To Please a Lady (1950): Clarence Brown’s Racing Melodrama, Starring Gable and Stanwyck in Familiar Roles

Clarence Brown’s old fashioned race melodrama, To Please a Lady, stars Gable and Stanwyck, now mature actors, cast in stereotypical roles.

Gable plays Mike Brannon, a hard-driving car racer known for his ruthless racing.  Stanwyck is columnist Regina Ford, who decides to interview him.  She knows that a driver had been killed and that he had been blamed for the fatal crash, but she wants to be fair to Mike.  She watches the races and is horrified when another driver crashes into the wall to his death.  She writes a furious column, which results in barring Mike from the tracks.

He goes into a sideshow, performing death-defying stunts in order to earn enough to buy a full-sized racer and enter the regular races.

Meeting again, they fall in love, but they are held apart by her fear that he will kill another driver and his resentment of her lack of understanding.

At the Memorial Day Race at the Indianapolis Speedway, when an accident allows room for only one more racer to pass, Mike waves for his rival to go through while he runs out on the rough, hoping he will hold the wheel and get back on the track.  Instead, he cracks up, and ends at the hospital, with Regina is by his side.

Gable, pushing 50, is cast in the rugged, hard-boiled type of role that had originally made him popular.

The story is familiar, even tiresome, but producer-director Clarence Brown has included some thrilling race scenes, spectacular driving stunts, and rousing humor.

In their first love scene, Gable slaps Stanwyck’s face (as he had been doing for decades)–and she comes back for more.  Their romance is torrid and tempestuous, but lacks credibility.

Credits:

MGM

Produced and directed by Clarence Brown.

Original screenplay by Barre Lyndon and Marge Decker.

Photography by Harold Rosson.

Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and James Basevi.

Musical score by Bronislau Kaper.

Special effects by A. Arnold Gillespie and Warren Newcombe.

Editor: Robert J. Kern.

Release date: October 13, 1950.

Running time: 91 minutes.