To Please a Lady

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To Please a Lady
Theatrical poster
Directed byClarence Brown
Written byMarge Decker
Barré Lyndon
Produced byClarence Brown
StarringClark Gable
Barbara Stanwyck
CinematographyHarold Rosson
Edited byRobert Kern
Music byBronislau Kaper
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • October 13, 1950 (1950-10-13)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.8 million[1]
Box office$2.9 million[1]

To Please a Lady is a 1950 American romance film produced and directed by Clarence Brown, and starring Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. The climactic race scene was shot at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Racing driver Mike Brannan has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to win. Powerful nationwide columnist Regina Forbes decides to interview Mike just before a race, and becomes annoyed when he is rather brusque with her. At the Newark track, Mike and popular competitor Joe Youghal fight for the lead. When a car they are about to lap crashes in front of them, Mike safely drives around it on the inside, forcing Joe to try to go outside. The result is a three car wreck in which Youghal is killed. In her column the next day, Regina blames Mike for Joe's death and brings up a prior racing fatality involving him. As a result, he is barred by nervous midget racing circuit managers anxious to avoid bad publicity.

Unable to race, Mike has to sell his midget racing car. He becomes a star stunt driver for Joie Chitwood, performing dangerous stunts at auto circuses for $100 a show. When Regina's editor, Gregg, updates her about Mike, she shows unexpected interest. She goes to see how Mike is doing. He tells her he has earned enough money to buy a Championship car of his own and enter the big leagues, where Regina has no influence. She provokes him into first slapping and then kissing her. She likes it, and they start seeing each other.

He is very successful on the racetrack, always finishing in the money; but the relationship between Mike and Regina is rocky. When a corrupt businessman Regina has been hounding is convicted and commits suicide rather than face 25 years in prison, she sees that she possesses some of the same ruthlessness that makes Mike so successful on the racetrack and better understands him, begins to love him, yet knows her doubts about whether his recklessness directly killed a man stands between them.

Brannan qualifies for the Indianapolis 500 at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During the race, at a key moment reminiscent of what happened at Newark with a wreck on the track, Mike waves a competitor through a gap big enough for only one of them. He attempts to go around the wreck on the grass, but his car flips and tumbles. He is rushed to the hospital, luckily with only minor injuries. Regina rushes to the track hospital, lets him know that she is proud of him, and declares her love for him.



The racing scenes were filmed at Carroll Speedway in Los Angeles.[2] Dirt track sequences were filmed at Arlington Downs in Texas.[2] Because Stanwyck was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for shooting of the film's final scenes, she was on hand in Victory Lane after the 1950 race to offer the real 500 winner, Johnnie Parsons, the traditional congratulatory kiss.[3][circular reference]


According to MGM records, the film earned $2,061,000 in North America and $861,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $47,000.[1][4]


In 1951, future 500 winner and four-time American National Champion, Mario Andretti saw the film as a young boy in his native Italy - where it was titled Indianapolis - an event which introduced him to the race for the first time.[5]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ a b Hazelton, Lachlan (2021). Glimpse of Gable. A Biography. Penny Publishing. p. 197. ISBN 9780994589385.
  3. ^ Wikipedia "1950 Indianapolis 500"
  4. ^ "Top Grosses of 1950". Variety. January 3, 1951. p. 58.
  5. ^ Oreovicz, John (2021). Indy Split: The Big Money Battle that Nearly Destroyed Indy Racing. Austin, TX: Octane Press. p. 365. ISBN 978-1-64234-056-3.

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