Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. Two of the hottest people who ever lived. Add to that the earthy beauty of Mary Astor and you got yourself one steamy picture!
Dennis Carson (Gable), the owner of the rubber plantation where the movie takes place, meets a wise-cracking, sassy prostitute named Vantine (Harlow). He quickly dismisses her but after a while, he finds himself in her arms. He loses interest, however, when Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) and his wife Barbara (Astor) arrive at the plantation. Dennis becomes smitten with Barbara, who, in turn, doesn’t seem to mind his advances. And so begins the love triangle between Dennis, Barbara and Vantine.
Directed by Victor Fleming and written by John Mahin, based on the play by Wilson Collison, Red Dust is one of the most iconic Pre-Code films. And that’s due to Jean Harlow, who, in my opinion, is the star of the film. With her enormous presence, confidence and easy-going attitude, she commands your attention and your eyes are on her the whole time. You can’t help it, she is just so darn attractive in every way! That famous rain-barrel scene could only work with her. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, YouTube it.
I have to say that Red Dust reminds me a little of Rain (1932). Similar plot, similar characters, and like Rain, Red Dust is one of those Pre-Code pictures with a conscience. It’s not just sex and innuendo. There are moral undertones in it that will make you think. However, there are also elements that will inevitably make you uncomfortable, but hey, it’s the Pre-Code era, you have to expect that kind of thing.
Nevertheless, Red Dust is a great movie. It’s a shame it’s not as famous as the 1953 remake Mogambo. Personally, I love them both equally. In fact, since I love marathons and double bills so much, I might watch them both back to back one of these days.