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Red Dust

(1932 b 83')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A rubber plantation owner has an affair with the wife of an employee despite the jealousy of a stranded prostitute.

Dennis Carson (Clark Gable) runs a rubber plantation in Vietnam. He finds Vantine (Jean Harlow) in his house hiding out from the police in Saigon. As Vantine chatters on, Dennis is angry at first; but he warms up to the woman who says she is not used to sleeping at night. Dennis gives her some money as she gets on the boat that brings Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) and his wife Barbara (Mary Astor). Dennis tells Barbara to give Gary quinine for the fever. She is worried about him not having a doctor and slaps Dennis, who smiles and hopes she got it out of her system. Vantine comes back at night after the boat wrecked. Dennis sends her upstairs and tells her to dress and behave decently. Dennis treats Gary for three days until the fever breaks. Both Barbara and Gary believe they owe him much. Dennis finds Vantine in his room but declines a forehead massage. Gary goes out to work, and Dennis argues with Vantine while she is taking a bath. Dennis shows Barbara how they make rubber and explains why he doesn't allow women on the plantation. During a storm he carries her back to the house and is seen kissing her by Vantine.

Dennis sends Gary with Guidon (Donald Crisp) and McQuarg to work in the swamps for three weeks or so. Vantine tells Dennis she wants to leave, but he won't provide the coolies. After three weeks Dennis kisses Barbara and says he is going to tell Gary about them. She asks him if he loves her. Dennis learns the coolies are not working because they are afraid of a tiger. While they wait with rifles, Gary tells Dennis he would fold up without Barbara. Dennis shoots the tiger and heads back at night in the rain. Guidon tells Gary that Dennis is involved with his wife. Dennis gets home and starts drinking. Vantine joins him. Dennis tells Vantine he is noble and kisses her. As they wrestle, Barbara wakes up and tells Vantine to leave. Dennis tells Vantine he will be right up and explains to Barbara he is not "a one-woman man." Barbara shoots Dennis just before Gary comes in. Dennis explains he made a pass at Barbara, and Vantine tells Gary his wife is virtuous. Dennis tells Gary and Barbara to pack and leave. Vantine helps Dennis treat his wound. In the final scene Dennis is in bed, and Vantine reads him the news of Gary and Barbara departing for San Francisco. She reads him fairy stories, and they kiss.

The rainy season is considered a time of passion in the tropics as this story shows, though they work in the rain. Dennis goes from no women to choosing between two, complicating their lives.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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