Judged a misfire at the time of its release, Adventure is actually a decent little film. Part of the problem in 1945 is that viewers hearing that Clark Gable would appear in a film called Adventure must have expected quite a different picture than this relatively quiet, light-but-touching feature. The adventure of the title is really the adventure of giving up a rough bachelor's life and learning to become committed to a wife and family. Not that there isn't action along the way, but the film is essentially a romance and a coming-of-age story for an adult man. This summary makes the screenplay sound better than it is, but in actuality the script never really finds its footing, despite a few memorable scenes and some nifty stretches of dialogue. Gable gives a nicely nuanced performance and does himself proud in the setpiece scene in which he saves his baby's life. Greer Garson is lovely, and Joan Blondell and Thomas Mitchell steal a couple of scenes quite handily. Victor Fleming's direction is inconsistent, quite good in some sections and ineffective in others.
A middle-aged Clark Gable returned from active duty in World War II to star in this MGM release that was heavily advertised as his big comeback. Gable is Harry Patterson, the bosun mate on a merchant marine vessel, a tough sailor and fighter with the proverbial girl in every port. But while in a San Francisco library, looking up a book on the human soul for his sidekick Mudgin (Thomas Mitchell), who thinks his soul has departed his body, Harry meets librarian Emily Sears (Greer Garson), whom he woos, marries, and leaves to sail off on another freighter. When he returns, Emily has retreated to an old farm to await the birth of their child. Harry continues to resent staying in one place, but he ultimately changes his tune when his baby's life hangs in the balance. Garson and Joan Blondell, playing her outspoken best friend, are both terrific, and Gable gives a less heroic performance that's a thoughtful change for him, although critics at the time were less than charitable.