The second film that had Clark Gable and Joan Crawford together didn't start out that way. Laughing Sinners started out with Johnny Mack Brown as the Salvation Army Worker who saves Crawford and the film was completed when Louis B. Mayer saw the film and said reshoot it with Gable. This was after having seen them together in Dance Fools Dance where Gable was a villain and had only a couple of scenes with Crawford. This is according to Joan herself in a tribute she wrote in the Citadel Film Series Book, The Films of Clark Gable.
Crawford is definitely in her element as singer/dancer and good time Prohibition party girl who falls for the charms of Neil Hamilton, a traveling salesman. You know what a bunch of party animals they are, just ask Arthur Miller. Anyway Hamilton decides though he thinks Joan's great in the hay, he wants to marry the boss's daughter and does, leaving her flat and despondent.
One night as she's ready to throw herself off a bridge, Salvation Army worker Clark Gable stops her. She likes him, but still has a yen for Hamilton and he, her.
Given Clark Gable's later image the casting of him as a Salvation Army worker is ludicrous. Mayer knew that and during the course of the film he gives him a nice prison background before he joined Edwin Booth's Army. The only way Gable could possibly fit the part. Anyway Mayer did it for the obvious chemistry between Gable and Crawford.
It's more Joan's picture than his though. Later on her talents as a dancer which brought her to film in the first place would be not seen at all. So Laughing Sinners is a treat in that way.
The film is based on a Broadway play Torch Song which ran for 87 performances the year before and starred Mayo Methot, Reed Brown, and Russell Hicks in the parts that Crawford, Hamilton, and Gable have. Coming over from the Broadway cast is Guy Kibbee in the role of another salesman, the only one to repeat his role from Broadway. Roscoe Karns and Cliff Edwards play another pair of salesmen and Marjorie Rambeau is Crawford's party girl friend.
Russell Hicks is definitely more my idea of a Salvation Army worker, but Gable's more my idea of a leading man opposite Joan Crawford.
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