Homecoming (1948): Romantic Melodrama, Starring Gable and Lana Turner

The third of the four films Clark Gable and Lana Turner made together, Homecoming is a romantic melodrama set in World War II.

Gable plays Ulysses Johnson, an American surgeon coming back from World War II.  Sitting on a boat, he is asked by a reporter about his experiences during the war.

In a flashback, Johnson tells his story, beginning in 1941. Johnson is the chief surgeon at a hospital, going out of his way to be emotionally detached from his patients.  Duting a cocktail party with his wife Penny (Anne Baxter), a colleague, Dr. Robert Sunday (John Hodiak), accuses Johnson of being unsentimental and undeeling, joining the Army out of selfish motives.

Johnson then boards a transport ship, where he meets and befriends Lt. Jane “Snapshot” McCall (Lana Turner) a young widow.  The couple find out that a friend of Johnson’s, Sergeant Monkevickz (Cameron Mitchell), is dying from amalaria-ruptured spleen. Johnson remembers that Dr. Sunday had mentioned to him the Chester Village. Johnson tells Snapshot that he had treated Monkevicks, but without much care.

Penny confesses to Sunday that she is jealous of Snapshot, whom Johnson has mentioned in letters, as she believes that they are romantically involved.

Indeed, when Snapshot is reassigned to a different outfit, she and Johnson part with a kiss.  When they meet again in Paris, they fall back in love, but leave to rescue the 299th division in the Battle of the Bulge.

The story goes back to Johnson returning home after the war as a world-weary man. He returns to Penny, a ghost of his former self. He apologizes to Dr. Sunday for not heeding his warnings about the malaria in Chester Village and confesses to Penny his love for Snapshot, but tells her that Snapshot had died of a wound.

Homecoming was the third film that MGM chose for Gable after his return from service, and he lends a more poignant performance than his previous norm. Lana Turner, in a deglamorized mode, also renders a warm and genuine performance.

As noted, the served as the third Gable-Turner pairing, which had proved successful in their first film together, Honky Tonk, and the follow-up, Somewhere I’ll Find You, in 1942. They would follow Homecoming with  Betrayed, which would be Gable’s last performance at MGM.

Anne Baxter was married to John Hodiak at the time.

The film was a big hit, earning $3.7 million in the U.S. and $1.9 million in foreign countries, resulting in a profit of over $1 million.

Clark Gable as Col. Ulysses Delby “Lee” Johnson
Lana Turner as Lt. Jane “Snapshot” McCall
Anne Baxter as Penny Johnson
John Hodiak as Dr. Robert Sunday
Ray Collins as Lt. Col. Avery Silver
Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Kirby
Cameron Mitchell as Sgt. Monkevickz
Marshall Thompson as Sgt. McKeen
Lureen Tuttle as Miss Stoker