The King and Four Queens

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THE KING and FOUR QUEENS plays with self-aware tongue-in-cheek from the title on, as ‘the King’ is Clark Gable, legendarily dubbed ‘The King of Hollywood’. In this mildly entertaining 1956 western, the ‘queens’ are played by Eleanor Parker (sharp cookie), Barbara Nichols (ditzy blonde), Jean Willes (hot ‘n’ nasty) and Sara Shane (goodie 2-shoes). They’re the man-deprived stepdaughters of Jo Van Fleet, her dang sons all long-absent bank robbers. A fortune in gold is stashed on their lonesome dove’y ranch and roguish cowpoke Clark tries to charm out its whereabouts.

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Since it’s lightweight fare, the billing tells you who he’ll end up with. Gable has little to do but stroll through manfully, furrowing his brow in like fashion. Van Fleet gets the meaty acting job, cussedly lording it over her restless brood of she-critters.

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Nice color comes across in Lucien Ballard’s camera, covering locations around St. George in southern Utah. Alex North’s music score is fairly lively, but the yakking, tracking, whacking and shacking is diffidently handled by director Raoul Walsh, in the second of three period pieces with the star. The first, The Tall Men, was a big hit, the last, Band Of Angels, was a major thud: this falls plum mid-range.

Watchable for its 86 minutes, at 37th place for the year it grossed around $6,400,000. With Roy Roberts, Jay C. Flippen and Arthur Shields.

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