This week’s mystery movie was the 1956 film “The King and Four Queens,” with Clark Gable, Eleanor Parker, Jean Willes, Barbara Nichols, Sara Shane, Roy Roberts, Arthur Shields and Jay C. Flippen. Also starring Jo Van Fleet.
Photographed in CinemaScope, color by DeLuxe, editorial supervision by Louis R. Loeffler, screenplay by Margaret Fitts and Richard Alan Simmons, based on a story by Margaret Fitts, music composed and conducted by Alex North, photographed by Lucien Ballard.
Production designer Wiard Ihnen, production manager Joseph G. Behm, assistant director Tom Connors Jr., film editor Howard Bretherton, sound by Jack Solomon, sound effects by Bill Naylor, orchestrations by Hershy Kay, costume design by Renie, men’s wardrobe by Oscar Rodriguez, ladies’ wardrobe by Marjorie Henderson.
Music editor Robert Tracy, makeup Don Roberson and Frank Prehoda, hairstylists Kay Shea and Helene Parrish, set decorator Victor A. Gangelin, master property man William Sittel.
Russ-Field Corp. Gabco Productions, a joint venture.
Executive producer Robert Waterfield. Produced by David Hempstead. Directed by Raoul Walsh.
“The King and Four Queens” is available on DVD and Blu-ray from TCM.com.
This is a curious movie I selected entirely by chance. “The King and Four Queens” (originally titled “Last Man on Wagon Mound”) was produced by Russ-Field, a partnership between Jane Russell and her husband, Bob Waterfield, and Gable’s production company, Gabco. News accounts said that Russell was originally cast in the picture, as was Jayne Mansfield, who couldn’t get a release from the Broadway production of “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” Gable was reportedly involved in all aspects of the film, selecting the shooting location of St. George, Utah, and supposedly changing the end. Eleanor Parker was loaned from MGM.
Writing in the New York Times (Dec. 22, 1956), Bosley Crowther did not approve of such goings-on.
Clark Gable may still be regarded as the “king” of Hollywood stars, but he won’t be for long if he continues to appear in pictures such as “The King and Four Queens.” This Russ-Field-Gabco production, which came to the Mayfair yesterday, is the sort of synthetic Western nonsense that can tear an actor’s reputation to shreds.
A better title for it might be “The Cat and Four Mice,” since it has to do with a prowling fellow playing a cunning game with four dames. Mr. Gable is the fellow who rides into a Western ghost town inhabited by the widows of four bandits (and the mother of the latter). They are supposed to have a pile of boodle stashed away. Mr. Gable hopes to get the boodle.
Thus the greater part of the picture is taken up with his padding among the dames, blinking his eyes, smoothing his whiskers and trying to worm a little information out of each, in turn. This is a very tedious business, mainly because the dames are depressingly dull and Mr. Gable is not overendowed with nerve.
This one is in CinemaScope and color and was directed by Raoul Walsh. It certainly represents a dreary comedown for Hollywood royalty.
For Monday, we have a mystery gent. His companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness.
Update: This is Jay C. Flippen and Clark Gable.
For Tuesday, we have an especially mysterious gent. He is so mysterious that IMDB doesn’t list him in the cast.
This fellow is unidentified. Howard Mandelbaum suggests Richard Hale. Let the record show that his character’s name is Claude and he gets a fair amount of dialogue and screen time.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Monday’s mystery bartender), Michael Ryerson (Monday’s mystery bartender), David Inman (Monday’s mystery bartender), Gary Martin (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery bartender and screencap from the mystery scene!), Mary Mallory (Monday’s mystery bartender), Benito (Monday’s mystery bartender), B.J. Merholz (Monday’s mystery bartender), Patrick (Monday’s mystery bartender), Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery bartender and man cropped out for insufficient mysteriousness), Sarah (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bartender) and Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bartender).
For Wednesday, we have a mystery sheriff and his posse of mysterians. They are suspicious of such goings-on.
Update: This is Roy Roberts.
Brain Trust roll call: Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bartender), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and a suggestion of Tuesday’s mystery grizzled desert coot) and L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast).
For “aha Thursday,” we have mystery woman No. 1….
Update: This is Eleanor Parker.
… mystery woman No. 2…
Update: This is Sara Shane.
… mystery woman No. 3….
Update: This is Barbara Nichols.
… and mystery woman No. 4.
Update: This is Jean Willes.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Monday’s gent lacking sufficient mysteriousness, and Wednesday’s mystery sheriff), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery sheriff and member of the mystery posse), David Inman (mystery movie, mystery sheriff and mystery cast), Suzanne Stone (Monday’s mystery bartender and the location of his earthly remains), Patrick (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery sheriff) and Sylvia E. (mystery sheriff).
For Friday, we have a mystery woman who does not approve of such goings-on. Also one of the least mysterious guests in Daily Mirror history.
Update: This is Clark Gable and Jo Van Fleet, who specialized in playing older women. She is all of 41 in this image.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery women), Tucson Barbara (Thursday’s mystery women), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery women), Gary (Wednesday’s mystery sheriff and his current proximity to the crypt of Marilyn Monroe, and Thursday’s mystery women), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s mystery sheriff), Benito (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery women) and Sylvia E. (Thursday’s mystery women).