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Adventure is a fairly straight-forward story of a sailor, one without any sense of commitment, who ends up finding someone who loves him and who he may end up loving in return. Harry (Clark Gable) meets Emily (Greer Garson) and things are never quite the same for both of the (starstruck?) lovers.
The biggest problem with the film Adventure is the fact that it suffers from a script that doesn't seem to have any interesting direction behind it. The story is so simple that it offers viewers few surprising turns and it makes the experience less memorable as a result. The main character is a womanizer who doesn't seem to recognize how he has hurt women emotionally by not being the man he should be. Harry Patterson (Clark Gable) is not in tune with his surroundings and despite his profession (which involves sailing the seas) he doesn't seek the adventure of starting a family and marrying a loved one but instead the mere joys of sea-life: solitude and locale exploration is apparently the gist of his adventurous spirit.
Then one day things change for him. Harry meets a nice librarian by the name of Emily Sears (Greer Garson) and a part of him finds love in a way he didn't expect. Yet he ignores himself, these feelings, and instead departs from her. Emily is distraught and lonely without Harry, who she has fallen in love with. Harry may only be able to find a true understanding of his feelings from talking to a man on his ship's crew who feels he has lost his soul and who wants to find a way to gain it back again. The redemptive arc of the story is one of the more interesting aspects. I wish it had been more fully explored in the script, but instead it can seem pushed aside when the film wants to focus more on attempting to build the romance between Gable and Garson. The acting is phenomenal, and is truly the best reason to watch the film (besides the stellar direction).
The direction by Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind) is easily the greatest strength of the film. Fleming is one of those great movie artists who knew how to tell a story for cinema-goers and he was able to bring forth incredible performances from the actors he worked with. Adventure displays all of those qualities of direction, and it is all the better for it. There are few moments that don't seem to be contemplative or special in some degree because of how the director handled the material with such a special grace and skill. Still, the actual scripted material is not on par with true epics like The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, both of which have received their well deserved recognition as definitive films -- in part because of an understanding of storytelling found within the stories themselves. Adventure has solid craftsmanship (direction, acting, cinematography, music) but it lacks the sense of adventure that one would expect from a production from such a high profile filmmaker. Let alone from a film that actually has a title like "Adventure" which doesn't really help to describe the story for audiences.
Adventure is worth watching for historical reasons (especially for cinema-lovers who want to see how it compares to other Victor Fleming films) but the screenplay seems merely OK and is dated in some regards (though the conclusion to the story does raise some interesting questions when one considers the time-frame of the production). Adventure isn't necessarily an essential choice, but one that still has some merits worthy of exploration for an adventurous fan of cinema. Pun is intended (and hopefully also enjoyed).
Adventure is promoted on as being a "Remastered Edition" on the front cover art of the DVD release. The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. This is truly an impressive release in regards to the overall picture quality. The print has clearly been restored with much enthusiasm as most moments seem to be clean and crisp. There isn't much in the way of print damage or signs of an aging source. The black and white cinematography looks stunning at times and has strong black levels that really help to set the mood for many scenes in the film. Warner Bros has released a great restored version of Adventure and any fan who wants to see the film look the best it has to date should seek out this release (while this DVD represents my first viewing of the film the print is strong enough to suggest that this is the best release thus far).
The audio is a somewhat standard sounding mono presentation and it can't entirely compare to the strong video restoration but it does seem as though the audio was restored as well. The audio was clean, clear, and easy to follow but it is generally limited to just dialogue reproduction. The film seems to sound as it was surely intended.
The only extra on this M.O.D. (Made on Demand) release is the original theatrical trailer (which clearly demonstrates that Warner Bros restored the film well as the trailer print quality isn't that impressive). The release does contain full color artwork and disc art on the DVD.
Adventure is a curious effort from the marvelously gifted filmmaker Victor Fleming. The story is somewhat standard, occasionally dated, and it doesn't have the sense of the adventure the title implies. The film is more than competently made and seems to be an impressive production on most levels of filmmaking. Fans of Clark Gable, Greer Garson, and Victor Fleming should see the film for historical relevance and will likely consider it worth owning. Most audiences will want to give it a rental first though. This Remastered Edition DVD release is recommended to fans of the film and those interested in following the work done by Gable, Garson, and Fleming.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.