Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.16 at 08:36
Current mood: busy
How did this subtly gorgeous image of Carole Lombard slip through the cracks of history? (I’ve never seen it before, and chances are good that you haven’t, either.) One explanation might be that this portrait ran in a fan magazine, albeit the industry’s most prestigious -- Photoplay, specifically its February 1931 issue. To complete the picture, let’s run the caption that ran below:
Yes, that trek to Hollywood in 1925 was a long one for Carole — heck, she probably had to get transfers on streetcars every now and then. (And the birth reference, “about 23 years ago,” actually came close to adding a year to her age, rather than subtracting; in early 1931, most studio biographies would have listed her as 21.)
Having much of Photoplay from the 1930s online, courtesy of the Media History Digital Library (http://mediahistoryproject.org/fanmagazines/), has been a boon to Lombard research. Today, we thought we’d examine a few things from this noted magazine during the first half of 1931, a year when Carole settled into life as a Paramount leading lady and also became a married woman near the end of June. Photoplay ran a story of Lombard’s romance with William Powell in its June 1931 issue; while we’ve run the article before (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/99012.html), this is the first time we’ve been able to display it as it actually ran:
That issue also ran a photo of Carole on the set of “Up Pops The Devil”:
Finally, something from the April issue, where fashion reporter Seymour critiqued a Lombard outfit with the headline, “I Approve 7 Fashions in this One Outfit.” (Perhaps it’s residue from the recently completed election season, but the phrase “I approve” briefly made me fearful there was PAC money behind this.)
However, Lombard doesn’t bat 1.000 here; Seymour writes, “But her hat — not so good, my dear. Its brim is all right — but its crown — too high for now.” Better luck next time, Carole.
In the near future, we’ll have a few Lombard-related items from Photoplay in the second half of 1931.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.15 at 08:45
Current mood: nostalgic
This sleek Otto Dyar portrait of Carole Lombard ran on page 33 of the March 1932 issue of Picture Play, some 13 pages after the beginning of an article in which she was one of 40 Hollywood players (“representative stars, chosen from every studio,” author Ben Maddox noted) polled regarding who was the industry’s best actor and actress.
It’s a fascinating snapshot of the Hollywood mindset in early 1932, when it was still trying to sort itself out from the upheaval talking pictures had caused several years back. If you know what moviemaking was like at this point of time, some of the results should come as no surprise, while others may throw you for a loop.
That Greta Garbo was selected top actress, with nearly twice as many as runnerup Norma Shearer, should come as no surprise; her recent triumphs laid to rest any fears that her transcendent qualities wouldn’t translate to talkies. What is surprising is that, according to Maddox, all her votes came from women — and it wasn’t studio bias, either, as Joan Crawford was the only MGM player polled to mention her. There was a four-way tie for third among Ruth Chatterton, Crawford, Marie Dressler and Ann Harding.
The voting for top actor is a bit confounding to our eyes, as honors were shared by George Arliss and Emil Jannings, both of whom in retrospect had seen better days. But their earlier performances were so well-received that each was considered a “distinguished actor,” an aura that endured in the early months of 1932. Six men, all whose stars were in the ascendant, tied for third — John Barrymore, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Jackie Cooper, Fredric March and William Powell.
Lombard selected Powell, her husband at the time…but so did Constance Bennett, who had never acted with him. While Connie compliments Colman — “The audience feels and is swayed by his shadow presence to a greater degree than by any other male star” — she called Powell “possessor of the greatest real histrionic ability.” Such comments didn’t help Bennett some four years later, when he insisted to Universal officials that ex-wife Carole, not the flighty Constance, be his female lead in “My Man Godfrey.” (Powell and Richard Barthelmess, close friends, named each other in this survey.)
Lombard’s top female star was none other than Mary Pickford, whom she had worked with in 1927 in “My Best Girl,” where Carole had a small, uncredited part. (Pickford and co-star Buddy Rogers are shown above.) Some years later, Lombard publicly expressed admiration for Mary, not just for her acting ability, but her success as a businesswoman (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/488815.html).
What’s interesting about this survey is not only who was chosen, but who wasn’t. Gloria Swanson received no votes, even though she had made a successful transition to talkies; ’20s mainstays Lillian Gish and Norma Talmadge were also blanked. Marlene Dietrich had all of one vote. And while Arliss and Jannings led the actors, and newcomer Jackie Cooper tied for third, two other men who had come to the fore in 1931, each signaling a new, more realistic acting style, were not named — Clark Gable and James Cagney. (This March ’32 issue of Picture Play ran a laudatory feature on Cagney.) Heck, Maddox didn’t even list them among actors not receiving votes, though he did name Lew Ayres, Charles Farrell, William Haines and Buddy Rogers, among others.
Lombard, still an up-and-coming star, received no votes, either…though one might wonder why in light of the caption for the photo of her we ran at the top:
Lombard was initially announced as the leading lady in “Sky Bride,” a tale of barnstorming pilots starring Richard Arlen and Jack Oakie; when it hit theaters in late April 1932, the role was played by Carole’s cohort in “Safety In Numbers,” Virginia Bruce.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.14 at 07:41
Current mood: weird
For sheer over-the-topness, no Carole Lombard movie can compete with “White Woman,” the late 1933 potboiler she made for Paramount. Top-billed Charles Laughton threw all caution to the wind in his hammy portrayal of a rubber plantation owner in Malaya, and neither Lombard (playing a lounge singer on the lam) nor the rest of the cast makes any attempt to rein him in. Someone has referred to it as “a very strange movie.”
And this someone should know, because he or she is selling it…not as a DVD, videocassette or even laser disc (as far as I know, it has never received any sort of authorized home video release), but as a 16mm print.
That’s a shot of the opening credits in this print, not long after you see this unfamiliar logo:
United World Films, Inc. was a Universal subsidiary created in 1946 to serve the budding home film market. In early 1947, it bought Castle Films, the biggest firm in that industry, and released plenty of titles in both 8mm and 16mm formats before home video rendered that irrelevant in the early ’80s. “White Woman” and many other pre-1948 Paramount titles were bought by MCA in 1957, which five years later purchased Universal.
The seller believes this print was intended for TV stations to use (though he or she apparently doesn’t know whether any of the pre-Code footage was cut from the original theatrical print), adding it’s in excellent condition. Here are four shots taken directly from the print as proof:
This is safety stock (as far as is known, no 16mm American film was issued on nitrate), and if you’re among those who collect film, this might be an intriguing add to your holdings. It won’t come cheaply, mind you; bidding begins at $299.99, with bids closing at 6:21 p.m. (Eastern) next Tuesday. You can find out more by visiting http://www.ebay.com/itm/White-Woman-Rare-16MM-Feature-Film-1933-Carole-Lombard-/130802874320?pt=US_Film&hash=item1e747577d0.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.13 at 09:52
Current mood: frustrated
This 1935 snapshot of Carole Lombard, taken by an unidentified fan, shows one element of life as a classic-era movie star…interaction with fans. It went with the territory, and Carole and her contemporaries knew it.
Here’s how we commonly think of fan-star interaction — fan mail, here sent to Anita Page (at one point in the late 1920s, she received more fan mail at MGM than any star with the exception of Greta Garbo). But it was more complex than that. Stars and their staffs (either their own or the studio’s) monitored fan mail and discerned repeat senders. Those regular writers who had genuine interest in and affection for them as people, not just as film stars, were usually respected, sometimes treasured.
Fans, of course, had favorite stars. One of the era’s movie magazines decided to turn the tables and run a piece on stars’ favorite fans. The following ran in Picture Play in its December 1932 issue, which would have gone to press roughly 80 years ago today.
Assuming most of that is on the level and not studio-supplied hyperbole, it does provide a different angle to the fan-star relationship.
The Lombard anecdote is at the end of one page and the beginning of another, so let’s isolate it for easier reading (as we’ve noted before, Picture Play stubbornly listed Lombard’s first name as “Carol” well into the 1930s):
I’m not sure whether Lombard actually saw the chairs, or she received a description and said they didn’t meet her needs. (Of course, a year later, after divorcing William Powell and finding a place of her own that needed furnishings, she might have regretted turning it down.)
While that story is new to me, it wasn’t the first time Carole’s interaction with a fan had reached print. Earlier in 1932, it was reported that an anonymous fan, without explanation, had mailed her a $1 bill each week for an entire year (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/421396.html).
It was a different time, when fan mail could bring otherworldly stars from far-off Hollywood closer to mere mortals. Working with fans (to a point) was all part of the game, and Lombard played it — even autographing snapshots of her that fans had taken days before (in the era before instant cameras), as this May 1938 image indicates:
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.12 at 16:56
Current mood: impressed
How’d you like to carry around your fondness for Carole Lombard? You now have that chance — and if you hurry, you can save a few bucks in the process.
An eBay seller based in Hong Kong is selling eight versions of a money or cigarette case, such as the one above. Each measures 4″ x 2 1/4″, and is one-half inch deep. Here’s an idea of what can fit inside:
The seller notes the photos are not stuck on or laminated; “this is superior high quality artwork protected by a heavy coating of crystal clear enamel. This makes the image amazingly vivid and virtually indestructible.”
Ordinarily, these sell for $7.99 each, but for the next three days each can be purchased for $5.99. As of this writing, there are 10 copies available of all eight images.
So what do the other seven look like? Here are two:
This one’s colorized…
…as are these two:
Finally, two with Clark Gable, both from “No Man Of Her Own”:
All eight of these — and some other Lombard items as well — can be found at http://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_odkw=&_osacat=0&_armrs=1&_ssn=svejdalandusa&_trksid=p2046732.m570.l1313&_nkw=carole+lombard&_sacat=0&_from=R40.
They look pretty stunning…case closed.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.11 at 15:40
Current mood: amused
As early as her Pathe days, Carole Lombard made her love for animals evident, through the likes of this 1929 pose with an Alaskan Malamute. Another portrait of Carole and canine was used on the cover of a 1930 European movie magazine:
The magazine, called Het Weekblad, was sold in Belgium and the Netherlands, covering cinema and theater. It measured 9″ x 11.75″, and this particular issue ran 32 pages and also featured photos of Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert and several European stars. The back cover featured Lilian Harvey and her…
The seller, from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, notes this was once part of a bound volume, which explains some of the loose pages. Nevertheless, it’s in good condition, and the front and back covers are suitable for framing.
One bid has already been made for this, at $6.95; bids close at 6:11 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday. If this is something you’d like to add to your collection, go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/1930-Art-Deco-Silent-Film-Theatre-magazine-Carol-Lombard-/230879958332?pt=Magazines&hash=item35c184953c.
We’ll leave you with this tribute to the comedic genius of Jonathan Winters, whose birthday is today. Just about every upstate New Yorker of a certain age (myself included) fondly remembers the long-running series of commercials for Utica Club beer, featuring the adventures of beloved talking beer mugs Schultz (who looked Germanic) and Dooley (the Irish one). What many don’t know is that most of the voices in those spots were supplied by Winters. Here’s a sample commercial from the campaign, with Winters doing impressions of Humphrey Bogart, Bela Lugosi…and Carole’s second husband. Enjoy. (There are many more Schultz and Dooley ads available via the Internet.)
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.10 at 00:12
Current mood: chipper
Carole Lombard is shown with Fred MacMurray on the set of “The Princess Comes Across,” with director William K. Howard seated near them, out of camera range. Lombard had a fascinating, if unfortunately brief, film career, and one of my associates in the classic Hollywood blogosphere is writing extensively about it.
http://backlots.wordpress.com. The endeavor:
“The Carole Lombard Filmography Project.”
Lara Fowler, who writes the blog, announced the project Oct. 18 (http://backlots.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/introducing-the-carole-lombard-filmography-project/). While Lara is certainly a Lombard fan, this came about when she asked readers what star’s filmography they wanted to see profiled on the site; Carole was a clear-cut winner.
But what about Lombard films that are lost, such as 1925′s “Marriage In Transit”? In those cases, Fowler will summarize them.
Lara has subsequently written a brief biography of Carole (http://backlots.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/carole-lombard-filmography-project-clfp-biography-of-carole-lombard/), as well as entries of films she has indeed seen:
* “Man Of The World” (1931): http://backlots.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/clfp-man-of-the-world-1931/
* “Hands Across The Table” (1935): http://backlots.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/clfp-hands-across-the-table-1935/ and
* “We’re Not Dressing” (1934): http://backlots.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/clfp-were-not-dressing-1934/
I’m curious where this will all lead (probably to the three remaining films in the 2006 “Glamour Collection” at first, including “The Princess Comes Across”). It promises to be worth checking out.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.09 at 01:23
Current mood: enthralled
You’ve probably seen Carole Lombard dressed — or perhaps more precisely, draped -- in gold, thanks to designer Travis Banton, who thought Lombard could appear beautiful merely wrapped in gold lame cloth (this isn’t a gown or dress she’s wearing). This is Paramount p1202-191, from 1932, which proved he was right.
At about that time, Lombard also appeared in draped gold for another photo:
I have no idea where this ran, though seeing a number at the lower right-hand corner and reading the rather gushy prose leads one to believe this comes from a fan magazine of some sort. (Q. “And did you ever see anyone wear a hunk of gold cloth more attractively?” A. “No.”) Wherever it ran, it’s gorgeous, a rare image of Carole at her early 1930s sexiest.
You can buy this 8″ x 11″ rotogravure sepia portrait straight up for $48.95, or make an offer. If the latter option is chosen, offers will end at 8:54 p.m. (Eastern) Dec. 8. Interested? Then visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/1932-Rotogravure-Portrait-Actress-Carole-Lombard-Movie-Film-Start-Gold-Fashion-/300813081961?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4609db5d69.
About a year earlier, rising starlet Lombard did what rising starlets often do — pose for portraits to promote something they have no connection with whatsoever. In this case, Carole is holding a 1931 license plate from North Carolina:
Why Lombard was selected for this assignment eludes me…unless someone at Paramount decided that “Carole” was the closest thing they had to “Caroline” on their talent roster.
A search through the Newspaper Archive in 1931 (and late 1930) showed no image of it in a North Carolina newspaper (although, to be fair, the Archive features only one paper from the state during this time, in Burlington).
I have no idea whether Carole ever visited North Carolina, though I tend to doubt it.
This also is being sold at eBay, via auction. Bidding opens at $44.95, with bids closing at 3:35 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. This would be a nice gift for any Lombard fan with ties to the Tar Heel state. Learn more at http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINT-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1931-PERFECT-PORTRAIT-/321019976744?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4abe481c28.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.08 at 08:19
Current mood: satisfied
That’s Carole Lombard in Paramount p1202-414, likely taken by Eugene Robert Richee in late 1932 or early 1933. It was on sale at eBay last night, but someone apparently bought it before I could make that the theme of today’s entry. So it’s on to plan B.
This portrait was one of several at a session showing Carole in a nightgown, often sitting in a chair. They are fascinating to examine together, as they reveal the intricacies of the photographer’s craft, especially regarding lighting. We’ll begin with p1202-418 (which we know was taken by Richee)…
An altogether different aura was achieved by having Carole stand up and shining a light on the flimsy lower half of the nightgown, leading to a silhouette of those lovely Lombard legs. To see just how seductive this effect appears, check out p1202-415…
Also from that session, but with no p1202 number I can confirm, is this pose:
Using a cigarette as a prop has little appeal for 2012 eyes, but back then it was deemed somewhat sexy. (Ah, the changes 80 years can bring!)
Perhaps there remain a few more images from that session, just waiting to be uncovered by classic Hollywood photo sleuths.
Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.07 at 01:27
Current mood: relaxed
Carole Lombard and William Powell weren’t the only things “Man Of The World” and “Ladies’ Man” had in common. These Paramount films from the first half of 1931 were both written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, who a decade later would work with a wunderkind from the east named Orson Welles to write a little film called “Citizen Kane.”
If the name “Mankiewicz” rings a bell, it should…especially if you regularly watch Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. That’s because Herman’s grandson, Ben Mankiewicz, is the channel’s weekend daytime host (he recently added Friday nights to his schedule), and is usually TCM’s substitute when regular weeknight host Robert Osborne takes time off.
The younger Mankiewicz, who never knew his grandfather (Herman died in March 1953), will introduce a free screening of “On The Waterfront” at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, joined by Eva Marie Saint, who won a best supporting actress Academy Award in that film. (While admission is free, tickets are required; go to http://www.tcm.com/2012/roadtohollywood/details.html?city=2.)
Ben was recently interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and given his family lineage, it may surprise you to know that he didn’t catch the classic movie bug from early childhood; he grew up in Washington, where his father, Frank Mankiewicz, was a local newscaster and part of the D.C. political landscape. As Ben put it, in his household, “George McGovern was a bigger star than Jack Nicholson. I was in my teens and thought, ‘These movies are in black and white and not interesting and in another era.’”
What changed him? Some gentle persuasion from his mother…and Eva Marie Saint’s other signature film, “North By Northwest.” He saw it, and noted, “That made a difference. I got past it [the era thing], and if I can get past it, others can get past it, too.”
Mankiewicz has some other perceptive things about comparing classic Hollywood to today at http://triblive.com/aande/2897777-74/movies-movie-classic-mankiewicz-effects-special-tcm-hollywood-compelling-films#axzz2BVhCV9bL, and the interview ends with this: Asked for his “ultimate leading lady, living or dead,” he replied: “Carole Lombard. Girls who make me laugh always get me going, and she was bawdy and (gutsy) and cursed and (was) both sexy and sexual while still being so freaking funny — and a fearless performer.” To borrow a line of his from a TCM promotion, how cool is that?
Welcome to the club, Ben…and I wouldn’t be surprised if your grandfather had felt the same way about her.