Old Movie Teams

Weren’t they also in that other movie?

Myrna Loy & Clark Gable

Clark Gable and Myrna Loy with Jean Harlow in Wife vs. Secretary

The pairing of Clark Gable and Myrna Loy on the big screen seems to have had the effect of a magnet that invariably drew others to it. Not only were audiences drawn to theaters to see these two in action, but other actors seemed drawn to join the duet, thereby expanding and enhancing the team. While the first film that Ms. Loy and Mr. Gable graced with their combined presence should perhaps be excluded from a list of collaborations (for it was the 1925 silent production of Ben-Hur: Tale of the Christ and employed the two as extras far removed from one another in their scenes), their work in this movie is in a sense very much a part of a team, a much larger team than just themselves, a mob, in fact, a mob of extras that also included Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, and Carole Lombard; and movie audiences, in the habit of blinking now and then, should expect the entire experience of watching this movie, even again and again, will pass without any glimpse of any of these soon-to-be Hollywood icons.

But that was in the silent era and in a time when these actors’ careers were still in their nascent stages. With the coming of talkies and the rising of these movie extras to the level of screen idols and stars, the public had quite an easy time of spotting them and a rather enjoyable one at that. In the case of Myrna Loy and Clark Gable’s collaborations, the public was treated to seven more films (all talkies). As with the silent Ben-Hur, this magnetic duo seemed to have embraced, even celebrated, a practice of teaming with more than just themselves. William Powell, Walter Pidgeon, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, the Barrymores (both John and Lionel), Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery, and Jean Hersholt, among others, contributed their unique personas to flesh out and expand upon the collaborative efforts of Clark Gable and Myrna Loy. Here’s a list of those efforts:

Ben-Hur: Tale of the Christ (1925)
Night Flight (1933)
Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
Men In White (1934)
Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
Parnell (1937)
Too Hot To Handle (1938)
Test Pilot (1938)

In a rather ironic fashion, there is one other, perhaps infamous headliner, who should be mentioned for his magnetic collaboration in the history surrounding, not the making, but the showing of just one of these films, i.e. Manhattan Melodrama. It was in the alley just outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater, on July 22, 1934, as the gangster John Dillinger was leaving the show, that the notorious bank robber and public enemy number one was shot and killed by F.B.I. agents. He was a big fan of Myrna Loy, so big, in fact, that it did him absolutely no good. But it did wonders at the box office for the picture. Coincidentally, the picture is about a hoodlum (Clark Gable) who similarly can’t get away with murder though he, too, has a fancy for Myrna Loy.

Clark Gable and Myran Loy in Manhattan Melodrama

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