Hucksters, The (1947) B-
The film version of Frederick Wakeman’s novel “The Hucksters,” a topical satirical chronicle of Madison Avenue, starred Clark Gable and introduced Deborah Kerr as a Hollywood actress.
Gable plays Victor (Vic) Albee Norman, a radio advertising executive just returned from World War II. His wartime experiences have made him both critical and cynical of his profession. Nonetheless, he takes a job with the biggest agency in town, headed by Kimberly (Adolphe Menjou).
At Kimberly’s recommendation, Vic takes over the Beautee Soap account, which forces him to interact with the boorish headman Evans (Sidney Greenstreet). At their first meeting, Evans unexpectedly spits on his highly polished conference table. He then sums up his philosophy on advertising, “You have just seen me do a disgusting thing. But you will always remember it!” Evans’ character was reportedly based on George Washington Hill, the crude, aggressive president of the American Tobacco Company.
Vic’s first assignment for Evans is to gather 25 high-society women for testimonials for Beautee Soap. The least cooperative of the group is a young and elegant widow, Mrs. Dorrance (Deborah Kerr, in her American film debut), stepdaughter of an American war hero. Attracted to Vic, Mrs. Dorrance signs the agreement, but breaks off her personal relationship with him, when he’s making unsolicited advances towards her.
Evans then insists that Vic sign up two-bit comedian Buddy Hare (Keenan Wynn) for a radio program. Getting more corrupt, Vic obtains Hare’s service at a low price by blackmailing the comedian’s agent (Edward Arnold), Vic’s onetime close friend. A demo record is made of Hare and of nightclub singer Jean Ogilvie (Ava Gardner), who is in love with Vic but gives him up because of his lack of scruples.
Returning to the Beautee Soap headquarters, Vic watches Evans smashes the demo record–then laughs uproariously, telling Vic that the contract is his, along with a $25,000 bonus. By this time, Vic is so disgusted with Evans’ childish tactics that he tells off the soap mogul, ending his tirade by dousing Evans with a pitcher of water.
Having regained his moral and professional integrity, Vic seeks the love of the worthy Mrs. Dorrance, who forgives his earlier misdeeds. As the film ends, she encourages Vic to use his advertising talents for “something clean and honest.”
To mollify Madison Avenue, screenwriter Davis toned down the attack on advertisers to a single radio sponsor. And to please Gable, Mrs. Dorrance was changed from a married woman to a widow, while Vic is transformed from a “huckster” to an idealist.
“The Hucksters” is one of Clark Gable’s most popular post-WWII films, with over $4 million and ranking ninth in the year’s top-grosser, thus reaffirming the King’s popularity for another decade or so.
Running Time: 115 Minutes.
Directed by Jack Conway.
Screenplay: Frederic Wakeman, Edward Chodorov, George Wells, Luther Davis.
Released: July 18, 1947.
DVD: November 28, 1990
Leave a Reply
- Fast & Furious 6: Vehicular Warfare:
- Fast & Furious 6: The Newcomers
- Fast & Furious 6: Thrilling Joyride
- Angelina Jolie Double Mastectomy–Talk of Cannes Film Fest
- Bling Ring, The
- Before Midnight: Hawke and Delpie at Mid-Age
- Stories We Tell
- Great Gatsby: Luhrmann’s Jazzy Spectacle
- Star Trek into Darkness: Solid Sequel
- Love Is All You Need: From Denmark Via Italy
- Kiss of the Damned: Oversexed Vampires