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THEY MET IN BOMBAY (director: Clarence Brown; screenwriters: story by John H. Kafka/Edwin Justus Mayer/Anita Loos/Leon Gordon; cinematographer: William H. Daniels; editor: Blanche Sewell; music: Herbert Stothart; cast: Clark Gable (Gerald Meldrick), Rosalind Russell (Anya Von Duren), Peter Lorre (Captain Chang), Jessie Ralph (Duchess of Beltravers), Reginald Owen (General Allen), Eduardo Ciannelli (Giovanni Riccio), Matthew Boulton (Inspector Cressney); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hunt Stromberg; MGM; 1941)
“It tickles the bones even though the plot is slight and the story line is farfetched and hardly believable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Star power entertaining thriller set in India and China but filmed in California. It tickles the bones even though the plot is slight and the story line is farfetched and hardly believable. Veteran studio director Clarence Brown (“Night Flight”/”To Please a Lady”/”The Possessed”) keeps the nonsense bubbling with excitement by letting the stars, Russell and Gable, showing good chemistry together, turn on their charm in a display of razzle-dazzle retorts, which is about all anyone could do with such a diverting but ordinary romantic-comedy chase story. The story is by John H. Kafka and the writers are Edwin Justus Mayer, Anita Loos and Leon Gordon.

In Bombay, Gerald Meldrick (Clark Gable) poses as a Lloyd’s of London insurance agent and Anya Von Duren (Rosalind Russell) pretends to be an aristocratic friend of the Royal Family. It’s soon revealed that they’re both jewel thieves who are working alone to rob the priceless necklace called the Star of Asia that belongs to the Duchess of Beltravers (Jessie Ralph). Anya befriends the duchess over dinner at the hotel and steals the necklace after getting her tipsy and dismissing the servants. Gerald replaces the real pendant with a phony while the duchess is sleeping it off, and then lifts the real one from Anya without arresting her. When Anya realizes that he’s a rival jewel thief and confronts him as he’s riding to the airport, the two are forced to flee together as Inspector Cressney is wise to the switch and is on their trail. They steal away in the ocean on a rowboat and are given a lift on a tramp steamer bound for Hong Kong by the greedy, money-hungry and unreliable Captain Chang (Peter Lorre). He betrays them to the British police for the reward, but the clever twosome, now a romantic duo, jump ship and head for Hong Kong. Gerald dresses like a British soldier in one episode in a scheme to get money for a passage to a safer country, but after the scheme works is forced to continue the charade when ordered by a colonel to help evacuate British and Chinese citizens from a village invaded by the Japanese. Things get ludicrous, as Gerald gets overcome with nobility and becomes a hero by taking out a number of Japanese machine gunners who ambush his evacuation; for that he receives the Victoria Cross when he recovers in an army hospital from his wounds. The film loses its snappy dialogue and vinegar when the couple show signs of a willingness to reform and Gerald, when he realizes the jig is up, surrenders to the authorities and returns the stolen merchandise. We’re led to believe that Anya will be waiting for him after he gets out of the slammer and the Brit army will let him enlist.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”