No Man of Her Own (1932)
One of Hollywood’s most iconic off-screen couples only worked together on screen once, and though they made a terrific team, this wasn’t the start of their love story. In fact, during the shoot, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard weren’t particularly impressed with each other. She found him conceited, while he found her bawdy language unladylike. At the wrap party, he gifted her with a pair of ballet slippers and a note calling her a prima donna. She gave him a ham with his picture on it.
None of that shows through in the film, of course. Gable stars as a crooked gambler who flees to a small town when things get too hot for him in New York City. There, he romances librarian Lombard, who gets him to marry her by suggesting he toss a coin. Back in the big city, he tries to hide his crooked activities from her, at first because she gives him a respectable cover but later because he’s truly fallen in love. How long can he keep his real life a secret?
Their teaming came about because MGM star Marion Davies wanted to borrow Bing Crosby from Paramount to costar in Going Hollywood (1933), and convinced Louis B. Mayer to lend out Gable in exchange. With his pick of properties, Gable chose No Man of Her Own—which had been planned for George Raft—and since his contract stipulated that he receive top billing, the film also lost its intended leading lady, Miriam Hopkins. The up-and-comer Lombard campaigned for the role, knowing a film with MGM’s fastest-rising male star would help her career. It would be another four years, however, before a flirtation at a Hollywood party would turn them into an inseparable couple.
d. Wesley Ruggles, 82 minutes, 35mm
Courtesy of Universal Pictures