Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Red Dust (1932)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Red Dust (1932)

In director Victor Fleming's and MGM's steamy pre-Code romance drama - remade as Mogambo (1953) set in Africa by John Ford:

  • unshaven, take-charge, coarse Indochinese rubber plantation manager Dennis 'Denny' Carson (Clark Gable) was introduced at his North Co-China Rubber Company inspecting his plantation with his overseer "Mac" McQuarg (Tully Marshall) during a dry monsoon season with frequent dust storms, with worries about production decreases
  • the ferry brought the arrival of sexy, wise-cracking Saigon prostitute-on-the-run Vantine Jefferson (Jean Harlow), who had been invited back to Denny's plantation for shelter by Denny's incompetent and drunken overseer Guidon (Donald Crisp); she asked: "Well, for the love of mud! Where am I sleeping, on a race track?"; she explained who she was: "I'm Pollyanna, the glad girl" - fleeing from Saigon until the next ferry returned in four weeks; she promised Denny: "Don't worry, big boy, I'll stay out from under foot"; she was sarcastic about her cool reception: "This place certainly reeks of hospitality and good cheer"; he adopted the nickname 'Lily' for her, and she called him 'Fred'
  • Denny was frustrated with his occupation: "Kicking a herd of crawling coolies around, fighting fever, swallowing dust one month, wading in mud the next, just so some old woman can take her hot water bottle to bed with her?"
  • Denny began to flirt with Vantine, when he pulled her into his lap: "You talk too much, but you're a cute little trick at that. Why haven't you been around before?" - the camera tracked away as he kissed her; after four weeks, she was ready to return to Saigon when the ferry arrived carrying Denny's new inexperienced surveyor-engineer Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) who was suffering from a case of malaria, unexpectedly accompanied by his upper-class, pampered wife Barbara "Babs" Willis (Mary Astor)
Love Triangle



  • Vantine was forced to remain for many more weeks when the motor shaft of the ferry boat she was on (returning to Saigon) snapped after it became stuck in the mud - setting up a love triangle between Denny and the two women at the plantation; Denny warned Vantine about misbehaving around 'Babs': "Now listen, this woman's decent. You watch your language and stop running around here half-naked...You can keep your mouth shut and keep out of the way", meanwhile, Denny nursed Gary back to health and 'Babs' was indebted to him for saving her husband's life
  • Vantine engaged in an infamous nude bath in a rain barrel scene when she refused Denny's request to lower the curtain around her for privacy: "What's the matter? Afraid I'll shock the Duchess? Don't you suppose she's ever seen a French postcard?"; when he came closer, she complained: "Gee, can't a girl take a bath in privacy?" but then requested: "Hey Denny, scrub my back!"; he dunked her and then lowered the curtain
Vantine's Rain-Barrel Bath
  • an ongoing relationship was established between Denny and 'Babs' while her husband was briefly sent away on a surveying mission; as Denny toured her around the plantation, 'Babs' asked about his remote life: "Don't you ever miss the people and the comforts of the outside world? Don't you ever get tired of this?"; but then she expressed interest in living with him: "Don't you really think I could fit in out here? Don't you think that I could be happy?"
  • when a torrential wind, lightning and rainstorm came upon them in the jungle as they returned to the house, Denny took 'Babs' in his arms and rescued her; Vantine watched jealously as Denny carried her into the bedroom; he gave the adulterous, virginal married woman a forbidden kiss once they reached shelter; afterwards, she had slight regret: "We shouldn't have done that" - he responded: "But we did"
Adulterous Affair

Vantine Jealously Watched

'Babs' in Denny's Arms

Forbidden Kiss
  • Vantine wittily confronted Denny about taking advantage of 'Babs' distress: "Did the Duchess sprain her ankle? It must be wonderful to be big and strong....Be careful the rain doesn't wash the rouge off your mouth!"; she also offered 'Babs' a drink to calm her nerves during the storm - and they discussed her promiscuousness: "It'll make you forget a lot of things...This storm isn't the only thing that has you worried around here, is it? I saw him kick the door shut. He came out with rouge all over his mouth. Why, I suppose he asked to use your lipstick!"; 'Babs' rationalized her behavior as innocent naivete, and explained away the kiss as "one of those excitement-of-the-moment things"; Vantine wisely admonished: "Well, watch out for the next moment, honey. It's longer than the first"
  • Denny planned to send Gary away again on a lengthier surveying expedition for 3-4 weeks so that he could take advantage of 'Babs' during his absence; Vantine realized what the scheming Denny was setting up and was "just a little nauseated" by it
  • Vantine exhibited bawdy humor as she cleaned the bottom of the parrot's cage, asking about its droppings: "What you been eatin'? Cement?"
  • during Gary's absence, Denny continued to show affection for 'Babs' who returned his kisses willingly; he confessed to her that he wanted to sweep her off her feet: "I never thought this could happen....I'm afraid I'm pretty crazy about you....We'll get out of this rotten country. I've always known that some day, we'll have a swell time, Babs"; their plan was to have him inform her husband of their relationship (Babs: "Are you going to tell him so soon?" Denny: "Sure. Might as well get it over with") and she agreed, although she was unsure how Gary would take it ("He's so helpless")
  • during Denny's visit to Gary working in the swamp, he changed his mind after hearing how deeply Gary loved his wife; he listened as Gary told him about their future plans: ("I'd fold up without Babs. Just being away from her this long has proven that....Babs and I were going to have children right away, and this job came up...I guess we'll wait until we get back home. Before we left, we bought a piece of property outside New York up on the Hudson. We're going to build and settle down there....Babs will be right there with all the people she's known and grown up with. All our closest friends have settled there too. And it'll be a swell place for the children"); Denny abruptly returned early to the plantation
  • Gary's suspicions about Denny's intentions toward Babs were aroused when he heard gossip about their adulterous affair: ("It was an open book on both their faces there was something up. He's been making a play for your wife ever since"); he also saddled up to ride to the plantation to confront Denny
  • after Denny arrived back at the plantation, he confided in Vantine that he had decided to turn noble by not breaking up the Willis' marriage; she welcomed him home with a kiss ("Welcome home, stranger"), sat in his lap, and kissed him; he affirmed that they were more suited to each other: ("You're not a bad kid, Lily. You know about us? We belong here. They don't, those two. Ah, it's a dirty rotten country")
  • when Babs entered the room with a gun, he was playfully wrestling with Vantine; Denny pretended he was a deceitful cad who never loved Babs, in order to end their relationship: ("I didn't say anything to your husband down there and I'm glad I didn't. I've just been kidding you all the time, and everybody knew about it...And if you want to cheat on your husband, that's okay with me. And I'm the boy you're looking for....And let me tell you this: I'm not a one-woman man, I never have been and I never will be") - she reacted by shooting him in the side; when Gary burst in, he was easily convinced that Barbara had honorably rejected Denny's advances: (Denny: "Because I made a pass at her") and was merely taking out her anger against him, and that the rumors about them were a lie (Vantine: "Guidon's a liar!")
  • Vantine persuasively stated that Babs' actions were just: ("You oughta be proud of her. This bozo's been after her every minute. And tonight he comes in drunk and tries to break into her room and she shoots him. The way any virtuous woman, with a beast like that. If I were you, Mr. Willis, I'd take her away from here, and the quicker the better"); Vantine performed a surgical operation on Denny to clean up and sterilize his bullet wound

Babs Reconciled with Gary
Babs Shooting at Denny
  • in the final scene, Vantine helped Denny recuperate from a gunshot wound - she sat by his bedside to read a bedtime story about a chipmunk and a rabbit - she asked herself a sexually-disguised question " "A chipmunk and a rabbit. Hey, I wonder how this comes out?"; she also read a short excerpt from the newspaper about the Willis' return to the US by sailing to San Francisco; she then continued reading (with exaggerated baby talk) about the "hippity-hop, hippity-hop" Molly Cottontail rabbit, while he made little walking, "hippity-hoppity-ing" motions with his fingers up her thigh as he moved his hand up her leg

Dennis Carson (Clark Gable)

Vantine (Jean Harlow)

Flirtations with Denny

"Babs" and Gary Willis

"Babs" with Denny

Denny's Torrential Rainstorm Rescue of 'Babs'

Vantine Offering 'Babs' a Drink After Her Indiscretion

Vantine Cleaning the Parrot Cage

Denny Kissing 'Babs' Again and Making Plans to Run Off Together

Gary's Expression of Devoted Love Toward Babs

Denny's Return Home to Vantine: "Welcome home, stranger"

Final Scene: Denny's Recuperation From a Gunshot Wound - with a Bedtime Story


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