Easiest Way, The (1931): Conway’s Pre-Code Melodrama, Featuring Gable in Second Sound Film

Directed by Jack Conway, The Easiest Way is a Pre-Code melodrama, featuring Clark Gable in a secondary role, billed below Constance Bennett, Adolphe Menjou, Robert Montgomery, and Marjorie Rambeau.

The tale is adapted from the 1909 play of the same name written by Eugene Walter and directed by David Belasco.

Growing up in a poor working-class family, Laura (Constance Bennett) works hard to support her family. Laura’s father, Ben (J. Farrell MacDonald) encourages his other daughter Peg (Anita Page) to marry a hard-working man named Nick (Clark Gable). Laura rejects a marriage proposal from the boy-next-door to become involved with William Brockton (Adolphe Menjou) an older wealthy man.

Gable’s role as the affable, hard-working laundryman Nick was his second credited role in a talkie, released three weeks after The Painted Desert.

Gable’s supporting roles in these early talkies demonstrated his potentially wide range. In The Easiest Way, Gable’s good-natured man runs counter to the darker guy he portrays as Rance Brett, the rugged, villainous cowboy in The Painted Desert.

It was his performance as the outlaw Rance that made an impression on studio executives and earned Gable a contract with MGM.