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The Hucksters Details


When he was first offered the film version of the best-selling Frederick Wakeman novel The Hucksters, Clark Gable turned it down, characterizing the book as "filthy and not entertainment." He finally agreed to star in the film after screenwriter Luther Davis' extensive laundering job. Gable plays Vic Norman, a radio advertising executive just returned from World War II. His wartime experiences have soured him on the phony aspects of his profession; nonetheless, he takes a job with the biggest and phoniest agency in town, headed by the glad-handing Kimberly (Adolphe Menjou). At Kimberly's recommendation, Vic takes over the Beautee Soap account, which brings him in close quarter's with Beautee's boorish head man Evans (Sidney Greenstreet). At their first meeting, Evans unexpectedly spits on his highly polished conference table. "Gentlemen," he growls, summing up his philosophy on advertising, "You have just seen me do a disgusting thing. But you will always remember it!" (Evans was based on George Washington Hill, the colorfully crude president of the American Tobacco Company). Vic's first assignment for Evans is to round up 25 high society women to sign testimonials for Beautee Soap. The least cooperative of the bunch is young widow Mrs. Dorrance (Deborah Kerr, in her American film debut), the stepdaughter of an American war hero. Attracted to Vic, Mrs. Dorrance signs the agreement, but breaks off her personal relationship with Vic when it appears as though he's making unsolicited advances towards her. The ever-demanding Evans then insists that Vic sign up two-bit comedian Buddy Hare (Keenan Wynn) for a radio program. Becoming more and more corrupt with each passing day, Vic obtains Hare's service at a rock-bottom 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 who eventually gives him up because of his apparent lack of scruples. Returning to the Beautee Soap headquarters, Vic watches dumbstruck as 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 himself and with Evans' childish baiting tactics that he tells off the soap mogul in no uncertain terms, ending his tirade by dousing Evans with a pitcher of water. Having regained his integrity, Vic is now worthy of the love of Mrs. Dorrance, who has forgiven him his earlier misdeeds. As the film ends, she encourages Vic to use his advertising talents for something clean and honest (and, undoubtedly, starve to death in the process!) To mollify Madison Avenue, screenwriter Davis narrowed the attack on advertisers to one single radio sponsor; to please Gable, Mrs. Dorrance was changed from a still-married woman to a widow, while Vic Rodman is transformed from a "huckster" to an idealist who Does the Right Thing at the end. The Hucksters is one of Clark Gable's best postwar films, as well as one of the finest Hollywood satires of the rarefied world of advertising. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Edward Arnold
as Dave Lash
Clark Gable
as Victor Albee Norman
Lillian Bronson
as Miss Hammer
Deborah Kerr
as Kay Dorrance
Sydney Greenstreet
as Evan Llewellyn Evans
Kathryn Card
as Regina Kennedy
Adolphe Menjou
as Mr. Kimberly
Ava Gardner
as Jean Ogilvie
Jimmy Conlin
as Blake
Keenan Wynn
as Buddy Hare
Douglas Fowley
as Georgie Gaver
Richard Gaines
as Cooke
Connie Gilchrist
as Betty
Gloria Holden
as Mrs. Kimberly
Aubrey Mather
as Valet
Clinton Sundberg
as Michael Michaelson
Robert E. O'Connor
as Doorman
Richard Abbott
as Elevator Starter
John Hiestand
as Radio Announcer
Harry V. Cheshire
as Joe Lorrison
Byron Morgan
as Radio Soundman
George O'Hanlon
as Freddie Callahan
Jack Rice
as Clerk
Sammy McKim
as Western Union messenger
Gordon Richards
as Kimberly Butler
Marie Windsor
as Girl
Anne Nagel
as Teletypist
William Benedict
as Bellboy
Tom Stevenson
as Paul Evans
Frank Albertson
as Max Herman


Jack Conway
Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Frederic Wakeman
Book Author
Edward Chodorov
Harold Hal Rosson
Cedric Gibbons
Art Director
Urie McCleary
Art Director
Edwin B. Willis
Set Designer
Irene Sharaff
Costume Designer
Warren Newcombe
Special Effects
Arnold A. Gillespie
Special Effects
Jack Dawn