Plot: Babe (Clark Gable) is a card shark with some serious skills, which he puts to use fleecing wealthy marks in high stakes games, but when word of his tactics get out, he gains some unwanted attention. The police are wise to his schemes and he has to go on the run until things cool down, so he heads out to a small town in the middle of nowhere, Glendale. He chose the town at random, but he is surprised to see his new destination seems just as driven by gambling as his last. No sooner does he arrive than he crosses paths with librarian Connie (Carole Lombard), who is busting at the seams to escape her small town lifestyle. Babe tries to lure her in with his charms, but she is able to fend him off and of course, that stokes his fires even more. As the two engage each other, the banter runs hot and while he tries to seduce her, she tries to make an honest man out of him first.
Entertainment Value: This pre-code romp has a passable narrative, but is raised above that thanks to a terrific cast. The story works well enough, but just doesn’t have much spark and the tone is a little uneven, unsure whether to focus on humor, drama, crime, or romance in the process. As a result, we have a pre-code potpourri and as I said, the cast is able to take all the ingredients and make it all work, at least better than it should at first blush. Even with all these elements in play, the movie clocks in at under 90 minutes, so it keeps a nice pace and doesn’t wind up drawn out. I do like the card shark angle and the banter between the leads is what I think carries No Man of Her Own, as the man on the run thread and such don’t leave much of an impression. I don’t mean to seem harsh, as the entire movie is brisk and solid, I just wish the rest of the film was at the same level as the dynamic between Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. If that were the case, this would be a pre-code classic and even as it stands, it is a well made movie. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in pre-code cinema and the leads, as Gable and Lombard shine.
In case you didn’t read the rest of the review, the main draw here is the chemistry between Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. The two would eventually marry and it isn’t hard to see why, as the two burn up the screen here and have some real heat in almost every shared scene. I love good banter and these leads serve it up consistently here, with a razor sharp back & forth that flows through the entire movie. I will admit, the writing isn’t always up to par with how well the lines are performed, but they elevate the material a good deal. I especially like Lombard’s Connie, who is grounded, smart, and more than able to keep pace with Gable’s charms. And she displays plenty of charm of her own, sometimes upstaging her costar in that department, but both are on point and a lot of fun to watch here. I’m always happy to see Dorothy Mackaill turn up as well, though her role in this one is on the smaller side. Even so, she is a welcome sight and adds a good supporting effort to the mix. The cast also includes Grant Mitchell, Elizabeth Patterson, and George Barbier.
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