California, here he comes   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.05 at 00:43
Current mood: excitedexcited

carole lombard poolside 00a

Unless I’m fantasizing (or hallucinating), I won’t be seeing Carole Lombard poolside in a few days. I will, however, be in the town she called home for more than a quarter-century of her life (save for some brief time in Beverly Hills), as come Monday, I’ll arrive in Los Angeles and stay there for slightly more than a week.

My primary purpose while there will be to look for an apartment in hopes of moving there sometime later this year as a base for researching film history, something I vowed to do soon after 2014 began ( I’ve already lined up one interview for a vacancy and hope to learn about several others in a few neighborhoods I’m interested in.

But while much of my time will be spent finding a place to relocate, that doesn’t mean I can’t mix in a little pleasure with business.

tcm classic film festival night 00

The TCM Classic Film Festival, occurring at roughly the same time as the channel’s 20th anniversary, will take place only blocks from my hotel, and while I haven’t arranged a pass, I hope to attend some of the films as a standby. Cross my fingers and see how it goes — and if you’re going, and I know Kimberly Truhler of GlamAmor will be there…

kimberly truhler tcm classic film festival 2012

…please say hello; it should be plenty of fun.

And when I’m not relaxing with movies, I have another passion…

los angeles dodger stadium night 00

…baseball. I intend to catch a game at Dodger Stadium, and perhaps also trek over to Angel Stadium in Anaheim:

angel stadium 00

Haven’t seen a game at either ballpark in 18 years.

Because of this trip, I may at times miss a day or two of entries…but I’ll try not to. If I do, please understand.

Posted April 4, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

The aural unveiling of William Powell   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.04 at 19:14
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard man of the world 11d

A few months after working with William Powell on “Man Of The World” in early 1931, Carole Lombard married him, no doubt entranced by his urbane voice. Powell, as Roger Ebert would describe decades later, “is to diction what Fred Astaire is to dance.”

But few moviegoers were aware of that voice unless they had seen Powell perform on the stage; in silent cinema, his persona was distinctly different, more often than not that of a villain. Here’s the story of the film that changed his career forever, thanks to the excellent site Greenbriar Picture Shows (, which presents plenty of marketing background behind classic Hollywood.

interference 00

Paramount entered the all-talking field with the premiere of “Interference” at the famed Carthay Circle theater in Los Angeles on Nov. 5, 1928, the day before the presidential election between Republican Herbert Hoover and Democrat Al Smith and a mere 3 1/2 months since Warners’ “Lights Of New York” became the first all-talkie release. (It was a huge success despite being a poor film, throwing all of Hollywood into turmoil.) As relatively few theaters, nearly all of them big-city picture palaces, had been wired for sound, Paramount — which initially planned to issue “Interference” solely as a silent — decided to give it dialogue as well. A story in Motion Picture News from October 1928 gave an idea of the difference between a silent and sound treatment:

interference 01a

The director of the silent version was Lothar Mendes, whom later would direct Powell and Lombard in “Ladies’ Man” and whose later credits included “The Man Who Could Work Miracles.” Handling the sound version was someone with a respected background — Roy Pomeroy, technical director for “The Ten Commandments” in 1923 who also assisted on films such as “Wings.” In fact, he was among the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He had gone east to learn more about sound from Western Electric officials, and once Pomeroy returned, he was given the assignment.

Pomeroy may have been a fine technical director, but as far as helming a motion picture was concerned, he was out of his league. This nearly four-minute segment from “Interference” will make that evident; even by early silent standards, it’s primitive and creaky:

interference 02

This by itself wasn’t a revelation about Powell’s rich speaking voice, as it’s obvious his style is stymied by the film’s slow pace. His co-star in that scene, Evelyn Brent, won most of the plaudits at the time. However, the other female with a starring role, Doris Kenyon, who had been a silent leading lady of some renown, even working opposite Rudolph Valentino (in fact, Doris Day, who turned 90 yesterday, was named Doris in her honor at birth), fell out of favor in talkies, largely unable to restrain her silent-style movement on screen, and wouldn’t return to film until 1930, when she took much smaller roles. Powell’s not in this six-minute clip, but Brent, Kenyon and Clive Brook are:

Paramount quickly realized Powell’s pipes could make him believable as characters beyond rogues, and in his next film, “The Canary Murder Case,” he made the first of his four appearances as detective Philo Vance. By late 1928 standards, “Interference” indeed was a step forward in sound, for which the film press praised Paramount:

interference 03a
interference 04a

Oh, and note that the Eddie Cantor and Ruth Etting performances in New York were on film, not the stage.

As for Pomeroy, he got his comeuppance. He successfully coerced Paramount to raise his salary tenfold, from $250 to $2,500 per week. When he tried to increase it to $3,500 per week in the wake of the success of “Interference,” Paramount figured it could teach its actual directors the ins and outs of filming talkies and Pomeroy became yesterday’s news. He would direct only two more films before his death at age 55 in 1947.

“Interference” survives and was part of the 1958 Paramount film package for TV syndication, but has never received an official video release.

Posted April 4, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Until it happens, this’ll have to do   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.03 at 09:36
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

carole lombard run, girl, run 01c
carole lombard matchmaking mamma 07f
carole lombard the campus vamp 15a front large

One area of Carole Lombard’s career that’s frustrating to research is her Mack Sennett period. Unlike the rest of her silent-era output, nearly all her films from this era have survived; that’s the good news. The bad news is that relatively few are in circulation, and they’ve yet to be assembled into some sort of set (the list of what’s on hand is at A handful of shorts are available, but they either haven’t been restored or they haven’t been put forth for mass theatrical or video viewings. (It is believed all of Carole’s Sennett work is now in the public domain.)

From top, “Run, Girl, Run,” “Matchmaking Mamma” and “The Campus Vamp” all have been used as extras for Lombard’s public domain features such as “Nothing Sacred” — but finding them is a hit-and-miss affair. Now, all three have been put into a separate DVD:

carole lombard the silent comedies 00a

The seller at least is honest. From the eBay description:

“This vintage public domain material has not been restored or digitally-enhanced; flaws (flips, skips, graininess, static, audio/visual uneveness, etc.) are inherent in material of this age, which has often been subjected to years of neglect. Please be realistic in your expectations and understand that the sheer rarity of this title far outweighs any quality issues.

“This disc consists entirely of public domain material and is in full compliance with The Berne Act. Released between January 1, 1928 and December 31, 1929 – entered public domain on or before December 31, 2009. Intended for the serious film collector; no rights given or implied.

“All of our discs are Region 1 (US & Canada) in the DVD-R format — please consult your disc player’s user manual to ensure compatibility before bidding. In the rare instance you receive a defective disc, we will send a replacement at our expense.”

You can bid on this item, starting at $9.99; the auction is scheduled to end at 7:56 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. Or you can buy it straight up for $15. Bid, buy or learn more at And hope that someday, the Sennett segment of Carole’s career is collected into a set worthy of both comedic legends.

Posted April 3, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole and Cary, kissing for Cromwell   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.02 at 08:35
Current mood: productiveproductive

carole lombard in name only 34a front

Whom do you envy more: Carole Lombard, for passionately kissing Cary Grant, or Grant, for doing likewise with Lombard? (Either way, we all should be so lucky.) Director John Cromwell isn’t taking sides in this debate — he’s watching the pair go at it, making sure it’s a successful take for RKO’s “In Name Only,” the second film of Carole’s he directed in 1939 (the first was “Made For Each Other” at Selznick International).

This is the front side of an original 7″ x 9″ photo available at eBay; we know it’s original because the back has markings, including a snipe from that inimitable RKO publicity office typewriter indicating it was third in a sequence:

carole lombard in name only 34a back

We see it ran on page 5 of the Sept. 10, 1939 Minneapolis Star-Journal Sunday rotogravure section. (Incidentally, it’s being reported that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- whose lineage dates back to the Star-Journal and rival Tribune -- has been purchased by the owner of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.) The photo was taken by Alex Kahle, who took a number of Lombard portraits during her two-year tenure at RKO.

Bidding on this relatively rare image begins at $9.99, and the auction is scheduled to close at 11:02 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To get in on the action, go to

As it happens, a lobby card reproduction of that scene, albeit from a different angle, also is on sale:

carole lombard in name only lobby card 03b

It measures 11″ x 14″; the print, on 100-lb. card stock, is taken directly from the original image. Bids start at $8.99, closing at 9:29 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday. If you’re interested, visit×14-LC-print-1933-/161265934896?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258c32e230.

Posted April 2, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Hollywood’s in San Diego, and Lombard’s a puppet   1 comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.01 at 22:12
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard nothing sacred opening credits 01a

No, this isn’t a joke in the waning hours of April Fool’s Day, although as you can see, Carole Lombard was animated (sort of) for the Technicolor opening credits of “Nothing Sacred.” But more than two years before that film’s release in November 1937, Carole apparently was reproduced in puppet form down the coast in San Diego, a town she and other filmland notables knew well, if only because it was the gateway to Mexico and Agua Caliente, where during Prohibition days, movie people could legally not only drink alcohol, but bet on horse races. (The former became legal in California in late 1933, the latter in 1934.)

We have proof of her puppet status from a story in Motion Picture Daily on July 15, 1935 about the California Pacific International Exhibition, held at what now is known as Balboa Park:

carole lombard motion picture daily 071535b

Lombard, George Raft and Sally Rand…might we have been able to witness a puppet “Bolero”? (That very concept boggles the mind.)

Were these puppets of Carole, George, Sally, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers and others scaled down or life-sized? (I’m guessing the latter; I’m also guessing the revue was changed after Rogers’ death in a plane crash a month later.) Alas, I’ve found no visual confirmation one way or the other — in fact, I’ve been unable to track down any images of the interior of the exhibit, called the Hollywood Motion Picture Hall of Fame. (Apparently, unlike Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame, which would be founded the following year, this had no inductees, but instead was a behind=the-scenes look at how motion pictures operate, done with the help of the Screen Actors Guild.)

The magazine California Garden gave this description of the exhibit:

“The Hollywood Motion Picture Hall of Fame contains the story of the motion picture, graphically presented, along with articles which made some of the stars famous such as Charlie Chaplin’s big shoes, the curls of Mary Pickford and similar items.”

Thankfully, we have several photos of the exterior of the building, which looked impressive:

san diego 1935 hollywood hall of fame 02b
san diego 1935 hollywood motion picture hall of fame 00a
san diego 1935 hollywood hall of fame 03a

We even have a color postcard of the place, although the back unfortunately discusses the buses, not what was inside:

san diego 1935 hollywood hall of fame 01b
san diego 1935 hollywood hall of fame 04a

The exhibition was a reprise of a similar fair held in San Diego two decades earlier; it was repeated in 1936, although the Motion Picture building was turned into a general entertainment exhibit (and the real-life Sally Rand performed her fan dance there).

Posted April 1, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Again, feel your oats   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.03.31 at 01:14
Current mood: weirdweird

carole lombard clark gable 031b

When Carole Lombard and Clark Gable went hunting together in search of duck or pheasant, one wonders whether they had this for breakfast on those chilly mornings in the wild:

quaker oats 1930s larger

Good old Quaker Oats, a rise-and-shine staple for generations. And a few years earlier, many Americans could have Carole and Clark “join them” for breakfast:

carole lombard quaker oats standee 2014aquaker oats standee 2014a clark gable

Yes, those 7-inch high Quaker Oats standee collectibles we discussed a few years ago ( are back, again from Cliff Aliperti at Immortal Ephemera, who’s giving his readers — and ours — a chance to claim these items before they reach eBay on Tuesday. This time around, 26 stars are available; while it’s not a complete set (there’s no Marlene Dietrich standee included, as there was in 2012), there are enough notables on hand to whet the appetite of any classic Hollywood fan (even after a hearty bowl of oatmeal).

On a budget? You can get Binnie Barnes or George Brent for $8.50 apiece:

quaker oats standee 2014a binnie barnesquaker oats standee 2014a george brent

At the other end of the spectrum are Jean Harlow, at $45, a whopping twenty bucks more than the Gable standee. (Lombard joins Myrna Loy and Joan Crawford at $24.) The only surviving member of the standee group is Olivia De Havilland, whose image is going for $14:

quaker oats standee 2014a jean harlowquaker oats standee 2014a olivia de havilland

Information on the Lombard standee is at!/~/product/category=9089644&id=35404824. To learn about the entire set, visit!/~/category/id=9089644&inview=product35404824&offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc.

Finally, today marks opening day for 25 of the 30 teams in major league baseball (the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona and San Diego have already began their seasons, and the New York Yankees open at Houston Tuesday night). As a Washington Nationals fan, I’m excited about today’s opener in New York against the Mets. Although the Nats finished 86-76 to give D.C. its first back-to-back winning seasons in MLB in 80 years (okay, that includes a 33-year absence of baseball), it was a disappointment following an NL East title in 2012. With a new manager in Matt Williams and several good off-season trades, this should be a hungrier team wearing the curly “W” this summer.

And going from Quaker to a quake, in case you haven’t seen this video clip, it’s fascinating, and yet another example of Vin Scully as the man who’s seen everything. During his 65 years doing Dodgers games in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, he’s broadcast games everywhere from Boston’s long-vanished Braves Field (from 1950 to 1952) to Australia (two games just over a week ago). Friday night, Dodger Stadium played host to the exhibition Freeway Series against the Angels, and during the sixth inning things began shaking…and no, not from the sound system, but from what turned out to be a 5.1 (downgraded from the 5.3 Scully initially stated). No damage was reported — in fact, judging from fan reaction, few felt it in the ballpark — but it was noticeable at the press box level, and without missing a beat, Scully calmly described the atmosphere. Listen to a master at work.

Posted March 31, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Looking back: March 1934   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.03.30 at 13:13
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard p1202-646c

Just as Carole Lombard stretched out her arms for this pose in Paramount p1202-646, so was she stretching — both professionally and personally — in March 1934, about the time this portrait was taken. Now more than half a year following her divorce from William Powell, Lombard was asserting herself as a woman on her own…and for a Hollywood leading lady, that meant finding her own house. Carole briefly resided in Beverly Hills, but in early 1934, she decided on a new abode — a Hollywood Boulevard home that would become identified with this, the most vivacious period of her life.

And according to a story the Winnipeg Tribune ran on March 3, this home was awash in a personality indicative of her hair shade:

carole lombard 030334 winnipeg tribunecarole lombard 030334a winnipeg tribune

carole lombard hollywood boulevard home 00b

It’s worth noting that William Haines, the interior decorator in question, is not identified here. Perhaps at this time he was still identified as an actor, and author Mollie Merrick didn’t want to discuss why Haines no longer was in acting (hint: it had something to do with his rather open homosexuality).

Meanwhile, Carole was working on “Twentieth Century” with the esteemed John Barrymore at Columbia, and no longer was intimidated by his status, as her self-confidence was growing. Proof can be found in this blurb from the March 2 Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner:

carole lombard 030234 ogden standard-examiner

A different Lombard was developing, one no longer hemmed in by conventions of being an “actress.” Some of that still could be seen in her latest film, “Bolero”…

carole lombard 032234 winnipeg tribune

…and in a review of it that ran March 8 in, of all places, a small newspaper in north-central Iowa, the Algona-based Kossuth County Advance:

carole lombard 030834 kossuth county advance
carole lombard 030834a kossuth county advance

“Effective in some scenes, quite useless in others” — certainly not taken verbatim from a Paramount press release! (If it was, it certainly wouldn’t misspell George Raft’s last name as “Raff” multiple times.) Aside from large metropolitan dailies, few papers at the time bothered to post original movie reviews, either out of lack of time (or laziness) or a reluctance to upset theater owners or studios and risk losing advertising.

The same day that review ran, a syndicated column appearing in the Sandusky Register in Ohio pulled the curtain behind a major cinematic secret…dubbing singing voices:

carole lombard 030834 sandusky register

“Betty [Rome] can sing throaty-like, in the Carole Lombard fashion, and has.” But does this mean she sang for Lombard?

Newspapers tended to run press releases from studios to fill up space. On March 25, the Sandusky paper ran these five briefs, all from Paramount, without noting that fact:

carole lombard 032534 sandusky register

Much of Carole’s popularity was due to her physical attributes. We’re all familiar with the Lombard legs and face, but what about…her shoulders? Illustrator Willy Pogany praised them in a piece from Hearst’s International News Service and run on the March 30 Indiana (Pa.) Gazette:

carole lombard 033034 indiana gazette

Little did their readers realize that over the next half-decade, one of their native sons would be rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with Lombard and several other stars listed. That native son was James Stewart, of course.

Carole reportedly played some basketball in her youth, and while she wasn’t prepared to suit up again, she was among the stars who helped purchase uniforms for the (presumably all-male) Paramount studio team. We learned this from the March 28 Ottawa Journal in the Canadian capital:

carole lombard 032834 ottawa journal

Finally, the post-divorce dating relationship between Lombard and her ex, William Powell, now was well known — to the point where it became the element of jokes, such as this one from the March 31 Harrisburg (Pa.) Telegraph:

carole lombard 033134a harrisburg telegraph

Incidentally, I should note I’ve found another source to use for vintage Lombard news. In addition to the Newspaper Archive (, I’m now using, which has a slightly different array of newspapers, including the famed Brooklyn Daily Eagle where my grandfather once worked (and no, he was not a film critic). Both services have subscription fees.

Posted March 30, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers