Parnell (film)

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Parnell
Poster of Parnell (film).jpg
Directed by John M. Stahl
Produced by John M. Stahl
Written by John Van Druten
Starring Clark Gable
Myrna Loy
Edna May Oliver
Edmund Gwenn
Alan Marshal
Donald Crisp
Billie Burke
Music by Dr. William Axt
Cinematography Karl Freund
Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith
Production
company
Release date
  • June 4, 1937 (1937-06-04)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,527,000[1]
Box office $1,576,000[1]

Parnell is a 1937 biographical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, starring Clark Gable as Charles Stewart Parnell, the famous Irish politician. It was Gable's least successful film and is generally considered his worst, and it is listed in The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. The movie addresses the sex scandal that destroyed Parnell's political career, but its treatment of the subject is highly sanitized (and fictionalized) in keeping with Hollywood content restrictions at the time.

Plot

The life of Irish politician and Home Rule activist, Charles Stewart Parnell.

Production

Parnell had originally been cast to star Gable and his frequent co-star Joan Crawford. Myrna Loy, meanwhile, was to star in The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer flipped the assignments as Crawford did not want to do another costume picture after 1936's The Gorgeous Hussy. She also did not get along with director John Stahl. Another issue came with the beard that the real Charles Parnell wore. Fans balked at the idea of Gable wearing a beard; and Gable, whose limit in facial hair was his mustache, agreed. It was settled upon that Gable would only have a set of sideburns. As filming began, Gable felt very uneasy with his role, either unable or unwilling to portray the sensitive nature required to capture the character. Loy later recalled, "I learned about another side of him at that time. He was a man who loved poetry and fine literature, read it, and knew it. He would read poetry to me sometimes during breaks, but he didn't want anyone to know it.[2]" One of the many concerns that Gable had about this production was the acting that would be required of him to play out a believable death scene. During the filming of the death scene, Stahl put on mood music to help the actors get into character. Gable loathed the music and complained to Carole Lombard. The next day, when Stahl called for the music to be turned on, a jazzy version of "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You", went floating throughout the studio.[3]

Cast

Reception

According to MGM records Parnell earned $992,000 in the US and Canada and $584,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $637,000.[1]

It has been labeled the worst film in both Gable and Loy's long and successful film careers. Loy said of the film later, "Disgruntled fans wrote to the studio by the thousands — they did that in those days. Some of the critics complained that we played against type. We were actors, for God's sake. We couldn't be Blackie Norton and Nora Charles all the time."[4]

Following Parnell, Gable vowed never to do a costume drama or biopic again. Its failure made Gable fearful of doing Gone with the Wind, but he was persuaded otherwise, and ultimately went on to his greatest success with his role as Rhett Butler.

References

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Parnell (1937) Articles
  3. ^ Parnell (1937) Trivia
  4. ^ TCM - Parnell

External links

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