Archive for September 2012

For Lombard fans next August, there’s no place like Rome   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.30 at 01:11

Current mood: pleasedpleased

carole lombard show folks 00d
And to get there (if you’re an American citizen), you won’t need a passport or have to convert your dollars into lire. We’re talking Rome, N.Y., the upstate town where “Show Folks” (seen above), was shown in 2008 at Capitolfest, an annual three-day summer weekend event that celebrates silent and pre-Code films (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/122832.html).
.rome ny capitol theatre 05a
rome ny capitol theatre capitolfest 2013 logo
The good — heck, make that great -- news for Lombard fans is that Carole will be the “tribute star” at Capitolfest 11, slated for Aug. 9 to 11. This was announced last month at the close of Capitolfest 10, and I wish I’d heard the news sooner.As for what Lombard films (and just about everything at Capitolfest is on film, though it has plans to acquire a digital projector in ensuing months) will be shown as part of the festival, it’s too soon to tell. As Capitolfest shows both silents and talkies (the Capitol, built in 1928, has had a 3-manual, 10-rank Möller grand theatre organ, restored 10 years ago), perhaps a few of her Mack Sennett comedies will be shown. Capitolfest has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Capitolfest-CNYs-35mm-Silent-and-Early-Talkie-Film-Festival/124103114276989?ref=stream), and suggestions are sought from the classic film-going public. A few folks have asked for “It Pays To Advertise,” and at least one person would like to see “Supernatural.”

So, what Lombard films from the silent/pre-Code era would you want on the program? (While I don’t have a complete list of Capitolfest screenings over the past decade, I believe that “Virtue” ran in 2004.) So, we’re going to conduct a poll.

Poll #1869550 “Carole & Co.” Capitolfest 11 poll
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 0
Which Carole Lombard film would you most like to see at Capitolfest 11?

“Big News”
“The Arizona Kid”
“Safety In Numbers”
“Fast And Loose”
“It Pays To Advertise”
“Up Pops The Devil”
“Ladies’ Man”
“I Take This Woman”
“No One Man”
“Sinners In The Sun”
“No More Orchids”
“No Man Of Her Own”
“From Hell To Heaven”
“Supernatural”
“Bolero”

A maximum of 15 choices were allowed, and aside from “No Man Of Her Own,” I don’t believe any of them have received an official video or DVD release. (For WordPress users to participate in the poll, visit http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/547291.html.)

To learn more about Capitolfest — an event that’s drawn plenty of plaudits from the classic film community over the years — visit http://www.romecapitol.com/capitolfest.html.

carole lombard p1202-98b

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Posted September 30, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A toast to Carole, with a shot of Ginger   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.29 at 08:59

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard brief moment 07c

79 years ago today, Carole Lombard’s Columbia film “Brief Moment” was making its way across theaters…and if you went to a newsstand and thumbed through the October 1933 issue of Movie Classic, you could find this picture of Carole, as well as a blurb on the film and her new divorcee status:

carole lombard movie classic october 1933c

The cover featured a star we tend to remember as a blonde, particularly in black and white film, but this Marland Stone portrait reminds us that Ginger Rogers’ hair was very reddish:

movie classic oct 1933 ginger rogers cover largemovie classic oct 1933 ginger rogers 00b

There are other goodies inside, such as these photos of Greta Garbo, who rarely played the studio publicity game, reuniting with John Gilbert for “Queen Christina”:

movie classic oct 1933 queen christina large

And, of course, there are the advertisements. Rare was the movie fan magazine of that era that didn’t have a Lux ad; in this one, Jean Harlow extols Lux for care of her stockings, showing off her lovely legs as proof:

movie classic oct 1933 jean harlow lux ad large

Plus, there are ads for movies. In addition to “Brief Moment,” Columbia was garnering praise (and profits) with Frank Capra’s “Lady For A Day”…

movie classic oct 1933 lady for a day ad large

…Warners promoted “I Loved A Woman” with Edward G. Robinson and Kay Francis (note the pose for this love scene — even in her stocking feet, Kay towered over Eddie)…

movie classic oct 1933 i loved a woman ad large

…and opposite the introduction page, Paramount advertised several films, none of them Carole’s:

movie classic oct 1933 introduction large

As you may have guessed by now, this vintage magazine is now available through eBay. According to the seller, it has “some mild wear and some wear on the edges and binding,” but otherwise is in decent shape. It can be yours, although it will cost at least $149.99, because that’s the minimum bid — bidding closes at 4:52 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. If you’d like to bid, or are merely curious, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/MOVIE-CLASSICS-MAGAZINE-1933-GINGER-ROGERS-CAROLE-LOMBARD-JEAN-HARLOW-/380478462077?pt=Magazines&hash=item589648987d.

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Posted September 29, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A ‘Rumba’ in triplicate   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.28 at 10:23

Current mood: energeticenergetic

“Rumba” lacked the fire of “Bolero,” the previous Carole Lombard-George Raft dance collaboration (one suspects the strict enforcement of the Production Code had something to do with it), but three photographic artifacts from that 1935 film are now available via eBay.

Two of them are Lombard portraits in Paramount’s p1202 series, both of which have snipes on the back. We’ll begin with p1202-907:

carole lombard p1202-907a front
carole lombard p1202-907b back

Note the film is initially titled “Rhumba” (Paramount soon decided to drop the “h”), and that this was issued in the fall of 1934, while the movie was in production. Colorizers, note that beige and burgundy are the predominant colors to Carole’s outfit, though I’m not certain whether it appeared in the movie.

The next portrait, p1202-916, isn’t new to our eyes, but the snipe is:

carole lombard p1202-916b front
carole lombard p1202-916a back

This one’s a study in black and white crepe.

Now a pose of Lombard and Raft dancing; the back notes that “Rumba” (now sans ‘h”) will appear at the Metropolitan Theatre Feb. 8 (which in 1935 indeed fell on a Friday). Have no idea in what city the “Metropolitan” was located.

carole lombard rumba 22a front
carole lombard rumba 22a back

The same seller is handling all three items. The Lombard-Raft photo is in very good to excellent condition, and can be bought straight up for $159.95 or bid on; the latter option requires a minimum bid of $139.95, with bids closing at 10:34 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday. Bid or learn more at http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-IN-EXOTIC-COSTUME-GEORGE-RAFT-IN-1935-RUMBA-GREAT-PHOTO-/180983980210?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a237c60b2.

P1202-907 is listed in excellent condition. The purchase price is $89.95, while the minimum bid is $79.95, in which case bids will close at 10:34 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. Interested? Visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/LOVELY-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GLAMOR-FASHION-PHOTO-EXC-COND-1935-RUMBA-W-RAFT-/180983321311?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a237252df.

As for p1202-916, it’s in very good condition, with a “buy it now” price of $99.95 and a minimum bid of $89.95. For the latter, bids close at 10:39 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. Check it out at http://www.ebay.com/itm/GORGEOUS-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GLAMOR-FASHION-1935-PHOTO-RUMBA-DIED-TOO-YOUNG-/320990916946?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4abc8cb152.

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Posted September 28, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Paramount centennial blogathon: For Carole, seven years, 22 films   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.27 at 01:43

Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

carole lombard paramount personality poster 00a large

Above is Carole Lombard in what Paramount Pictures called a “personality poster” — measuring 14″ x 17″, it was something theaters used to promote stars and add ambience to the lobby or foyer. Lombard signed with Paramount in mid-1930, and would remain with the studio through the end of 1937.

carole lombard p1202-1162d

Carole entered Paramount a struggling starlet who had recently been dismissed from Pathe, probably for too closely resembling new hire Constance Bennett; she left it a full-fledged star, gaining a palatial dressing room among other benefits, and was one of the movie industry’s most popular actresses. And yet, it could be argued that Paramount had very little to do with Lombard’s ascension to the top rank.

What are the four films most associated with Carole? “Twentieth Century” (Columbia), “My Man Godfrey” (Universal), “Nothing Sacred” (Selznick International) and “To Be Or Not To Be” (United Artists). None were made at Paramount; she had no equivalent of Marlene Dietrich’s “Shanghai Express,” Claudette Colbert’s “Cleopatra” or Miriam Hopkins’ “Trouble In Paradise” at her home base. In many ways, Lombard’s Paramount period is a study in frustration, as neither the studio nor, for a time, Carole herself realized what potential resided in this sleek blonde.

paramount centennial blogathon 00a

As part of the Paramount Centennial Blogathon hosted by The Hollywood Revue (http://hollywoodrevue.wordpress.com), here are my thoughts on some of Lombard’s 22 movies made for Paramount. Rather than examine them chronologically, I’ll look at them in a variety of categories. Ready? Here goes.

carole lombard hands across the table 00a

* Best – “Hands Across The Table” (1935). As stated earlier, none of Carole’s Paramount films are considered on the same plateau as her “big four,” but this comedy, co-starring Fred MacMurray and directed by Mitchell Leisen, comes pretty close and is generally put on a second tier with “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and one or two other titles. At first envisioned as a Colbert vehicle (that Lombard was considered for that kind of role showed how her status had risen in Hollywood after “Twentieth Century”), Carole makes it her own with humor, warmth and a sexual tension with MacMurray that was rare for a post-Code comedy. (Indeed, MacMurray would be Lombard’s leading man for her next, and final, three films at the studio.) Ernst Lubitsch, briefly Paramount’s head of production, exercised care with this project, and it showed.

carole lombard no one man 14b

* Worst – “No One Man” (1932), with honorable (?) mention to “Rumba” (1935). I’ve not seen either, but opinions from those I respect place these two at the bottom. “No One Man” was the first film of Carole’s at Paramount where she played the lead role, and if some of her other performances of the time are indicative, she likely wasn’t ready. And any movie that produces the above publicity still, with Lombard between Ricardo Cortez and Paul Lukas, must be pretty dire (is she auditioning to become an NFL replacement official?).

carole lombard supernatural 19a

* Most anomalous – “Supernatural” (1933). What’s a nice girl like Carole doing in hokum like this? Well, at the time, she really hadn’t set herself apart from any of Paramount’s stable of starlets, so she was assigned to a genre she was obviously uncomfortable with (and one she never wanted to work in again). The funny thing is, her performance isn’t half bad; she gives it all she has, even though she ran the risk of being stuck as a horror queen (one fan magazine tried to label her the “Sheba of Shivers”). The film is no classic, but has its moments.

carole lombard swing high, swing low 11a

* Most musical – “Swing High, Swing Low” (1937). This is the closest Carole got to starring in a genuine musical, and the only movie where she actually sings rather than being dubbed. (It’s MacMurray -- a real-life jazz saxophonist before moving into acting — who’s dubbed here as a trumpet player.) People liked this movie; it was Paramount’s biggest money-maker of 1937, and yet no full-length 35mm print of it survives. Which brings us to our next category…

carole lombard i take this woman 24a

* Rarest – “I Take This Woman” (1931). Had a 16mm print of this movie not been given to author Mary Roberts Rinehart, whose novel “Lost Ecstasy” was adapted into this film, this collaboration between Carole and Gary Cooper would be lost to history. It was restored nearly a dozen years ago, and has since been shown a handful of times at repertory houses, but it’s not been made available on DVD or telecast on Turner Classic Movies. Given the stars are two Hollywood legends, each with legions of fans, that’s bewildering.

carole lombard safety in numbers 98b

* Most clad in lingerie – “Safety In Numbers” (1930). Looking for work following her Pathe dismissal, Lombard freelanced for a bit, making a movie at Fox before answering the call for a decorative supporting part in this Buddy Rogers romp. Hired for her sex appeal (Carole had, after all, been a Mack Sennett bathing beauty), she added texture to a stereotypical role. Director Victor Schertzinger recommended Paramount sign her to a contract, and it did. “Safety In Numbers” was Lombard’s first film at Paramount; her last had a special quality of its own…

carole lombard true confession 03a

* Most divisive – “True Confession” (1937). Perhaps no film of Lombard’s generates more intense debate regarding its quality than this, her swan song at Paramount. There are those who would place it alongside “Hands Across The Table” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” in her second tier; others, most notably Leonard Maltin, don’t think much of it at all. Despite MacMurray’s presence, it’s a film that more celebrates zaniness than romance, and for some, it’s simply too screwy. But any movie that features John Barrymore (hired, and billed third, at Carole’s behest), not to mention the always-reliable Una Merkel in her trademark role of heroine’s best friend, has something going to it.

carole lombard fast and loose 06b henry wadsworth

* Least “Hollywood” – “Fast And Loose” (1930). While the story certainly holds true to Hollywood tradition, where it was filmed wasn’t. This would be Lombard’s only film at Paramount’s Astoria studios in Queens, N.Y., a facility Paramount would shut down the following year, for economic and other reasons. (Most of the Broadway actors who sought film careers had moved west.)

carole lombard white woman 36

* Most over-the-top – “White Woman” (1933). Susan Sontag was born in January 1933, but here was a movie that defined “camp” some three decades before she popularized the term. It’s steamy but hardly sensual, as Charles Laughton chews the scenery like a dog with a bone toy and Lombard senses the entire story is absurd but can do little to stop it from being that way. Her next film, also in the waning months of pre-Code, took advantage of its relaxed approach…

carole lombard bolero 40b

* Sexiest – “Bolero” (1934). This film could also qualify as “most anachronistic,” as it takes place several years before Maurice Ravel penned the classical composition in 1928. But Carole’s scene, where she strips down to lingerie and stockings to show off her dancing ability (and perhaps other skills as well) to dancer George Raft, lets us see Lombard in a light that audiences would be denied as of mid-1934. A few years ago, one writer said of this scene that any man who saw it must have been convinced that Carole was one of the best lays in the world (it is believed Raft learned this firsthand). See it and judge for yourself.

carole lombard the princess comes across 28d

* Most confusing – “The Princess Comes Across” (1936). For the second Lombard-MacMurray collaboration, Paramount officials apparently couldn’t decide whether this was to be a straight romantic comedy or a murder-mystery. The final result is a little of each, and not entirely satisfying. It’s hardly a bad movie, but it had the potential to be so much more. Perhaps this movie is also a microcosm of Carole’s seven years at Paramount.

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Posted September 27, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Lombard, by a nose (and more)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.26 at 06:54

Current mood: amusedamused

Carole Lombard met, knew and was photographed with many fellow celebrities during her brief lifetime, but when you see her with someone for the first time, it’s a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Take the following photo, for instance. Flanking Carole on one side is Jack Oakie, a bit unrecognizable in a mustache, but on the other…

carole lombard jimmy durante jack oakie 00a front

…Jimmy Durante.

No date is listed for this photo, but from Lombard’s appearance and the relatively youthful Durante, I’m guessing it to be from 1933. This would have been about the time Jimmy was making a series of comedies at MGM with Buster Keaton, a teaming that really never quite jelled. Durante would have many future triumphs, particularly his beloved nightclub act.

While we don’t know when this was taken, we do know where:

carole lombard jimmy durante jack oakie 00a back

It was at Gary Cooper’s house, at a party thrown in honor of Mr. & Mrs. John Hay Whitney. (Mr. Whitney was a major investor in Technicolor, and would be one of the backers in Lombard’s Technicolor comedy “Nothing Sacred.”) Coop and Carole were briefly an item following her divorce from William Powell, though the affair never amounted to anything.

This rare, original press wire photo measures 8″ x 10″. One bid, for $9.99, has been made as of this writing; bidding is scheduled to end at 9:58 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. If you’re interested, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Movie-Stars-Carole-Lombard-Jimmy-Durante-Jack-Oakie-Party-Original-Photo-/150910649381?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2322f9c425.

The same seller has this Lombard rarity, taken Dec. 17, 1937, on the set of “Fools For Scandal”; in fact, it’s so early in the shoot that the snipe refers to the film by its initial name, “Food For Scandal”:

carole lombard fools for scandal 121737 mervyn leroy fernand gravet 00a front
carole lombard fools for scandal 121737 mervyn leroy fernand gravet 00b back

Carole’s in between director Mervyn LeRoy and co-star Fernand Gravet, as all wait for electricians to set up lighting. When “Fools” came out some months later, Lombard learned many people preferred to read newspapers than go see this misfire of a movie.

No one has bid on this item yet; the minimum bid is $9.99 and bidding closes at 9:33 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. You can find out more at http://www.ebay.com/itm/1937-Fools-for-Scandal-Movie-Star-Carole-Lombard-Dir-Mervyn-LeRoy-Original-Photo-/150910645798?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2322f9b626.

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Posted September 26, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Picture Play, February 1931: Some thoughts from Mr. Sennett   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.25 at 00:00

Current mood: hopefulhopeful

carole lombard the girl from everywhere 00amack sennett 02a

This week marks the 100th anniversary of Mack Sennett’s first films for his Keystone studio, and some 15 years later, with Sennett now working for Pathe, Carole Lombard joined his troupe. This Thursday, several Sennett films in which she appeared will air on Turner Classic Movies as part of its centennial celebration. Specifically, the films are “Run, Girl, Run” (1928) and “Smith’s Pony” (1927) in the 11 p.m. (Eastern) bloc of two-reelers, and “Matchmaking Mamma” (1929) and “His Unlucky Night” (1928) in the 12:30 a.m. session.

Our contribution to the Sennett-fest is this article from the February 1931 Picture Play entitled “The Old Master Speaks,” written by Dorothy Wooldridge. It was written at a time when this old master’s career appeared to be in eclipse, not so much from the arrival of talkies — indeed, much of this piece shows Sennett waxing over the potential of television and contemplating its effects on the motion picture industry — but because his storytelling techniques, whether in silent or sound, seemed hoary compared to his primary competitor, Hal Roach.

Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating snapshot of a cinema pioneer, whose work will be in a restored DVD set scheduled for release in the next few months. Enjoy.

carole lombard picture play feb 1931 the old master speaks 00a
carole lombard picture play feb 1931 the old master speaks 01a
carole lombard picture play feb 1931 the old master speaks 02a

Love his comment about how Gloria Swanson would now react to being hit by a pie.

As a bonus, here’s a Lombard Sennett short that isn’t often seen these days — “The Campus Carmen” from 1928. The quality isn’t all that good, and one hopes there’s a better version of this out somewhere, but it has its moments.

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Posted September 24, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘This is a nice one,’ indeed   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.24 at 07:19

Current mood: calmcalm

carole lombard white woman 35
carole lombard white woman 38
carole lombard white woman 37

Among Carole Lombard’s films, “White Woman” was easily the most over-the-top. A 1933 melodrama set in the jungles of what was then called Malaya, Charles Laughton chews the scenery, and the rest of the cast either follows suit or does nothing to stop him. Carole suffered a laceration arm at the hands of a chimpanzee and likely yearned for another loanout to Columbia (where Harry Cohn, for all his faults, gave her good stories and production values) instead of enduring one more programmer back home at Paramount.

But “White Woman” has one virtue (the pun for Carole’s first Columbia film is semi-intentional): Lombard looks incredibly alluring, particularly in a pre-Code setting where she could get away with things that would be deemed verboten less than a year later. For example, take this photo from Eugene Robert Richee, p1202-607, where she’s shown in a gown so sheer an outline of nipple is visible:

carole lombard p1202-607b eugene robert richee

That same session, in the same form-fitting gown, produced this shot, p1202-613. However, note here that Lombard and Richee played it relatively safe, using a train of satin to distract from Carole’s chest and focus attention on her sleek, supple figure:

carole lombard p1202-613c

An original 8″ x 10″ negative of p1202-613, in excellent condition, is being auctioned at eBay. “This is a nice one,” the seller states, and who will argue?

Given that the opening bid is $399, this item is for serious Carole collectors, and bidding ends at 10 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday. Whether you’re truly interested or merely curious, you can learn more at http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-ORIGINAL-8-x-10-STUDIO-NEGATIVE-/380475380029?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item589619913d.

We’ll leave you with an intriguing photo taken either in late 1933 or early ’34, showing Paramount patriarch Adolph Zukor with 11 of the studio’s latest starlets:

paramount new actresses adolph zukor 1934a

Top row (from left): Gwenllian Gill, Barbara Fritchie, Dorothy Dell, Evelyn Venable, Elizabeth Young, Ann Sheridan, Grace Bradley. Bottom row: Toby Wing, Charlotte Henry, Zukor, Gail Patrick, Ida Lupino.

Sheridan and Lupino would become bona fide stars, albeit not at Paramount; Patrick, Venable and Bradley had solid careers, generally as supporting players; Wing remained the perpetual chorus girl with occasional supporting parts; Henry replaced Lupino in the title role of “Alice In Wonderland” before her own career shut up like a telescope; Dell showed promise before her death at age 19 in an auto accident in June 1934; and the other three were only in a handful of films.

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Posted September 24, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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