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Hucksters
     

The Hucksters

Director: Jack Conway

Cast: Edward Arnold, Clark Gable, Lillian Bronson

 
When he was first offered the film version of the best-selling Frederick Wakeman novel The Hucksters, Clark Gable turned it down, characterizing the book as "filthy and not entertainment." He finally agreed to star in the film after screenwriter Luther Davis' extensive laundering job. Gable plays Vic Norman, a radio advertising executive just returned from

Overview

When he was first offered the film version of the best-selling Frederick Wakeman novel The Hucksters, Clark Gable turned it down, characterizing the book as "filthy and not entertainment." He finally agreed to star in the film after screenwriter Luther Davis' extensive laundering job. Gable plays Vic Norman, a radio advertising executive just returned from World War II. His wartime experiences have soured him on the phony aspects of his profession; nonetheless, he takes a job with the biggest and phoniest agency in town, headed by the glad-handing Kimberly (Adolphe Menjou). At Kimberly's recommendation, Vic takes over the Beautee Soap account, which brings him in close quarter's with Beautee's boorish head man Evans (Sidney Greenstreet). At their first meeting, Evans unexpectedly spits on his highly polished conference table. "Gentlemen," he growls, summing up his philosophy on advertising, "You have just seen me do a disgusting thing. But you will always remember it!" (Evans was based on George Washington Hill, the colorfully crude president of the American Tobacco Company). Vic's first assignment for Evans is to round up 25 high society women to sign testimonials for Beautee Soap. The least cooperative of the bunch is young widow Mrs. Dorrance (Deborah Kerr, in her American film debut), the stepdaughter of an American war hero. Attracted to Vic, Mrs. Dorrance signs the agreement, but breaks off her personal relationship with Vic when it appears as though he's making unsolicited advances towards her. The ever-demanding Evans then insists that Vic sign up two-bit comedian Buddy Hare (Keenan Wynn) for a radio program. Becoming more and more corrupt with each passing day, Vic obtains Hare's service at a rock-bottom price by blackmailing the comedian's agent (Edward Arnold), Vic's onetime close friend. A demo record is made of Hare and of nightclub singer Jean Ogilvie (Ava Gardner), who is in love with Vic but who eventually gives him up because of his apparent lack of scruples. Returning to the Beautee Soap headquarters, Vic watches dumbstruck as Evans smashes the demo record--then laughs uproariously, telling Vic that the contract is his, along with a $25,000 bonus. By this time, Vic is so disgusted with himself and with Evans' childish baiting tactics that he tells off the soap mogul in no uncertain terms, ending his tirade by dousing Evans with a pitcher of water. Having regained his integrity, Vic is now worthy of the love of Mrs. Dorrance, who has forgiven him his earlier misdeeds. As the film ends, she encourages Vic to use his advertising talents for something clean and honest (and, undoubtedly, starve to death in the process!) To mollify Madison Avenue, screenwriter Davis narrowed the attack on advertisers to one single radio sponsor; to please Gable, Mrs. Dorrance was changed from a still-married woman to a widow, while Vic Rodman is transformed from a "huckster" to an idealist who Does the Right Thing at the end. The Hucksters is one of Clark Gable's best postwar films, as well as one of the finest Hollywood satires of the rarefied world of advertising.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Although The Hucksters softens the Frederick Wakeman novel that is its source, it's still a fairly cynical look at the dog-eat-dog world of advertising, especially for the time in which it was created. The softening does do some damage, especially at the end; but paradoxically, the ending confrontation between Clark Gable and Sydney Greenstreet is so dramatically powerful that it works. Hucksters blends it drama and its comedy very well, and the darkness of its humor is surprising. Jack Conway directs briskly and efficiently, keeping all the balls in the air and keeping the story moving forward with maximum effectiveness. But it's Gable's film, by virtue of the fact that he is almost never offscreen, and he handles the role with all the strength, vitality and charisma one expects of "The King." But despite Gable's sterling work, Greenstreet walks away with the "most memorable" acting honors, portraying another of his truly horrible men that audiences relish even as they're repulsed by him. Deborah Kerr, in her first American starring role, displays her unique blend of gracious class and troubled soul, and Ava Gardner is impressive as a seductive singer. Keenan Wynn is first rate as a third rate clown, and Adolphe Menjou is practically perfect as an agency executive living in a pressure-filled world.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/09/2011
UPC:
0883316350997
Original Release:
1947
Source:
Warner Archives
Sales rank:
13,784

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Edward Arnold Dave Lash
Clark Gable Victor Albee Norman
Lillian Bronson Miss Hammer
Deborah Kerr Kay Dorrance
Ralph Bunker Allison
Sydney Greenstreet Evan Llewellyn Evans
Kathryn Card Regina Kennedy
Adolphe Menjou Mr. Kimberly
Jimmy Conlin Blake
Ava Gardner Jean Ogilvie
Virginia Dale Kimberly Receptionist
Keenan Wynn Buddy Hare
Douglas Fowley Georgie Gaver
Richard Gaines Cooke
Connie Gilchrist Betty
Gloria Holden Mrs. Kimberly
Vera Marshe Secretary
Aubrey Mather Valet
Clinton Sundberg Michael Michaelson
Richard Abbott Elevator Starter
Almeda Fowler Woman in Elevator
Tiny Jones Flower Woman
Byron Morgan Radio Soundman
Joan Valerie Receptionist
Frank Albertson Max Herman
William Benedict Bellboy
Edwin Cooper Harry Spooner
Mahlon Hamilton Businessman
John Hiestand Radio Announcer
Sammy McKim Western Union messenger
Anne Nagel Teletypist
Robert E. O'Connor Doorman
George O'Hanlon Freddie Callahan
Jack Rice Clerk
Gordon Richards Kimberly Butler
Ransom Sherman George Rockton
Florence Stephens Secretary
Tom Stevenson Paul Evans
Marie Windsor Girl
Chief Yowlachie Indian
Harry V. Cheshire Joe Lorrison
Fred E. Sherman Cabbie

Technical Credits
Jack Conway Director
Edward Chodorov Screenwriter
Luther Davis Screenwriter
Jack Dawn Makeup
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Special Effects
Lennie Hayton Score Composer
Arthur Hornblow Producer
Urie McCleary Art Director
Jack D. Moore Set Decoration/Design
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Buddy Pepper Songwriter
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Frank Sullivan Editor
George Wells Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

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