too strong. They're almost too strong for Clark Gable, and that's saying a lot. Perhaps because he was getting a bit long in the tooth by the time of Mogambo, Gable has to struggle to hold his own -- but he does manage to pull it off. Truth to tell, even the gorgeous and icily enticing Grace Kelly has to struggle, for the sexily alluring Ava Gardner threatens to walk off with the entire picture. It's arguably Gardner's finest performance, certainly one of her most enjoyable, and she plays her role for all it's worth. This forces Kelly to work all the harder, the competition between the two actresses transferring quite effectively to the characters they play. It's a delight watching this trio interact with each other, and the sparks they generate make up for Mogambo's shortcomings.