I’ve never liked Victor Fleming’s Red Dust (‘32) or the remake, John Ford’s Mogambo (‘53). They’re both tepid eye-rollers about a pair of anxious, somewhat hungry women wanting to seduce and maybe bunker down with the randy, rugged-ass Clark Gable (Jean Harlow and Mary Astor in the black-and-white ‘32 version, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly in the Technicolor retread).

Ford’s version, shot by Robert Surtees and Freddie Young, is the more visually captivating — I’ll give it that much.

I’m mentioning all this because of a 7.1.23 AirMail article about the late 1952 location shoot (mostly Africa, some Londön) of Mogambo. Nicely written by Richard Cohen, it’s titled “Sinatra in the Jungle” but is really about the whole shooting magilla…all the various political and logistical intrigues.

Maybe the title was chosen because Gardner’s husband, the fallen-upon-hard-times but “good in the feathers” Frank Sinatra, was in a weakened psychological condition while visiting the shoot and doing next to nothing except attending to the usual conjugal passions with Ava, who reportedly paid for the poor guy’s long-distance air fare to Kenya. Tough times.

So yes, Sinatra’s career was in a ditch during filming in November and December of ‘52, but early the following year he landed the energizing, perfect-groove role of Pvt. Maggio in Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity (‘53), and won a totally back-in-the-pink, career-rejuvenating Best Supporting Actor Oscar in March54.

And yet Cohen’s article claims Sinatra’s career was still flatlining in ‘54…wrong.

Repeating: Down & despairing in late ‘52, lucky pocket-drop casting in a strong film in early ’53, Oscar champ in March ‘54. Sinatra’s actual career skid years were ‘49, ‘50, ‘51, ‘52 and early ‘53, give or take.