Movies of clark gable: Clark Gable Movies: 12 Greatest Films Ranked Worst to Best

Clark Gable Movies: 12 Greatest Films Ranked Worst to Best

  • Zach Laws, Chris Beachum
  • Film


Clark Gable is the Oscar-winning matinee idol who starred in dozens of films before his untimely death in 1960, but how many of those titles are classics? Let’s take a look back at 12 of Gable’s greatest movies, ranked worst to best.

After appearing in bit parts in a number of films, Gable shot to stardom with his performance in “A Free Soul” (1931) as a gangster who bewitches a young woman (Norma Shearer) whose attorney father (Lionel Barrymore) helped him beat a murder rap. From there forward, the actor’s persona as a raffish leading man who’s every guy’s best friend and every gal’s dream became cemented in a number of subsequent roles.

He won an Oscar just three years later for Frank Capra‘s screwball classic “It Happened One Night” (1934), in which he played a newspaper reporter traveling with a spoiled socialite (Claudette Colbert). The film became the first to sweep the five major Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay), a feat only repeated by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991).

His next bid came for “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1935), a high seas adventure about an uprising against a tyrannical British Navy captain (Charles Laughton). Made before the introduction of the supporting categories in 1936, the film holds the record for most Best Actor nominations with three (Gable, Laughton, and Franchot Tone as a fellow seaman). All three lost to Victor McLaglen (“The Informer”), and “Mutiny” walked away with a lone Best Picture win.

Gable’s third and final nomination came for what is undoubtedly his most iconic role: the dashing Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind” (1939). His rebuttal to pampered Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) — “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” — remains the most memorable line in movie history. The box office behemoth swept the Oscars, winning eight prizes including Best Picture and Best Actress for Leigh. Sadly, Gable was overlooked for Robert Donat (“Goodbye, Mr. Chips”).

Tour our gallery of Gable’s 12 greatest films, and see if your favorite made the cut.

  • 12. A FREE SOUL (1931)

    Image Credit: MGM/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Clarence Brown. Written by John Meehan and Becky Gardiner, based on the novel by Adela Rogers St. Johns. Starring Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore, James Gleason, Lucy Beaumont.

    “A Free Soul” launched Gable from bit player to leading man and won Lionel Barrymore a Best Actor Oscar, but it’s not much talked about today. Directed by Clarence Brown, it centers on an alcoholic attorney (Barrymore) who successfully defends a corrupt gangster (Gable) against a murder charge, only to have his free-spirited daughter (Norma Shearer) fall in love with him. Creaky and melodramatic by today’s standards, the film is an interesting Pre-Code examination of the link between sex and violence.

  • 11. CALL OF THE WILD (1935)

    Image Credit: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by William A. Wellman. Screenplay by Gene Fowler and Leonard Praskins, based on the novel by Jack London. Starring Loretta Young, Jack Oakie, Reginald Owen, Frank Conroy.

    Jack London’s oft-adapted adventure yarn has never been more exciting than in this 1935 William A. Wellman version. Gable takes on the iconic role of Jack Thornton, a rugged traveler who purchases a dog to lead him towards buried treasure during the Klondike Gold Rush. He soon reconsiders his decision after meeting a beautiful widow (Loretta Young). Jack Oakie is best in show as Gable’s partner, who spent time in prison for reading other people’s mail.

  • 10. TEACHER’S PET (1958)

    Image Credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by George Seaton. Written by Fay Kanin and Michael Kanin. Starring Doris Day, Gig Young, Mamie Van Doren, Nick Adams.

    Gable teamed up with Doris Day for this charming romantic comedy about the love that can blossom from deception. “Teachers Pet” centers on a veteran newspaper reporter (Gable) who poses as a night school student so he can humiliate a journalism teacher (Day) who mocked him. Yet he soon finds himself falling in love with his instructor. Gig Young earned a Supporting Actor nomination for playing a worldly psychologist who might be the newsman’s main competition for love. Gable earned a Golden Globe bid, but was ignored by the Academy.

  • 9. TEST PILOT (1938)

    Image Credit: Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Victor Fleming. Screenplay by Vincent Lawrence and Waldemar Young, story by Frank Wead. Starring Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore.

    This rousing adventure from Victor Fleming casts Gable as a daredevil test pilot whose drinking endangers his life. When he’s forced to land on a farm in Kansas, he falls in love with the farmer’s daughter (Myrna Loy) and decides to reform his ways. Yet the thrill of danger (and booze) are too great to avoid, much to the dismay of his wife and best friend (Spencer Tracy), an airplane mechanic. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Story (written by former Navy pilot Frank Wead), and Best Film Editing.

  • 8. RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP (1958)

    Image Credit: United Artists/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Robert Wise. Screenplay by John Gay, based on the novel by Edward L. Beach, Jr. Starring Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden, Don Rickles.

    Gable squares off with Burt Lancaster in this tense submarine drama, a sort of “Crimson Tide” for classic movie fans. During WWII, a U.S. sub commander (Gable) becomes obsessed with sinking an enemy Japanese ship, butting heads with his first officer (Lancaster) and the other sailors (including Jack Warden and Don Rickles). Director Robert Wise does an expert job building suspense within a confined space, but it’s the performances by Gable and Lancaster that really put you on the edge of your seat.

  • 7. RED DUST (1932)

    Image Credit: Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Victor Fleming. Screenplay by John Mahin, based on the play by Wilson Collison. Starring Jean Harlow, Mary Astor, Gene Raymond, Donald Crisp.

    In Victor Fleming’s “Red Dust,” Gable stars as the crusty overseer of a French Indochina rubber plantation. He soon enters into a love triangle with a beautiful prostitute (Jean Harlow) and the wife (Mary Astor) of a new engineer (Gene Raymond). Made in the days before the Production Code took all the sex out of movies, this is hot, trashy fun. Gable later remade the film as “Mogambo” (1953), directed by John Ford and starring Ava Gardener in the Harlow role and Grace Kelly in the Astor one.

  • 6. SAN FRANCISCO (1936)

    Image Credit: Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Screenplay by Anita Loos, story by Robert E. Hopkins. Starring Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy, Jack Holt, Jessie Ralph, Ted Healy.

    “San Francisco” is the type of big budget, star-studded spectacle MGM excelled at in its heyday. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, the film centers on a Barnaby Coast saloonkeeper (Gable), a talented yet impoverished singer (Jeanette MacDonald), a kindly priest (Spencer Tracy), and a Nob Hill socialite (Jack Holt) whose lives are interrupted by the devastating 1906 earthquake. It’s hard to imagine “Titanic” without this one setting the stage for melodramas set against the tragedies of history. The film won an Oscar for its sound and received five other nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Tracy.

  • 5. MOGAMBO (1953)

    Image Credit: Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by John Ford. Screenplay by John Lee Mahin, based on the play ‘Red Dust’ by Wilson Collison. Starring Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Donald Sinden, Philip Stainton, Eric Pohlmann, Laurence Naismith, Denis O’Dea.

    Gable remade his 1932 adventure yarn “Red Dust”, reprising his role as a raffish safari hunter who starts an affair with a socialite (Ava Gardner) and an anthropologist’s unfaithful wife (Grace Kelly). Whereas the previous version was filmed on the MGM backlot, director John Ford insisted on location shooting in Africa in glorious Technicolor, giving this reimagining an extra bit of scope and authenticity. Gardner and Kelly earned Oscar nominations in lead and supporting, respectively, though Gable was ignored.

  • 4. THE MISFITS (1961)

    Image Credit: United Artists/Seven Arts/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by John Huston. Written by Arthur Miller. Starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach.

    John Huston’s “The Misfits” occupies a sad place in cinema history due to the fate of its three stars: Gable died before it’s release, Marilyn Monroe shortly thereafter, while Montgomery Clift would make only three more movies before his own untimely demise in 1966. Written by Monroe’s then-husband, Arthur Miller, it revolves around a beautiful divorcee (Monroe) in love with a past-his-prime cowboy (Gable) who, along with his partners (Clift and Eli Wallach), grinds up “misfit” horses into dog food. A flop in its time, the film has found a second life as a minor masterpiece, thanks in large part to its tragic significance.

  • 3. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1936)

    Image Credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Frank Lloyd. Screenplay by Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman, Carey Wilson, based on the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. Starring Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone, Herbert Mundin, Eddie Quillan, Dudley Digges, Donald Crisp.

    Frank Lloyd’s Oscar-winning classic remains the best adaptation of Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall’s epic novel, itself based on a true story. Charles Laughton gives the performance of a lifetime as Captain Blight, the tyrannical captain of the HMS Bounty. When his cruelty towards the crew reaches its breaking point, Lieutenant Fletcher Christian (Gable) stages a mutiny. Released before the supporting categories were introduced in 1936, the film holds the record for the most Lead Actor nominations with three (Gable, Laughton, and Franchot Tone as midshipman Roger Byam). All three split the vote, swinging the prize to Victor McLaglen (“The Informer”). In fact, the only award it won was Best Picture.


    Image Credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Frank Capra. Screenplay by Robert Riskin, based on the short story ‘Night Bus’ by Samuel Hopkins Adams. Starring Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Jameson Thomas, Alan Hale, Arthur Hoyt, Blanche Friderici, Charles C. Wilson.

    Gable won the Best Actor Oscar on his first try for Frank Capra’s screwball classic. “It Happened One Night” centers on a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) who runs away from her family with a down-to-earth reporter (Gable) who’s using her for a story. The film set the gold standard for romantic comedies to come with its sparkling screenplay (by frequent Capra collaborator Robert Riskin) and charming performances by two leads with electrifying chemistry. It made history, in fact, by becoming the first movie to take home the top five Academy Awards (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenwriting), a feat that’s only been repeated by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991).

  • 1. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

    Image Credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

    Directed by Victor Fleming. Screenplay by Sidney Howard, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell. Starring Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen.

    “Gone with the Wind” holds a dubious place in film history. On the one hand, it’s a sweeping example of top-notch Hollywood filmmaking. On the other hand, it’s portrayal of the Old South as some kind of Camelot fails to acknowledge the inhumanity of slavery (though Hattie McDaniel, who made history as the first black Oscar winner, is at least granted some common sense and humanity as Mammy). Yet what makes this classic stand the test of time is the romance between the feisty Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and the dashing Rhett Butler (Gable), whose final rebuttal (“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”) remains the greatest line in movie history. The box office behemoth won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Leigh. Gable lost Best Actor, however, to Robert Donat (“Goodbye, Mr. Chips”).

Clark Gable – IMDb

  • Biography
  • Awards
  • Trivia


  • Actor
  • Producer
  • Soundtrack

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Clark Gable | Legends of the Screen

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William Clark Gable was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio, to Adeline (Hershelman) and William Henry Gable, an oil-well driller. He was of German, Irish, and Swiss-German descent. When he was seven months old, his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal aunt and uncle in Pennsylvania, where he stayed until he was two. His father then returned to take him back to Cadiz. At 16, he quit high school, went to work in an Akron, Ohio, tire factory, and decided
to become an actor after seeing the play “The Bird of Paradise”. He
toured in stock companies, worked oil fields and sold ties. On December 13, 1924, he married Josephine Dillon, his acting coach and 15 years his senior. Around that time, they moved to Hollywood, so that Clark could concentrate on his acting career. In April 1930, they divorced and a year later, he married Maria Langham (a.k.a. Maria Franklin Gable), also about 17 years older than him.

While Gable acted on stage, he became a lifelong friend of Lionel Barrymore. After several failed screen
tests (for Barrymore and Darryl F. Zanuck), Gable was signed in 1930 by MGM’s
Irving Thalberg. He had a small part in The Painted Desert (1931) with starred William Boyd. Joan Crawford asked for him as co-star in Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) and the public
loved him manhandling Norma Shearer in A Free Soul (1931) the same year. His unshaven
lovemaking with bra-less Jean Harlow in Red Dust (1932) made him MGM’s most
important star.

His acting career then flourished. At one point, he refused an assignment, and the studio
punished him by loaning him out to (at the time) low-rent Columbia
Pictures, which put him in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934), which won him an Academy Award for his performance. The next year saw a starring role in Call of the Wild (1935) with Loretta Young, with whom he had an affair (resulting in the birth of a daughter, Judy Lewis).
He returned to far more substantial roles at MGM, such as Fletcher
Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939).

After divorcing Maria Langham, in March 1939 Clark married Carole Lombard, but tragedy struck in January 1942 when the plane in which Carole and her mother were flying crashed into Table Rock Mountain, Nevada, killing them both. A grief-stricken Gable joined the US Army Air Force and was off the screen for three years, flying combat missions in Europe. When he returned the studio regarded his salary as excessive and did not renew
his contract. He freelanced, but his films didn’t do well at the box
office. He married Sylvia Ashley, the widow of Douglas Fairbanks, in 1949. Unfortunately this marriage was short-lived and they divorced in 1952. In July 1955 he married a former sweetheart, Kathleen Williams Spreckles (a.k.a. Kay Williams) and became stepfather to her two children, Joan and Adolph (“Bunker”) Spreckels III.

On November 16, 1959, Gable became a grandfather when Judy Lewis, his daughter with Loretta Young, gave birth to a daughter, Maria. In 1960, Gable’s wife Kay discovered that she was expecting their first child. In early November 1960, he had just completed filming The Misfits (1961), when he suffered a heart attack, and died later that month, on November 16, 1960. Gable was buried shortly afterwards in the shrine that he had built for Carole Lombard and her mother when they died, at Forest Lawn

In March 1961, Kay Gable gave birth to a boy, whom she named John Clark Gable after his father.

BornFebruary 1, 1901

DiedNovember 16, 1960(59)

BornFebruary 1, 1901

DiedNovember 16, 1960(59)

  • Won 1 Oscar
    • 4 wins & 5 nominations total


Known for:

It Happened One Night

Gone with the Wind

Mutiny on the Bounty

Red Dust



  • The Misfits

    • Gay Langland
  • It Started in Naples

    • Michael Hamilton
  • But Not for Me

    • Russell ‘Russ’ Ward
  • Run Silent Run Deep

    • Cmdr. ‘Rich’ Richardson
  • Teacher’s Pet

    • James Gannon
  • Band of Angels

    • Hamish Bond
  • The King and Four Queens

    • Dan Kehoe
  • The Tall Men

    • Col. Ben Allison
  • Soldier of Fortune

    • Hank Lee
  • Betrayed

    • Col. Pieter Deventer
  • Mogambo

    • Victor Marswell
  • Never Let Me Go

    • Philip Sutherland
  • Lone Star

    • Devereaux Burke
  • Callaway Went Thataway

    • Clark Gable (uncredited)
  • Across the Wide Missouri

    • Flint Mitchell


  • Combat America

    • producer (as Major Clark Gable)



Clip 1:47

Clark Gable | Legends of the Screen

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Trailer 2:48


Trailer 1:45


Trailer 2:13


Trailer 2:34


Trailer 3:02


Trailer 2:18


Trailer 2:38

DVD Trailer

Trailer 2:12

Official Trailer

Trailer 2:27

Official Trailer

Personal details

  • Alternative name
    • Major Clark Gable
  • Height
    • 6′ 1″ (1. 85 m)
  • Born
    • February 1, 1901
    • Cadiz, Ohio, USA
  • Died
    • November 16, 1960
    • Los Angeles, California, USA(coronary thrombosis)
  • Spouses

      Kay WilliamsJuly 11, 1955 – November 16, 1960 (his death, 1 child)

  • Children

      John Clark Gable

  • Parents

      William Henry Gable

  • Other works

    (3/20/39) Radio: Appeared (as “Peter Warne”) in a “Lux Radio Theatre” broadcast of “It Happened One Night”.

  • Publicity listings
    • 3 Biographical Movies
    • 20 Print Biographies
    • 24 Portrayals
    • 18 Articles
    • 6 Pictorials
    • 11 Magazine Cover Photos

Did you know

  • Nicknames
    • Gabe
    • The King
    • The King of Hollywood
    • Pa
  • Salaries

      The Misfits




      $750,000 + $58,000 for each week of overtime

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  • Clark Gable filmography, the best films starring Clark Gable

    The best films starring Clark Gable

    The first film in which Clark Gable became a leading actor – Susan Lennox: Her fall and elevation in 1931.