No Man of Her Own: Romantic Comedy with Gable and Lombard in their Only Film Together

Wesley Ruggles’s light, carefree romantic comedy, “No Man of Her Own,” is the only film Clark Gable made with Carole Lombard, who he later married; Lombard died in an airplane accident in 1942.

Gable plays Babe Stewart, a big-time card shark, who takes it on the lam in a small Midwestern town until the heat of a recent job cools off.

On a bet with Vargas (Paul Ellis), one of his accomplices Stewart marries the town’s beauty, Connie Randall (Lombard). As expected, he soon finds out that he not only won his bet but that he’s in love with Connie.

Taking his bride to New York City, Stewart discovers that there is a lot about him that wife Connie doesn’t knowand he wants to keep it that way. He covers up his gambling and gets rid of most of his girlfriends.

Then, under the guise of a South American business trip, Stewart spends 90 days in jail. Finally, Connie catches on to the whole scheme, when Kay Everly (Dorothy Mackaill), one of her husband’s discarded mistresses, tells her what Stewart is really like.

When Stewart returns, Connie pretends to give him a bad time, but realizing that he did the whole thing to protect her, she goads him into explaining everything so that she can fully appreciate him and enjoy a more honest marriage.

Based on a screenplay from Maurine Watkins and Milton H. Gropper, from a story by Edmund Goulding and Benjamin Glazer, the film benefits from some wisecracks and Ruggles’s smooth direction.

There’s good chemistry, and in moments even a sparkle, between Gable, who could play this role in his sleep, and Lombard, who looks lovely. Impudently confident and sexually potent, Gable, on his way to major stardom, imbues his role with his natural screen charisma. As usual, the skillful Lombard projects glamour and sophisticated intelligence, which become all the more apparent when she is contrasted with her hubby’s former mistresses

This comedy features the notorious scene of Carole Lombard on a ladder, a scandalous image that created problems with the Hollywood’s League of Decency, but the movie was made less than two years before the creation of censorship in the form of the Production Code.

Credits

Released December 31, 1932

Running time: 85 minutes

Director Alert

Also known as an actor (he appeared in some Chaplin short films), Wesley Ruggles is the brother of Charles Ruggles. As a director, Ruggles had an uneven career, whose highlights included “Silk Stockings” in 1927 and “Cimarron,” for which he was Oscar nominated as director and which won the 1931 Best Picture Oscar. He retired from the screen in 1946, after making two dozen films.