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Band of Angels

movie review of Band of Angels (1957) starring Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney Poitier

Band of Angels (1957) starring Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney PoitierIn an attempt to carry on in his great Rhett Butler tradition, “Gone With The Wind” star Clark Gable once again flexes his muscular charms in another Civil War-era movie about the torrid romance between a plantation owner and a half-caste beauty. Directed by Raoul Walsh, and also starring Yvonne De Carlo and Sidney Poitier, the film is highlighted by a stunning musical score by Gone with the Wind composer Max Steiner.

Frankly, if I had never seen Gone with the Wind, I would have enjoyed Band of Angels much more.   The basic problem is that Clark Gable’s character (Hamish Bond) is nearly identical to his character in Gone with the Wind.   That’s frankly too bad, because Band of Angels is an enjoyable movie, with a very adult handling of a difficult issue — slavery in America.

The movie begins in the American South shortly before the Civil War, where the lovely young Amantha Starr (played by the beautiful Yvonne de Carlo) returns home from her schooling in the North upon hearing that her beloved father is seriously ill.   Unfortunately, by the time she arrives, he has died, and a very dangerous secret is brought out — €”Amantha, who appears to be white, is actually the daughter of her departed father and one of his slaves — and she is sold into slavery to the “dashing rogue” Hamish Bond (played by Clark Gable).   Hamish’s plantation is run with more kindness than whips, and he has been raising the slave Rau-Ru (played by Sidney Poitier) as his own son — despite this, Rau-Ru is bridling with the bitterness of slavery against his owner.

Against the backdrop of the Civil War, there are various intrigues, and other secrets that come to the fore — as I say, it’s an adult discussion of a serious subject, wrapped in an entertaining film.   It also deals with the duality of mankind’s good and bad side — but I really can’t say any more without giving away the movie.

I enjoyed Band of Angels, and I rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Editorial review of Band of Angels (1957) starring Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney Poitier, courtesy of Amazon.com

Sidney Poitier, in the beginning of his career, fires up the screen in the Civil-War-era bodice-ripper Band of Angels. The movie follows Amantha Starr (Yvonne De Carlo, later on The Munsters), a Southern belle whose fortunes fall when her father dies and family secrets come to light. She ends up under the protection of Hamish Bond (Clark Gable, close to the end of his long, remarkable career and still radiating an easy, charismatic masculinity), a plantation owner with secrets of his own. For much of the movie, slavery and the Civil War are just a colorful backdrop for a turgid romance — but just when you’re ready to write the movie off, a scene unexpectedly digs into something more emotionally and politically complex.

Poitier plays Bond’s plantation foreman; every time he appears, Band of Angels turns into something fierce and promising. That promise never fully takes hold — Clark Gable is the movie’s hero, not Poitier — but those crackling scenes (combined with a surprisingly sexual frankness in a 1957 feature) make Band of Angels more than just an embarrassing collection of manly swaggers, flashing eyes, and lugubrious spirituals. — €”Bret Fetzer

Movie quotes from Band of Angels starring Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney PoitierBand of Angels, UK Movie Poster, 1957

Amantha Starr (Yvonne de Carlo): [Wakes up in bed, stretches] Mr. Hamish Bond can’t keep me here! I’m leaving the moment his back is turned.
Michele: [Offers a tray of food] The Master said those low-down men didn’t bother to feed you. You must be very hungry.
Amantha Starr (Yvonne de Carlo): [Frowns] I’ll leave — as soon as I’ve had the chance to rest and recover my strength.
[Picks up a knife and fork and begins to eat]


Amantha Starr (Yvonne de Carlo): You say you won’t touch me. You give me your word as a gentleman. Well, what’s to stop you from breakin’ your word late one night and forcin’ yourself on me while I sleep?
Hamish Bond (Clark Gable): [grins] Only the word of a gentleman.
Amantha Starr (Yvonne de Carlo): [late that night, unable to sleep] He said he wouldn’t. But those are his footsteps, coming down the hall. Coming closer!
[listens tensely]
Amantha Starr (Yvonne de Carlo): He didn’t! Not tonight, anyway. Why not?
[Frowning at first, she thinks it over, then gradually falls asleep]


Trivia for Band of Angels starring Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney Poitier

  • The film proved to be a complete failure on release, both critically and commercially. Clark Gable was annoyed by the comparisons with Gone with the Wind and instructed his agent, “If it doesn’t suit an old geezer with false teeth, forget about it. ”  He also decided to part company with Raoul Walsh, previously one of his favorite directors.
  • The movie was derisively nicknamed “The Ghost of Gone with the Wind”.