Sunday, March 27, 2011

The King and Four Queens

Clark Gable stars as Dan Kehoe in this 1956 movie as a man who serendipitously learns about a hidden cache of gold and then proceeds to search for it in a town whose only inhabitants are the women who were married to the four outlaw brothers who stole it and the mother of the outlaws.

Three of the four brothers are dead and the fourth may or may not be dead. Their mother, played by Jo Van Fleet, keeps a tight rein on her daughters-in-law but the arrival of Dan shakes things up considerably. Filled with sexual innuendo and little violence, The King and Four Queens runs 86 minutes, giving Dan sufficient time to get to know each of the ladies well enough to decide whom to seduce and also to deduce where the gold is.

There are a couple connections to ASJ but no actors who were in the series appear in The King and Four Queens. The nearest town is named Touchstone, like the one in Everything Else You Can Steal; and one of the widows comments that $100,000 (the haul from the robbery) weighs a lot and would be too heavy for her to move by herself, which harks back to what Heyes tells Alice in The Legacy of Charlie O'Rourke.

 Partway through the film, Kehoe plays a song on the melodeon (a type of organ), in a scene reminiscent of Heyes playing the guitar in The Posse That Wouldn't Quit, except that in The King and Four Queens, he also ends up dancing with the women. The song, "In the Sweet By and By," is a traditional hymn and could have been sung in the time period of ASJ; a link to an instrumental version played on an organ is included below.

It's not clear if the king in The King and Four Queens refers to Dan Kehoe or to the mother of the outlaws, since she rules her household with iron-fisted absolute authority, nor is it completely clear if Kehoe is a crook or merely an opportunist. But it's always enjoyable watching Clark Gable and this movie, while not a masterpiece, is no exception.