Marital wars, Italian style   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.23 at 23:24
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard mr. & mrs. smith 86a

“Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” Carole Lombard’s penultimate film and the last released during her lifetime, was a comeback of sorts for Carole, whose recent forays into drama won some applause from critics but relatively little from the public. Under Alfred Hitchcock’s direction and being lovingly photographed, she had fine chemistry with co-star Robert Montgomery, and the battles between the Smiths made it a worldwide hit. (As a result of World War II, while North America and some European countries such as Sweden saw “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” in 1941, for Lombard fans elsewhere, it would become a posthumous release.)

One of those nations might have been Italy, which fought with the Axis for much of the war and may have restricted access to Hollywood product. But eventually Carole’s Italian admirers saw the film, which in that nation was titled…

carole lombard mr. & mrs. smith italian poster 00a

…”Il signore e la signora Smith.”

That was one of the posters for the film in Italy. Here’s another:

carole lombard mr. & mrs. smith italian poster 01b

Each poster, measuring 13″ x 17″ and apparently in excellent condition, are on sale at eBay. The top poster ( goes for $280, while the lower one ( sells for $211.40.

Posted April 23, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

The Great Villain Blogathon: C. Aubrey Smith, ‘No More Orchids’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.22 at 01:12
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard no more orchids 30c
great villain blogathon 00a

Once Carole Lombard received a seven-year contract from Paramount in 1930, her days cast as villainous roles were more or less over. Not that Lombard had ever played an out-and-out “boo-hiss” type — she was probably too pretty for such parts — but in films such as Pathe’s “Show Folks” (1928) and Fox’s “The Arizona Kid” (1930), she portrayed persons who were mildly antagonistic.

It would be left for others to carry the villain banner against Carole, and while several performed it with aplomb (Gail Patrick in “My Man Godfrey,” Sig Rumann in “To Be Or Not To Be”) perhaps the greatest of Lombard antagonists was a veteran British character actor who was the unofficial head of the UK Hollywood corps. His name? C. Aubrey Smith. We’ll shortly examine his colorful life, but first, let’s profile his role, as Jerome Cedric, shown above with Lombard in “No More Orchids”:

Jerome is the wealthy grandfather of Carole’s character, Anne Holt, and he also controls the pursestrings of her banker father Bill Holt, played by Walter Connolly. Jerome’s obsessed with titles and prestige, and is forcing Anne to marry into royalty to keep Bill’s bank afloat. Trouble is, Anne is in love with white-collar, but poor, Tony Gage (Lyle Talbot).

Smith’s character is downright nasty when it comes to getting what he wants — and if Anne doesn’t marry royalty, her father’s bank will be kaput (there was no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1932). We won’t spoil the ending for you, but Jerome is thwarted, though it takes tragedy to do it.

c. aubrey smith 00

The 6-foot-4 Smith, born in 1863 (the “C.” stood for Charles), was a talented actor on both stage and screen…but he also was known as an outstanding cricketer, even representing England in a test match (that’s the highest level of international play) against South Africa. Smith maintained his enthusiasm for cricket after moving to America and even taught and coached the sport at UCLA with fellow Brit emigre Boris Karloff. Want proof? Here’s a page from the 1934 yearbook:

1934 ucla yearbook c. aubrey smith boris karloff 00a

Smith’s turn as a villain in “No More Orchids” (his only film with Lombard) was atypical for him; he tended to play British stiff-upper-lip types, either as leads or in supporting roles. You can find him in some of the 1930s’ best-known films — “Tarzan The Ape Man,” “Love Me Tonight,” “The Barbarian,” “Bombshell,” “Queen Christina,” “The Scarlet Empress,” the Claudette Colbert “Cleopatra,” “The Lives Of A Bengal Lancer,” “The Gilded Lily,” “China Seas,” “The Crusades,” “Romeo And Juliet,” “The Prisoner Of Zenda” (he had played in its stage premiere in 1895) and “Another Thin Man.” One of his other movies was 1931′s “The Bachelor Father” with Marion Davies:

marion davies the bachelor father c. aubrey smith 00a

Smith kept working into the 1940s, with credits such as “Rebecca,” “Waterloo Bridge,” the Spencer Tracy “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde,” “Madame Curie” and Ernst Lubitsch’s “Cluny Brown.” He received the Order of the British Empire in 1938 and was knighted in 1944 for fostering British-American unity. He died in December 1948 — roughly six decades after he was wrongly pronounced dead after catching pneumonia while digging for gold in South Africa — and his last screen appearance was posthumous, in the 1949 version of “Little Women.”

Posted April 22, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Photos, ‘Now And Forever’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.21 at 18:41
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

carole lombard now and forever 25a

Above are Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper and Shirley Temple in one of two promotional photos from their 1934 Paramount film “Now And Forever.” It’s being auctioned at eBay, as is this photo of Shirley performing in front of a bunch of kids:

carole lombard now and forever 26b

That may or may not be Lombard in a rocking chair at right; that certainly isn’t Cooper standing behind her. Both are original photos — as the seller notes, “First photo has pinholes in the border, both have light wear.”

The opening bid for the pair is $9.99, with the auction scheduled to end at 6:01 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. Interested? Go to

Posted April 21, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Spend some time in 1920s ‘Screenland’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.20 at 19:20
Current mood: impressedimpressed

carole lombard screenland october 1935 cover

That’s from the October 1935 issue of Screenland, apparently the first time Carole Lombard appeared on the cover of that fan magazine. We note it because the Media History Digital Library has added it to its extensive online library of fan mags, and a considerable run it is, too — from 1920 to 1960, save for 1925 (though some of the earlier volumes either are lost or have yet to be uploaded).

This must have been done recently, because it has yet to be publicized, nor has Screenland’s holdings been added to its Lantern search platform.

Screenland’s initial issue was dated September 1920, and the magazine ran for slightly more than half a century. It featured the likes of literary legend H.L. Mencken as its film reviewer in 1922, and two years later hired as its editor and reviewer a lady with the colorful name of Delight Evans (who, like Lombard, was a Fort Wayne, Ind., native); she’d remain with the magazine until the late ’40s.

carole lombard screenland october 1928ab

This image from October 1928 may have been Lombard’s first picture in Screenland; it probably came from Pathe Pictures, which unlike Mack Sennett did not use an “e” at the end of her first name. The initial story on her apparently ran a year later, in its September 1929 issue, titled “Lombard — Unlimited.” The first two pages have previously run at Carole & Co., albeit in relatively small print, but here’s the entire article (double-click to see it at full size):

carole lombard screenland september 1929aa
carole lombard screenland september 1929ba
carole lombard screenland september 1929ca

A few noticeable errors here. As most of us know, Carole was not born with the last name of Lombard but came into this world as Jane Alice Peters…and while she attended high school in Los Angeles (though she did not graduate), it was at Fairfax High, not Los Angeles High. And while Buck Jones was, like Lombard, born a Hoosier, it was in Vincennes, Ind. — at the other end of the state — and not Fort Wayne, much less Rockhill Street.

This pic of Carole with Pathe stablemate Diane Ellis and a canine companion also ran in September of ’29:

carole lombard screenland september 1929db

The December issue featured Evans’ review of “Big News,” and while she generally approved of the picture, she refused to give her fellow Fort Wayne expatriate a hometown discount…

carole lombard screenland december 1929ab

..although some of her banter with Robert Armstrong made its “The Best Lines Of The Month”:

carole lombard screenland december 1929bb

She also was shown relaxing on a lean-to between scenes, probably on the set of “The Racketeer,” because her gown was too tight:

carole lombard screenland december 1929cb

The February ’29 issue reported on some parties, including one hosted by Mitchell Leisen…at least we think it’s Leisen (he was Cecil B. DeMille’s art director), though judging from the apparent phonetic spelling, we can’t completely be sure:

carole lombard screenland february 1929bd

We learned Lombard danced (“beautifully”) with Barry Norton, an Argentine actor born Alfredo Carlos Birabén and a noted ballroom dancer:

carole lombard screenland february 1929be

But here’s the most interesting tidbit…we learn Lombard tried her hand at surfboarding, decades before it became fashionable:

carole lombard screenland february 1929bf

Carole Lombard, surfer girl?

More Lombard-related items from Screenland in the near future.

Posted April 20, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Their first time together as leads(?)…in Leeds   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.19 at 20:14
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard now and forever 05d

For Carole Lombard fans, “Now And Forever” is probably best remembered today as her lone film with Shirley Temple, on loan to Paramount shortly before her meteoric rise to fame at Fox (which hadn’t yet merged with Darryl F. Zanuck’s Twentieth Century Pictures at the time this was made in the summer of 1934). But when it arrived in Great Britain the following March, the local theater took a different angle to promote it…and got it all wrong.

The theater in question is the Paramount Theatre in Leeds:

carole lombard now and forever paramount leeds 00a
carole lombard now and forever paramount leeds 01a

Read the paragraph below:

carole lombard now and forever paramount leeds 01b

That “new starring romantic team” was Cooper and Lombard, according to this program, which added, “the picture marks the first time that these two popular players have appeared together as leads.”

Say what?

carole lombard i take this woman 49b

Weren’t they aware of a film issued a few years earlier named “I Take This Woman”?, where Carole and Coop definitely were the leads? (That movie probably played Leeds.)

Whatever; let’s ignore that error and look at the rest of this program. Also coming to the Paramount was a Zane Grey western starring two fellow Lombard cast members, Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick, playing not “the other woman,” but the leading lady…

carole lombard now and forever paramount leeds 02a

…Joan Bennett (whose first film, “Power,” was a silent with Lombard) and Francis Lederer in “The Pursuit Of Happiness”…

carole lombard now and forever paramount leeds 03a

…and Sylvia Sidney opposite former (and future) Carole co-star Gene Raymond in “Behold My Wife”:

carole lombard now and forever paramount leeds 04a

The Paramount opened in early 1932 with the Ernst Lubitsch gem “The Smiling Lieutenant.” Here’s the exterior, not long after it opened, with “This Is The Night” on the marquee:

paramount odeon leeds 00a

Renamed the Odeon in 1940, the theater later was host to concerts featuring acts such as Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, the Beach Boys and several appearances by the Beatles (including two shows with Roy Orbison in June 1963). Here’s the stage where they performed:

paramount odeon leeds 01a

The Odeon was “twinned” in 1968 and eventually became a five-screen multiplex. But suburbanization affected UK theaters too, and the last films were shown there in late 2001. While the interior was razed and converted into retail space, the exterior was preserved.

The eight-page program measures 8.5″ x 5″ and is in good condition with some light ageing. The opening bid in this auction is $9.99, with bidding scheduled to end at 5:36 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday. Interested in adding this to your collection of Lombardiana? Then visit Just remember that it wasn’t Gary and Carole’s first cinematic go-round.

Posted April 19, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Essentials Jr.’, an August spot — so what is ‘To Be’?   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.18 at 23:10
Current mood: anxiousanxious

carole lombard to be or not to be 54b front

We’re running that rare publicity photo of Carole Lombard and Jack Benny because the film it’s promoting, “To Be Or Not To Be” (that pose of them certainly isn’t from the movie), will be part of TCM’s Sunday night summer “Essentials Jr.” series this year. That in itself is welcome; what makes it especially interesting is when it’s scheduled — Aug. 10. And August, as any TCM fan knows, is the month for…

tcm summer under the stars 01b

…”Summer Under The Stars,” for many TCM buffs the most eagerly awaited event of the year…31 days of 24-hour cinematic salutes to a particular star.

Lombard’s been a two-time honoree (Aug. 17, 2006 and Aug. 28, 2011; the latter also featured her as part of “Essentials Jr.” with “My Man Godfrey”). Could she be in line for a third appearance?

If it were to happen, TCM probably would want to run a slightly different slate of her films from 2011…and let’s face facts: Lombard lived relatively briefly, so her cinematic output is somewhat limited. However, there are quite a few movies of hers that as of yet have been inaccessible to TCM.

Perhaps the most prominent is 1940′s “They Knew What They Wanted,” which was part of TV packages in the late 1980s and had a videocassette release via RKO but hasn’t been on TV for decades or been issued on domestic DVD. The problem likely lies with legal hassles with the estate of Sidney Howard, who wrote the play it’s based on in the mid-1920s. Pathe’s “Big News,” from 1929, also has never appeared on TCM; it was directed by Gregory La Cava seven years before “Godfrey.” And Fox has 1930′s “The Arizona Kid,” where Lombard has a supporting role. (I’m not even sure if that’s ever aired on Fox Movie Channel.)

There are quite a few other Carole movies that have yet to appear on TCM, and most hail from her early years at Paramount. (The only film from that studio that was shown in her SUTS day in 2011 was “Hands Across The Table.”) They include the likes of “Safety In Numbers”…

carole lombard safety in numbers 104a

…”It Pays To Advertise”…

carole lombard it pays to advertise 13a

…”No One Man”…

carole lombard no one man 22b

…and “From Hell To Heaven”:

carole lombard from hell to heaven 05b sidney blackmer

None are masterpieces, but all at least have historical value.

Universal controls the rights to most pre-1948 Paramount product, probably including all the movies she made there; until recently, it did relatively little with its films from that era, but in recent months it’s followed the lead of the Warner Archive and has began issuing old, somewhat obscure Paramount (and Universal) releases via the video-on-demand format. While none have been Lombard titles, they now may be available for TCM to run. (One Paramount title not owned by Universal is 1931′s “I Take This Woman,” where Carole’s co-star is Gary Cooper. A 16 mm print was found, restored and shown a few times in theaters, but it’s yet to be on video or TV.)

All this is conjecture, of course. It’s entirely possible TCM could be running 24 hours of Benny, who made a lot of films in addition to his groundbreaking radio work. Or TCM could throw us a curve and have this be part of 24 hours of Robert Stack, a supporting player here but a significant star during the 1940s and ’50s.

We’ll find out soon enough. TCM’s schedule for August — and the 2014 SUTS lineup — should be known to the public by the end of April. For now, stay tuned.

Oh, and here’s the complete “Essentials Jr.” list (it’s 14 nights this summer, since there are five Sundays during June and August), again with Bill Hader as host:

* June 1: Bringing Up Baby (1938)
* June 8: The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
* June 15: The Yearling (1947)
* June 22: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956, American version)
* June 29: A Kid for Two Farthings (1955)
* July 6: Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
* July 13: The Little Princess (1939)
* July 20: Silent Comedy Shorts –- Laurel & Hardy in “Two Tars” (1928); Harold Lloyd in “Never Weaken” (1921); Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton in “Coney Island” (1917); and Charlie Chaplin in “The Immigrant” (1917)
* July 27: Cat People (1942)/The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
* Aug. 3: How Green Was My Valley (1941)
* Aug. 10: To Be or Not to Be (1942)
* Aug. 17: Lifeboat (1944)
* Aug. 24: The Maltese Falcon (1941)
* Aug. 31: Shane (1953)

Posted April 18, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Four photos, speak of {‘Up Pops) The Devil’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.17 at 21:09
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard up pops the devil 34b

“Up Pops The Devil” is among an array of programmers Paramount cast up-and-coming player Carole Lombard in during the first few months of 1931. It’s never received any sort of official video or DVD release, nor has it shown up on YouTube. Thankfully, several vintage stills from the film now are up for sale at eBay, all for $13.99 each such as the one above showing Carole with Norman Foster; it’s at×10-Photo-Carole-Lombard-Up-Pops-the-Devil-Paramount-Picture-1931-77-/310933056419?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item48650deba3.

Here’s another image, which appears to be from the same scene in the movie:

carole lombard up pops the devil 35b

It’s at×10-Photo-Up-Pops-the-Devil-Carole-Lombard-1931-79-/310933056412?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item48650deb9c.

Lombard’s looking sternly at Lilyan Tashman and Foster in this pic:

carole lombard up pops the devil 33b

Find it at×10-Photo-Carole-Lombard-Up-Pops-the-Devil-Paramount-1931-70-/261455191045?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cdff19c05.

And finally, here’s Carole, dressed to the nines by 1931 standards, in apparently some sort of comedic scene:

carole lombard up pops the devil 32b

To purchase or learn more, visit×10-Photo-Carole-Lombard-Up-Pops-the-Devil-1931-74-/310933056408?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item48650deb98.

“Up Pops The Devil” is among several Lombard films I have yet to see, and these photos make me yearn to see it all the more.


Posted April 17, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized


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