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directed by Victor Fleming
USA 1932


Three days up the river from Saigon sits a rubber plantation that’s barely above water. Managed by Denny (Gable), he works his coolies to the bone in a desperate attempt to keep his head above water. Denny’s spent practically his whole life on the plantation, so isn’t very used to it when a woman shows up looking for a place to stay.

That’s Vantine (Harlow), on the run for reasons wisely left unspecified. The important thing is that she manages to overcome Denny’s hurdles to having a woman around the house, even if, in the course of it, she ends up leaving her guard down for a little too long and falling for him. When the month is up and it’s time for her return trip to Saigon, she tries to refuse the money; he won’t even listen, promising more if he ever makes it to her neck of the woods.

This is barely the end of the first act, and we already see Vantine’s chops. Look at Harlow’s picture on the right as her character realizes that her feelings are unmatched and that Denny still sees her as just a prostitute. Whenever I thought back to this scene later on, I thought I saw it in color– Harlow’s emotions are just that vivid.

A sign of affection.

Vantine of course isn’t long on that boat, but when she returns she finds something horrifically depressing: Denny’s a new surveyor and his lovely wife have arrived. The surveyor comes down with a serious fever, but Denny gets it worse– he falls for the wife but hard.

She’s Barbara (Astor), a blushing newlywed who still fawns over her husband even during the deepest fits of his illness. Gable’s brutishness, even as he’s saving her husband’s life, immediately arouses her righteous fury. When Gable nonchalantly refuses to dote on him along with her, she expels her anger with a hard slap; he sees this as a come on.

After helping the surveyor recover, Denny immediately dispatches him to the field for a month, leaving him and Barbara in the house with only Vantine and the Vietnamese cook to watch over them. I’ll get to the cook here in a moment, but Vantine’s reactions oscillate between desperate flirtation and bitter despair.

Excerpt of review from located HERE


Theatrical Release: 22 October 1932

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:22:39

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.86 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Spanish trailer (2:11)

DVD Release Date: October 16th, 2013
Keep Case

Chapters 27



In October 2011, Warner Archive celebrated Jean Harlow centennial with a Jean Harlow: 100th Anniversary Collection with 7 films, but one of her best pictures was not included - Red Dust. This was due to poor quality of existing film elements for the picture, but just a year later, after a meticulous restoration, the film was released as part of Warner Archive Collection. The picture shows its age and there some specs and flickering, but the contrast is good and image quality is miles above the VHS transfer from 1990's that was used for international DVD releases, like Japanese disc from 2000. The dialogue is clear, but mono audio shows its early talkie technology. The lone extra is a Spanish-language trailer that is fascinating to watch and the film is divided into 27 chapters. We can highly recommend this release from Warner Archive.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC


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