Anya von Duren (Rosalind Russell) and Gerald Meldrick (Clark Gable) are jewel thieves, but this is no coupled-up teamwork arrangement. They’re competitors, both after a very large, very expensive piece known as the “Star of Asia.”
The jewel is owned by a Duchess (Jessie Ralph), and both thieves try to win her confidence. Gerald’s tactic is to pose as a detective, while Anya takes on the role of a socialite — someone the Duchess can relate to, perhaps befriend.
After things go a bit haywire, the two reluctantly decide to team up. They get possession of the gem, but need to keep it out of the hands of the police and a greedy freighter captain (Peter Lorre, in horrible make-up).
They Met in Bombay was directed by Clarence Brown. The screenplay was written by Edwin Justus Mayer, Anita Loos, and Leon Gordon from a story by John Kafka.
It took three writers to craft They Met In Bombay, but their efforts didn’t quite pay off. The script is pretty bland, not bringing any huge laughs, swoons, or drama. This surprised me, especially with Anita Loos involved. The cast approves upon the material, but its weakness is still apparent.
Die-hard fans of Rosalind Russell and Clark Gable should still tune in for the film, as they’re plenty of fun to watch together. Their banter and chemistry keep the film afloat, in spite of its script’s problems.
It’s a classic hate-to-love romance. They trade jabs about who is the better thief, but Gable also shamelessly flirts with Russell. (“How can a man put handcuffs on moonlight?” is one of his pick-up lines, as he pretends to be a detective but chooses not to “arrest” her.)
Roz’s performance was my favorite part of the picture. She portrays her character as a self-assured thief who comes to want more out of her life than just schemes and treasure. She wants a life with love, and a life that doesn’t involve running from the law. A very sympathetic character, adding the film’s only touch of heart.
Had the film carried on with the rom-com potential of the first half, I probably would have loved it. As much as I cared for Roz’s character, I could have done without the couple’s silly conflict over whether to go “straight,” as well as without the odd turn of events which leaves Gable trapped in the military. This film is worth a look for die-hard fans of Roz and Gable, but otherwise it’s skippable.