Forsaking All Others (1934): Van Dyke’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable

W.S. Van Dyke’s Forsaking All Others, the sixth of eight collaborations of Joan Crawford (who gets star billing) and Clark Gable, was popular at the box-office.

Forsaking All Others

Theatrical release poster

The screenplay of this romantic serio-comedy was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (before he became a director), based upon a play by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett starring Tallulah Bankhead. The original play, which opened in New York on March 1, 1933, ran for 110 performances.

The script originally was intended for Loretta Young, George Brent, and Joel McCrea, but MGM decided to turn it into a Joan Crawford vehicle.

In this comedy of errors, three friends of long standing are involved in a love triangle that lasts for years.

Jeff Williams (Clark Gable) has been in love with Mary Clay (Joan Crawford) since childhood.

Returning from Madrid, he plans to propose her firsthand, but there’s one obstacle, she is about to marry Dillon ‘Dill’ Todd (Robert Montgomery) the next day. The three had been friends, but only the butler knew of Jeff’s feelings.

However, Dill doesn’t show up to the altar, The night before the wedding, he ran off and married Connie Barnes (Frances Drake), a woman with whom he had had an affair in Europe. Unfazed, Mary quickly gets out of her wedding dress.

In the end, when the butler, Shep (Charles Butterworth), tells her the cornflowers sent to her last wedding were from Jeff and not Dill, Mary realizes she loves Jeff instead. She breaks off her marriage with Dill and joins Jeff on the boat.

Crawford worked on 9 films with Mankiewicz, who understood her appeal to working-class women, who identified with her.

A budget of $392,000 made Forsaking All Others an expensive MGM production. However, with foreign revenue of $800,000, MGM earned a profit of $1,132,000, which made the movie Crawford’s most financially successful feature to date.

Joan Crawford – Mary Clay
Clark Gable – Jeff Williams
Robert Montgomery – Dillon ‘Dill’ Todd
Charles Butterworth – Shep
Billie Burke – Aunt Paula
Frances Drake – Connie Barnes Todd
Rosalind Russell – Eleanor


Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Produced by Bernard H. Hyman
Written by Joseph Mankiewicz (screenplay), based on Forsaking All Others 1933 play
by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett
Music by William Axt
Cinematography Gregg Toland, George J. Folsey
Edited by Tom Held
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: December 23, 1934

Running time: 83 minutes
Budget $420,069
Box office $2,199,000