Movies Clark Gable Almost Passed On

Even the great Clark Gable had doubts about his ability to pull off certain roles.

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Originally published October 5, 1957

It Happened One Night:

I’d been told, “Report to Frank Capra,” so I reported to him.

“I’d like to talk to you about our story,” Capra said, and I said, “I don’t want to talk to you about it. Just give me the script. I’ll read it. Then I’ll talk to you.”

Frank is a nice guy, and he was tolerant of my attitude, which, to put it mildly, wasn’t good. I took home the script of It Happened One Night and I read it. I had a couple of drinks and thought, It can’t be that good. I’d better look at it later. So I had dinner and read it again. It was still good. The next morning I called.

Frank and said, “I want to apologize for my behavior yesterday. I was rude and I had no reason to be. You’ve got a fine script. Why you’ve chosen me to be in it I don’t know.”

Clark Gable in Mutiny on the Bounty

Mutiny on the Bounty:

I didn’t want to be in it, because it was a story about a crew of Englishmen, and since I obviously wasn’t English, I felt badly miscast. I told everybody who’d listen, “I stink in it.” I didn’t realize I was wrong for several months [until] I got a cablegram from producer Irving Thalberg. “The movie is wonderful. We’re proud of it. You’ll like yourself in it.”

Gone with the Wind:

That novel was one of the all-time bestsellers. People didn’t just read the book; they lived it. They visualized its characters, and they formed passionate convictions about them in their minds. All of them had already played Rhett in their minds. Suppose I don’t come up with what they already had me doing? Then I’m in trouble. If they saw one thing I did that didn’t agree with their remembrance of the book, they’d howl. [But] the night we opened in Atlanta, I said, “I guess this movie is in.”

—“I Call on Clark Gable” by Peter Martin,
October 5, 1957

Read the entire article ‘I Call on Clark Gable’ by Pete Martin from the October 5, 1957 issue of The Post

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