Old Movie Teams

Weren’t they also in that other movie?

Clark Gable & Spencer Tracy

Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy in San Francisco

Because the two were such good friends and because their individual, let alone combined, screen presence rarely failed to pack the theaters, it is difficult to understand why Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable were not brought together in more than just three feature-length films: San Francisco (1936), Test Pilot (1938), and Boom Town (1940).

Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy in Test Pilot

In any event, the three movies in which these two did appear together shared more than just powerful box-office appeal; these movies shared a portrayal of a sometimes friendly, a sometimes hostile rivalry that invariably existed between the characters Mr. Gable and Mr. Spencer played. Whether it be between the priest and hoodlum/nightclub owner of San Francisco or the pilot and co-pilot of Test Pilot or the Big John and Square John wildcatters in Boom Town, in each instance, there’s a conflict between the two (always about a woman, a way of living, and a way of making a living). There’s also resolution and reconciliation, also always with the woman, the way of living, and the way of making a living.

Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable in Boom Town

4 Comments»

  Pauline Patin wrote @

I have seen all 3 movies….many times and am so glad Spencer & Gable were friends in real life. How awesome to think of them as friends in heaven together. WOW!

  Old Movies Forever! wrote @

I enjoyed all three movies. You are correct it is a shame these two Hollywood greats didn’t team up for more movies. But i guess maybe the studios saw them as better box office apart or maybe the right script for their fourth team-up was never presented to them for consideration. Like in real life, in Hollywood times passes and things planned don’t always get done as we would like. Now we can only surmise. I hate to always say which movie i prefer; as i really like them all; but if you really, really had to know – it would be Boom Town. I really loved it! Your blog has reminded me it is time to watch it again! Thank you

  Nicholas Vastis wrote @

So great an impact that these pairings made that I was convinced that they had made many more movies together

  Nick wrote @

Seems like I heard somewhere that Gable was the bigger star and Tracy took second billing. After the third movie, Tracy was big enough to rate equal billing and Gable balked at any further pairings.


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