|Ava Gardner in "Mogambo" (1953)|
Ava Gardner literally lightened up the screen in the movie "Mogambo" back in the 1950s. Not just because of the obvious wonders of Technicolor, but because of her presence. Her spirit.
She even got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as Eloise Y. "Honey Bear" Kelly.
She's so very fresh and sassy in that role - it's wonderfully hilarious! As other bloggers also have remarked, she really saves the movie which - let's face it - isn't much writing home about. It's actually a remake of "Red Dust" (1932) - also starring Clark Gable in lead role. Only at that time replacing the dewey-eyed, uptight wife with Mary Astor and the sassy, shameless ..well, prostitute (this fact was rather understated in the remake given it was the '50s, of course) with marvelous Jean Harlow. Clark's 20 years younger, thus more agile and vigorous - and his chemistry with Jean Harlow is probably one of the best ever seen on screen (in my opinion), and I can fully recommend it. Ava does most of the chemistry alone in this version, I confess, but I forgive Clark. It's hard enough being squeezed between two wenches more than once in your lifetime ... ;)
I feel I must praise Grace Kelly too for her performance as the "happily" married Linda Nordley and a likewise well-deserved nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Like her predecessor she plays the part as snivelling, irritating damsel in distress well (although I hate such characters) - luckily making lots of space for her counterpart aka. Ava to interfere with her sharp-witted remarks, great comedic timing and passionate manners.
Because it is hard to take your eyes off Ava's obvious beauty and spark when she steals scene after scene (notice especially her cute interactions with the animals) and definitely makes it worth giving the film a shot.
Furthermore, Ava is quoted to have said of her role as Honey Bear Kelly in "Mogambo":
"As far as my career as an actress went, Mogambo was probably as close to a pinnacle as anything I’ve done. For someone with my naturally irreverent temperament, playing a sassy, tough-talking playgirl who whistles at men, drinks whiskey straight from the bottle, and says about wine, ‘any year, any model, they all bring out my better nature’ was a gift from the gods. I never felt more comfortable in a part before or since, and I was even allowed to improvise some of my dialogue.”
A small gossip PS: It was rumoured that Grace and Clark had an affair off-screen too, which I always thought a bit ironic. I couldn't quite fathom Clark would take her instead of Ava, whom I thought was much more fun, hot-blooded and desirable! Oh, well, maybe he just couldn't tame Ava as well as Grace... Not to mention, the latter notably was said to have a thing for older men in the first place and that they always fell for her... ;P