Turner Classic Movies begins its always-welcome Summer Under The Stars promotion tomorrow, and above are two of this year’s honorees — William Powell on the 9th, and ex-wife Carole Lombard on the 10th.
Quite a few other Carole contemporaries will have SUTS days. They include David Niven (Aug. 2 — he had a supporting role in the 1938 Lux Radio Theater adaptation of “My Man Godfrey”), Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Muni and James Stewart (Aug. 4-7), Cary Grant (Aug. 13), Claudette Colbert (Aug. 18), Lee Tracy (Aug. 21), Dick Powell (Aug. 25) and Betty Grable (Aug. 30).
If you go to http://summer.tcm.com/, it now has pages for all 31 stars to be honored, including a career overview, biography, films to be shown on his or her day and even a social space for fans.
As usual, it promises to be fun…especially with Lombard being part of SUTS for the third time (she previously was honored in 2006 and 2011). Hope your system carries TCM, and if it doesn’t, make friends with someone who has it.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.30 at 09:25
Current mood: happy
(We make one of our occasional visits to Hollywood heaven, where last night Carole Lombard was sitting in front of her big-screen TV — and up there, “big” means nine feet high and 20 feet wide — when Clark Gable enters the room and sits next to her.)
Clark: Whatcha got on?
Carole: The Dodger game. Between-innings break.
Clark (surprised): Say, isn’t that an ad for…
Carole: Yep, Forest Lawn — as if our mortal selves needed more neighbors. But at least it’s done tastefully. It is rather amusing to think they sponsor ballgames.
Clark: The ultimate growth industry. (The game returns to the screen.) Hmmm, 4-4 vs. the Braves, bottom of the seventh.
Carole: But you haven’t heard the big news!
Clark: Well, I see that Yasiel Puig is trying for the cycle. That’s pretty big.
Carole (nodding): He’s singled, doubled, tripled; now he needs a home run…but no, that’s not the news I was talking about. (Puig doesn’t hit a home run, but beats out an infield grounder to third for a single.)
Clark: So, what is it?
(Carole reaches for the magic remote, presses a button and “BREAKING NEWS” pops up.)
Clark: So, did they finally resolve that dispute over coverage of their new cable channel? Of course, up here we get everything.
Carole: Just watch, Pa.
Carole: As she said, it’s not just breaking news, it’s fantastic news! Vin Scully is going to do Dodger games for his 66th season.
Clark: Longer than either you or I walked the earth. (Pauses.) I recall when they moved out to LA and played at the Coliseum, people carried their transistor radios to the games and Vin won them over.
Carole: He’s still damn good. Hey, let’s get back to the ballgame.
Clark: I see Puig just scored on that groundout to make it 5-4. Now here’s Matt Kemp.
Carole: He homered earlier — in fact, soon after the Scully announcement was made.
Clark: And it looks as if he may do it again! Way back…
Carole: Center field — 7-4! Woo-hoo! (Smiles.) You know who’s gonna be happy about this? My old campaign manager from when I won the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/592300.html). One, he just moved to Los Angeles, and the cable system in his new apartment carries the Dodger games — Vin can’t even get them at his home! Two, he’s a Washington Nationals fan, and if LA’s bullpen holds on, the Nats will keep their half-game lead in the NL East.
They indeed held on — added an insurance run in the eighth, in fact — and won 8-4. Your humble administrator here, and yes, I am thrilled Scully is coming back for 2015. When my parents and older sister lived in Brooklyn in the early ’50s, they heard his work as he was just starting out in the industry. Now, I’ll have a chance to do likewise…and he remains a joy to listen to. Vin unites generations, and I think it safe to say that no announcer is more beloved by his audience.
More can be found at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/broadcaster-vin-scully-to-return-to-dodgers-booth-for-66th-season?ymd=20140729&content_id=86971774&vkey=news_mlb. Oh, and that microphone given away last night (sponsored by Farmer John, whose Dodger Dogs and other meat products Vin has endorsed for decades) features six of Scully’s signature calls, including his trademark “It’s time for Dodger baseball.” Didn’t get one? I’m sure many will be available at eBay.
Hollywood — both in the literal and figurative sense — was in Carole Lombard’s soul. Most of her films were made at studios which then called Hollywood home (Paramount, Columbia and RKO), she was one of the few stars who actually lived on Hollywood Boulevard (the above photo was taken in that house), and she spent plenty of time at hotspots such as the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill, the Vine Street Brown Derby or the short-lived West Coast version of Sardi’s.
So chances are that Carole saw this building countless times while traveling through Hollywood; heck, she may have set foot in the building a time or two:
It’s the First National Bank building at the northeast corner of Hollywood and Highland, taken in 1928, about the time of its opening. In Lombard’s day, it would have been impossible to miss, standing 190 feet from the ground floor to the tip of its tower. Only City Hall, built several miles away in downtown the previous year, was taller.
The First National tower was equally impressive at night:
It dominated the Hollywood skyline:
In her excellent blog “The Daily Mirror,” Mary Mallory notes the building was designed as a reflection of Hollywood’s booming economic self-confidence in the late 1920s (http://ladailymirror.com/2014/07/28/mary-mallory-hollywood-heights-first-national-building-banks-on-hollywoods-future/). Financial, medical and entertainment offices filled it to 80 percent capacity by mid-1929…but then the bottom fell out. First National became prey to a series of takeovers, most recently by Bank of America.
As for the building? As newer office space popped up around Hollywood, the old tower lost favor. For the past few years, Mallory wrote, it’s stood “empty and forlorn at Hollywood and Highland, left unkempt and dirty…” All the action is on the other side of Highland, namely the new, glitzy retail of the Hollywood & Highland complex — similar to classic Hollywood being cast aside in favor of blockbusters with colossal opening-weekend box office hauls:
Even a nearby Metrorail station apparently can’t come to the aid of this stately dowager.
As Mallory so eloquently concluded, “May someone recognize the jewel of this building and restore and reopen it to its previous splendor, celebrating another revival of business Hollywood.” Let’s keep our fingers crossed that’s just what happens.
Carole Lombard’s party at the Venice pier amusement park in June 1935 (she’s shown with Frances Drake and Josephine Hutchinson) has become the stuff of legend. It received substantial coverage from the press of the time, such as this report in Florida’s St. Petersburg Evening Independent...
…not to mention plenty of photos. And in the past few days, the identity of a participant in one of the night’s most famous pictures has come under dispute. Here’s the pic in question:
It’s Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, right? Well, in a comment to http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/346936.html received Saturday, someone disagrees. The person, who has other pics of the sliding scene, says, “That is Edith Piaf the singer, not Colbert pictured.”
Er, I don’t think so.
Note Dietrich and Colbert were mentioned riding the slide in the Associated Press report above. Moreover, Piaf was born in Paris on Dec. 19, 1915 and didn’t vault to fame in her native France until sometime in 1935. According to biographers, she never toured the U.S. until after World War II.
So that’s Colbert with Dietrich — and here’s Claudette with Carole in another party pic:
That photo, an 8″ x 10″ original in very good to excellent condition, is up for auction at eBay. Bidding begins at $10 and is set to conclude at 5:48 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. If you’d like to own this, go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-CLAUDETTE-COLBERT-8X10-STILL-/331273901423?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4d2176956f.
OK, so many of you can’t read the copy above unless you’re fluent in Spanish, but forget the words and focus on Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray and John Barrymore, the three stars of “True Confession.” Two weeks from today, Turner Classic Movies will air that 1937 comedy for the first time as part of its Aug. 10 celebration of Carole on its month-long jubilee of classic Hollywood legends, “Summer Under The Stars.”
That’s a caricature of David Niven, the Aug. 2 honoree. And the Long Island newspaper Newsday (where my Facebook friend and former journalistic colleague Valerie Kellogg writes about real estate, including all those classic mansions) did a short feature on SUTS the other day (http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/movies/turner-classic-movies-features-mgm-stars-1.8873517). It begins Friday — and don’t forget TCM’s 24-hour memorial tribute to James Garner on Monday.
With luck, I’ll be able to catch some of it from my new apartment, as I’m scheduled to have cable, phone and Internet service installed tomorrow. That will mean I’ll finally be able to use my desktop computer for the first time since mid-June…what a relief. Keep your fingers crossed.
I also note that today’s entry marks the 2,750th since Carole & Co. began on June 13, 2007 (most have been written by me). We hope for more milestones in the future.
This photo of Jane Alice Peters (the future Carole Lombard) and her mother and brothers was taken in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1911; three years later, the four of them would be headed to Los Angeles. Today, I am finally doing likewise.
The moving vans have picked up what I am transporting from Charlottesville, Va., the apartment has been cleared out, and by day’s end I’ll have returned to my new apartment after being away for two weeks, preparing for a rather hectic upcoming week, as I gradually settle into a new routine. On Monday, cable, phone and Internet service will be installed, I’ll secure a storage space a few blocks away, and some furniture is expected to be delivered from the Glendale Galleria.
But it will be worth it.
Just as it did the Peters family a century ago, so has Los Angeles seduced me. She dazzles you with her beauty, surprises you with her substance, and gradually you come to realize just how special she is…and how completely she’s got you under her spell. It’s a city poised for a dynamic future, but also aware of its colorful past — and I intend to fully explore part of that past, even more so than I have for the past seven-plus years.
Soon I’ll be living fully on Pacific time, becoming acclimated to ballgames back east that start at 4 p.m., or discovering what happened at the closing bell on Wall Street at 1 p.m. (KNX, the Los Angeles all-news station, does a full hour financial report from 1 to 2 p.m. each weekday, something its eastern brethren can’t duplicate because they’re in the midst of the afternoon rush hour.)
Yes, homeward bound.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.25 at 20:15
Current mood: contemplative
It’s July 1925, and 16-year-old Carole Lombard is a Fox contract player, fresh off being Edmund Lowe’s leading lady in “Marriage In Transit.” (It’s unclear whether it can be called a success; the film is lost, and years later Lombard disparaged her performance.) Regardless, Carole was of relative insignificance in the industry that summer, certainly compared to two titans of comedy…
…Charlie Chaplin (whom Lombard unsuccessfully sought to become his leading lady in “The Gold Rush”) and Harold Lloyd (whom Carole probably met at one time or another, but beyond that I have no idea how often their paths crossed).
We bring this up because Britain’s Guardian newspaper just issued an article from its archives, written 89 years ago today, which compared their styles and approaches to comedy and film (which the Brits then called “kinema”). It’s fascinating to see at least one contemporary account on Charlie and Harold. (Oh, and if you’re wondering about Buster Keaton, the other member of silent comedy’s holy trinity, he’s mentioned too, if only in passing.)
This piece came in the wake of Lloyd’s latest release, “College Days” (the British title for “The Freshman”). The writer commends Harold for knowing his limitations, and not seeking to overproduce himself. It’s interesting to see Lloyd criticized for being too sentimental, a charge frequently levied against Chaplin in later decades. Perhaps Charlie, the first true superstar of silent comedy, was beyond reproach in those days; remember, he came to the forefront well before Keaton or Lloyd.
From 1925 Britain, let’s fast-forward to 2014 Los Angeles. A video camera was placed atop a drone early one morning and made its way through downtown…but it didn’t examine those huge modern bank towers. Instead, it focused on what’s called “the downtown core” — most of them buildings Lombard would have recognized. One is the iconic Eastern Columbia building, where my Facebook friend Monica Lewis, an MGM starlet in 1950, stood in front of its huge clock for a publicity picture, one that must have made her feel like Lloyd in “Safety Last!”:
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.24 at 19:31
Current mood: ecstatic
Carole Lombard had made movies before coming to work for Mack Sennett in the fall of 1927, but it was Sennett who ignited the comedy spark in Carole that finally caused a figurative fire in Hollywood several years later.
While only a handful of Lombard’s short films for Sennett, such as “Run, Girl, Run,” above, have gained wide exposure (while not always being in the best of shape), that also can be said for the output of many of the talented people who worked for him at one time or another. But shortly, that may be changing.
More than 100 of Sennett’s seminal shorts — his “greatest hits,” if you will — have been fully restored and digitally remastered, using original sources such as 35 mm nitrate, archival negatives and even the lone surviving film print. Fifty of those are to be released next month in a three-disc set, “The Mack Sennett Collection, Vol. 1.”
“Run, Girl, Run” is the lone Lombard film in the set, but there were so many other stars who learned the ropes at Sennett. Some of the titles still are fondly remembered by silent comedy buffs today…”Fatty And Mabel Adrift,” “Teddy At The Throttle,” “A Rainy Knight,” “Hoboken To Hollywood.” (There even are two Sennett sound shorts included, one of which is “The Fatal Glass Of Beer” with W.C. Fields.)
The films’ total time is 405 minutes (that’s 6 3/4 hours), and there are plenty of bonus features, including a 16-page booklet and memorabilia galleries.
Have I whetted your appetite? (No doubt a few of you are responding like Pavlovian dogs — just don’t salivate over the keyboard.) You want to know where you can get this…we’ll, I’ll tell you. The Sennett collection will have a list price of $59.95 — but you can pre-order it for $49.95 through Flicker Alley by going to http://flickeralley.com/catalog/item/the-mack-sennett-collection-vol-1/hardgood. It’s expected to ship on or before Aug. 12.
And for those of you who remain unconvinced, check out this intro to the collection (and view it in HD): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=842897542388629&set=vb.100000051745397&type=2&theater.
Great news for those of us who love Sennett, and let’s hope this and Vol. 2 lead to a long-awaited complete, restored set of Carole’s Sennett performances — a nice gift to get for a future Christmas:
Carole Lombard was sufficiently savvy as a businesswoman to know the benefits of being on good terms with your agent. Unlike Lombard, I’ve never had need for one, but perhaps now that I’m on the verge of completing my move to Los Angeles (the mover took my stuff today, I’ll dispose of leftover items from my old apartment tomorrow and Friday, and I’m slated to fly back Saturday) that may change.
As a published author of several books, Michelle Morgan has worked with agents for some time…and her latest contact with one could spell good news for Lombard fans. From her Facebook page:
“Good news for Carole Lombard fans…My agent really liked my book proposal! He recommended a few changes which I worked on this morning, now it is on its way back to him. Next stop…Prospective publishers! Hold a good thought!”
You can be sure we will, Michelle. You’ve worked on this endeavor for several years, with more starts and stops than Wilshire Boulevard at rush hour. Chances now are very good that this finally will reach fruition, and your book will join the array of volumes devoted to our favorite star. Congratulations for clearing yet another hurdle.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.22 at 17:48
Current mood: disappointed
There’s Carole Lombard with John Barrymore, both under the watchful eye of director Howard Hawks in “Twentieth Century.” We bring this up because Lombard and Barrymore were cited in a review of the latest film from a director who perhaps admires classic Hollywood style more than any of his contemporaries…
“Magic In The Moonlight,” another in his recent series of Europe-set films, opens in some markets this weekend, and while “Midnight In Paris” was the equivalent of hitting a triple with two runners aboard, most critics rate “Magic” a weak infield single, relatively minor Allen fare. In fact, here’s what Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter had to say about it (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/magic-moonlight-film-review-719438):
“Set in an F. Scott Fitzgerald-esque Cote d’Azur populated by rich Brits and Yanks, this story of an impetuous maestro’s plan to cut off an alluring arriviste at the knees could have been filmed in 1935 by George Cukor, Frank Borzage or Gregory La Cava, starred John Barrymore and Carole Lombard and probably would have been the better for it. It certainly would have more comfortably fit the Depression-era zeitgeist, as well as the public’s ready acceptance of fluffy, patently absurd comic premises.”
An interesting premise to ponder, that — had “Twentieth Century” been anywhere near the monster hit that its Columbia stablemate “It Happened One Night” turned out to be, the public might have demanded a Barrymore-Lombard re-teaming. (Then again, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert didn’t reunite on screen until 1940.)
What studio might have agreed to a ’35 ‘Magic in The Moonlight”? Columbia, where Harry Cohn invariably gave Carole better treatment than she received at her home studio of Paramount (though once Ernst Lubitsch became head of production, that probably would have changed)? RKO, which always seemed to like such properties?
We’ll never know. But Allen’s “Moonlight,” while relatively ephemeral by the standards of his past films, does have some things going for it.
Emma Stone, probably delighted to show she can be more than Spider-Man eye candy (though she’ll never get anywhere near the paychecks she receives for those blockbusters), makes a game effort, according to McCarthy, and comes off better than Colin Firth, who’s uncomfortable in his character’s bitterness.
For all we know, while filming this, Allen himself may have wished he could have conjured up Carole and “the Great Profile” as the leads. Alas, that’s a magic trick beyond the reach of even big-budget CGI special effects.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.21 at 20:52
Current mood: grateful
Last month, we did an entry about someone asking San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle if Carole Lombard would be a star today, or if Tom Hanks could have done likewise in the 1920s (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/699835.html). LaSalle answered yes to the former (“…we know that Carole Lombard would succeed in any era because she doessucceed — show her in a movie from 75 years ago, and everyone still falls in love with her”) and is unsure on the latter (“As for Tom Hanks, it’s hard to imagine this phenomenon in reverse”).
I can see where LaSalle is coming from (though the “language” of silent film makes it difficult to transpose current-day stars to the ’20s), but it’s been said there’s an exception to every rule…and we lost one of those exceptions Saturday night. His name: James Garner.
Garner, who died at 86, was an actor you could imagine succeeding in any era from the 1930s on. His style of light comedy evoked William Powell or Cary Grant, although his type was more western than either, sort of along the lines of Gary Cooper. (One key difference from Cooper was that Garner rarely portrayed the traditional hero; his characters invariably had a bit of rogue in them.)
Garner rose to fame via the gently satiric ’50s western “Maverick” and had another iconic TV series, “The Rockford Files” in the ’70s. But his film career was considerable, as he showed off his skill in both comedy and drama. The Village Voice named five “sleeper” films of his (http://www.villagevoice.com/2014-07-16/film/james-garner-movies/).
Two of them will air next Monday as Turner Classic Movies presents a 24-hour James Garner tribute (http://www.tcm.com/this-month/movie-news.html?id=1018763&name=Schedule-Change-for-James-Garner-Tribute-on-Monday-July-28): “Marlowe” and Garner’s personal favorite, the brilliant anti-war film “The Americanization Of Emily” with Julie Andrews.
Watch Garner’s remarkably effortless (and professional) acting, then envision him as a leading man for Lombard, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck or other ’30s icons. It’s not that difficult to imagine.
Silent two-reelers for Mack Sennett such as 1928’s “The Campus Vamp” helped hone Carole Lombard’s comedic knowhow, though it would take half a dozen years to fully exploit such skills. At 8 tonight (Eastern), you’ll be able to witness work from some of the masters of silent comedy, as part of…
Silent comedy has been a part of “Essentials Jr.” since the summer series debuted a few years ago, but this year, rather than run one comedian’s feature, TCM has decided to run several shorts from the biggest names in the trade.
Things begin with “Coney Island” (1917), starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and a young, pre-“Stone Face” Buster Keaton. They were good friends, and many of the things that would make Keaton such a superb comedian and filmmaker were learned as a protege of Arbuckle (who now is finally being appreciated for his talent).
“The Immigrant” (1917) is deservedly one of Charlie Chaplin’s best-known shorts, filled with humor and heart. A meticulous filmmaker (he filmed nearly 90,000 feet of film for this), his scenes with Edna Purviance on both a tramp steamer and in a cafe are sublime.
“Never Weaken” (1921) was Lloyd’s last short subject, and it points the path for some of his later “thrill” comedies such as “Safety Last!” and “Girl Shy.” The concept of a man planning to kill himself after thinking his true love’s heart belongs to another may seem in poor taste to 2014 sensibilities, but Lloyd makes it work — and also makes it funny.
We conclude with a team not always associated with silent comedy, but Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were geniuses at the game long before audiences heard them speak (completely in tune with their personas). “Two Tars” (1928) casts them as sailors on leave; they pick up two girls, prepare to have a fun afternoon…then comedic chaos results. Several specially-constructed “breakaway” cars are torn apart, adding to the fun.
Not enough silent comedy for you? Chaplin’s 1925 masterpiece “The Gold Rush” (the film which a teenage Lombard unsuccessfully sought to become his leading lady) airs at 10 p.m., followed by even more comedic shorts. See today’s schedule at http://www.tcm.com/schedule/; learn more about the “Essentials Jr.” list at http://www.tcm.com/essentials-jr/article.html?id=982806.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.19 at 22:22
Current mood: contemplative
Above is a fairly common publicity still of Carole Lombard from her breakthrough film, “Twentieth Century”…but I’m guessing at least a few of you first became aware of Carole in leopard skin through the cover of this book:
We mention this because the man behind that book and scores — no, make that hundreds -- of other publications devoted to paper dolls has passed away. Tom Tierney, 85, died July 12. He warranted a fairly lengthy obit in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/arts/tom-tierney-who-made-paper-dolls-an-art-form-dies-at-85.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1).
Tierney, a former New York fashion illustrator, had created paper doll books for the past four decades, beginning with “Thirty From The ’30s” in 1974:
Here’s a newspaper article about the book from January 1975:
That book had four outfits for Lombard, including the aforementioned “Twentieth Century” design later reused in the “Glamorous Movie Stars Of The Thirties Paper Dolls” shown above:
What made Tierney’s work so popular wasn’t just his artistry, but his research — and sheer breadth of topics. Rather than restrict himself to Hollywood glamour, he made paper dolls of historical figures, from presidents (and first ladies) to royals and even Pope John Paul II. The Times obit described his books as “meticulously drawn and colored, and annotated with historical information”; in other words, not only could you have fun with paper dolls, but you could learn something about costume history as well.
It was a niche interest, to be sure, but a very profitable one for Tierney, as he nearly single-handedly revived an industry that had been dormant for decades, especially after the advent of Barbie.
He will be missed.
Turner Classic Movies has released its promo for this year’s “Summer Under The Stars,” its annual August extravaganza, and Carole Lombard (the Aug. 10 honoree) is shown in a snippet from “Nothing Sacred.” You can view the promo at http://summer.tcm.com/; the entire schedule can be seen in PDF form at http://693938498.r.cdn77.net/schedule.pdf.
(That PDF features caricatures of all the honorees…Carole’s shows her putting up her dukes in the “Nothing Sacred” fight scene.)
The promo also includes Aug. 9 honoree (and SUTS newcomer) William Powell blowing smoke rings in “The Thin Man” as only Powell (or Nick Charles) can:
Some more things to know about Carole’s day:
* “True Confession,” to air at 10 p.m. (Eastern), is indeed a TCM premiere;
* While “Fools For Scandal,” which airs at 3 a.m., is the final true Lombard film of the night, it will be followed at 4:30 by “The Golden Age Of Comedy,” a 1958 compilation which shows part of Carole’s silent Sennett short “Run, Girl, Run”;
* Every SUTS artist this year is getting a hashtag for the Twitterverse, and Carole’s is #LombardTCM.
Finally, I want to note that my Facebook friend Francine York will be among the more than 75 celebrities appearing at the “Hollywood Show” today through Sunday at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel (http://hollywoodshow.com/main.php); other notables expected to be on hand include Shirley Jones, Barbara Eden, Sybil Danning and more. Alas, I’m back in Virginia clearing out my old apartment and won’t be able to attend, but if you do go, tell Francine I said hello.
A few weeks ago, Marilyn Slater of the “Looking For Mabel” blog took some photos of Francine while she was attending the Diane McBain book signing at Larry Edmunds bookstore (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/705489.html). Here’s another shot of her — and look who’s also in the picture. Yep, it’s moi...and for once, I actually photographed well! I credit Francine, whose presence forced me to “raise my game,” so to speak.
This still of Carole Lombard with Warner Baxter from “The Arizona Kid” in 1930 is more or less the last time Lombard was associated with the Fox studio. But thanks to the machinations of the telecommunications industry, that soon may change.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned conglomerate now known as 21st Century-Fox (apologies to Darryl F. Zanuck, but you’ve got to change with the times) made a hostile bid for TimeWarner earlier this week. (That name isn’t entirely accurate now, as earlier this year the firm jettisoned its magazine division, including Time.) The bid was spurned, but that doesn’t mean Murdoch — who has a knack for getting what he wants — can’t sweeten the deal to woo stockholders. Many analysts label Fox buying TimeWarner a “when,” not an “if.”
Much of the conjecture regarding the deal concerns CNN (which Murdoch probably would peddle for antitrust reasons) or Fox coveting MLB and NBA rights now property of TBS and TNT. Of course, as classic Hollywood buffs, we take a slightly different angle; our focus is on another TimeWarner property…
…Turner Classic Movies, which turned 20 this past April. Under Fox ownership, might it change by the time it turns 25 in 2019 — and if so, by how much?
It’s easy to crack simplistic jokes about Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz being replaced by the classic movie equivalent of leggy, vapid Fox News blondes. (Gretchen Carlson just attacked the 17-year-old “Seinfeld” Festivus episode for undermining Christianity.) But seriously, what might Fox do with TCM?
Will McKinley, at his fine site “Cinematically Insane,” examined this the other day (http://willmckinley.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/how-a-foxtime-warner-merger-might-impact-classic-film-fans/). His thoughts are well worth checking out. And here are some thoughts of my own:
* Don’t let what happened with Fox Movie Channel, which not long ago abandoned its all-classic, commercial-free format, lead you to believe TCM will suffer the same ignominious fate. FMC was little-watched as few systems carried it, and had a small film library (how many times could one watch “No Highway In The Sky”?) from a single studio. In contrast, TCM has a far bigger library or contractual agreements with studios (including Fox in recent years), is carried by the vast majority of cable and satellite systems, and in short has positioned itself as a “brand.” Such cachet should lead Murdoch to treat TCM along the lines of the Wall Street Journal, not the New York Post.
* Where home video is concerned, McKinley points out that the Warner Archive has done a far better job — both commercially and aesthetically — than Fox’s equivalent (Fox Cinema Archives), and Warners probably would take command in any merger of the two.
Yes, classic film fans have every right to be wary, but as McKinley writes, “at first glance, it appears to me that this merger would only likely increase access to, and availability of, classic films and TV shows.”
And speaking of TCM, not long ago I saw one of these tour buses along Hollywood Boulevard — nearly three months after the TCM Classic Film Festival, when the tours were offered on a short-lived basis. Now, the TCM Movie Locations Tour has been brought back, complementing the TCM Classic Film Tour offered in New York.
Not just a “Hollywood” tour, the three-hour excursion takes riders all over film-related locations across Los Angeles, dating back to silent times. To learn more or to make reservations, go to http://www.starlinetours.com/los-angeles-tour-9.asp?origin=TCM.
I like to think that somewhere, Carole Lombard is smiling because I’ve finally moved into my Los Angeles apartment; the furniture arrived today. It’s been nearly three weeks since the bed, computer desk and chair, TV, nightstand and other items were packed back in Virginia, and I had to wait my turn as other matters were attended to during this transcontinental move. It’s been worth it — tonight I finally get to sleep in my own bed.
If only I could say my view of the Los Angeles skyline was as spectacular as that photo. But I’m on the fourth floor (albeit the top one) of my 1920s apartment, and I face neither the downtown skyscrapers or the mountains above what locals call “the basin.” No complaints, however — the view faces southwest, so I don’t have to worry about direct sunlight (always good for a writer). And there is sort of a Lombard vibe to the area; I’m not all that far from 138 North Wilton Place, where Carole lived with her family for much of the 1920s, or Virgil Junior High School, one-time home of student Jane Alice Peters.
Were Lombard to magically rematerialize in this part of LA today, she’d see many buildings and storefronts still around from her time, but they’d be complemented by modern stucco low-rise apartments and the ubiquitous two-story mini-malls. The people would be different, too — not large strains of Midwest emigres like the Peters family, but a diverse ethnic blend of Koreans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, blacks and other groups. I’ve been told the neighborhood is a fairly quiet one…probably not all that different from the 1920s, though residents now use the Red and Purple subway lines, not the Red and Yellow streetcars.
My new apartment is comfy, but the building has its quirks — chiefly an elevator that’s been here from day one (more than 85 years). The metal exterior door opens with a handle, but thankfully won’t open if it isn’t on your floor. But you have to make certain it’s completely shut, or it won’t operate. And when you’re on the fourth floor and someone who just left the first floor didn’t close it all the way, well, you’re stuck until someone else boards.
The move isn’t complete. I can’t use my desktop computer or TV yet, because they won’t be installed until later this month. And later this week, I’ll return east to clear out what’s left of my old digs. But by the time July ends, I’ll be an Angeleno for good…just like Lombard was.
It’s been nearly 78 years since “My Man Godfrey,” with Carole Lombard and William Powell heading a superlative cast, hit theaters en route to nearly universal acclaim (well, it was a Universal production). It certainly ranks among the peaks of the romantic comedy, a genre whose roots in Hollywood date to the late 1910s. (A reminder that silent comedy is far more than slapstick.)
But is that genre threatened? That’s been argued often is recent years, and the latest to claim it is Andrew Romano of the Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/07/the-romantic-comedy-is-dead.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_afternoon&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_afternoon&utm_term=Cheat%20Sheet). His piece, “The Romantic Comedy Is Dead,” doesn’t celebrate the genre’s apparent demise, but examines how the genre came to be on life support. He cites several reasons:
* Money: Hollywood’s search for blockbusters with international appeal — comic-book adaptations or action flicks with the customary explosions and apocalyptic soundtracks — have more or less killed the mid-budget movie, the neighborhood for most comedies not destined for the art-house circuit.
* Boys: The industry increasingly focuses on the male audience, especially those ages 18-24, as women’s options are relegated to TV. Rom-coms are derided as “chick flicks” by the multiplex crowd, and are accepted only if they’re sufficiently coarse.
* Viable actresses look elsewhere: The likes of Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey are more comfortable in television, while those whose forte is films find the going better in blockbusters — think Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” (where at least she’s the lead character) or Emma Stone (relegated to love interest in comic-book movies).
* Branding: An array of lackluster rom-coms over the past dozen years has diminished the appeal of the genre; Romano calls Matthew McConaughey the prime culprit, but poor writing and a lack of feel for the genre are equally to blame.
I still hold out hope for the genre, but it will require truly charming acting, sophisticated (but not pretentious) writing and someone with a sense of unconventional wisdom to make it work. Remember, about 30 years ago the sitcom genre was in similar doldrums — then came “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show,” followed by “Seinfeld” and “Frasier.” So hold out hope that the genre which made Carole a cinema immortal will do likewise for a star of today.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.06 at 21:01
Current mood: pensive
Two Carole Lombard films which never have received an official DVD release are being sold in that format. One is…
…”From Hell To Heaven,” the 1933 Paramount programmer. The other is a Pathe silent from 1928…
…”Power,” which incidentally was Joan Bennett’s film debut.
The seller behind both items says these movies are in the public domain. I’m almost entirely certain of that regarding “Power,” but not so sure about “From Hell To Heaven.” Unless the rights to this film has lapsed (as was the case for a later Lombard Paramount vehicle, “Swing High, Swing Low”), it probably is property of Universal, which now holds the rights to several hundred Paramount sound titles made before 1948.
That Universal hasn’t done much with these holdings regarding video or other release (yes, there was the April 2006 release of the “Glamour Collection” for Carole, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West, but next to nothing beyond that, at least for Lombard) is irrelevant; if it belongs to Universal, “From Hell To Heaven” is a bootleg. That no cease-and-desist order apparently has come from Universal’s legal office means either
* it actually is in the public domain, or equally likely
* Universal holds the rights, but either has no plans for a video release or doesn’t have it in marketable condition yet. (We hope it’s the latter.)
“Power,” which the seller admits is in “acceptable” condition, is on sale for $19.99 at http://www.ebay.com/itm/POWER-1928-DVD-WILLIAM-BOYD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-JOAN-BENNETT-/251580568650?pt=US_DVD_HD_DVD_Blu_ray&hash=item3a935ed44a. As for “From Hell To Heaven,” it’s deemed in “good” condition, is available for $15.99, and is athttp://www.ebay.com/itm/FROM-HELL-TO-HEAVEN-1933-CAROLE-LOMBARD-JACK-OAKIE-/261525257620?pt=US_DVD_HD_DVD_Blu_ray&hash=item3ce41ebd94.
Yesterday, I moved into my Los Angeles apartment (well, sort of…the furniture was supposed to arrive, but never did). Since I couldn’t do very much, I walked around the floor and discovered that behind the building, someone was keeping a rooster which I heard crowing, but never saw. Of course, Carole Lombard had a rooster, too — good old Edmund — and they’re pictured here in Paramount p1202-1440.
Now, you can buy the original 8″ 10″ negative of this portrait for $149.99; to learn more, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Portrait-Original-NEGATIVE-176H-/191237024481?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c869d6ae1.
Three other shots are available:
* A headshot of a smiling Carole (http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Portrait-Original-NEGATIVE-175H-/380943748197?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item58b2044c65)
* A leggy Lombard poolside portrait, complete with sombrero (http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Portrait-Original-NEGATIVE-177H-/351111277647?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item51bfdcec4f)
* The star modeling a long gown with a plaid jacket (http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Portrait-Original-NEGATIVE-174H-/380943748228?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item58b2044c84)
All also are being sold straight up for $149.99.
Oh, and one more thing: Rest assured I won’t be awakened every morning by a poultry alarm clock — I couldn’t hear the rooster from my apartment room. Good news once that furniture finally arrives.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.04 at 06:20
Current mood: nostalgic
As we did last July 4th (when we opened with another flag-flying photo of Carole Lombard at the Indiana state capital), let’s celebrate Independence Day, classic Hollywood style. Here are several patriotic pics from stars of the era.
Last year, we ran a shot promoting July 4 showing Thelma Todd in, of all places, the snow (on location in the Sierra Nevadas, perhaps?). This year’s image of Thelma is a bit more conventional — as she’s shown as Betsy Ross:
Madge Evans also is shown in a Revolutionary War motif:
Here’s Leila Hyams looking patriotic, and even holding two 48-star versions of Old Glory:
A year ago, we pictured a 1920s Joan Crawford atop firecrackers. This time, we imagine that era’s Joan as Lady Liberty, though she looks as if she can’t be sure she’d imagine it herself:
And this time, it’s her old MGM rival Anita Page who gets the firecracker treatment:
A happy — and above all, safe — July 4th to all.
What do Carole Lombard and Jimmy Durante (shown alongside Jack Oakie with a mustache) have in common? Both appeared in Old Gold cigarette ads in the 1930s, and are among a group of such ads up for auction at eBay.
The Lombard ad offered is horizontal rather than vertical, but has the same copy. Other stars featured include Bing Crosby, Adrienne Ames, Wallace Beery, Bert Wheeler (of Wheeler & Woolsey fame) and Virginia Bruce. Bidding opens at $9.99, and the auction closes at 10:25 p.m. (Eastern) Monday.
Until roughly 80 years ago this week, it was fairly easy to see Carole Lombard in such a state of undress, as she is here in this scene from “No Man Of Her Own.” After that, if you sought a glimpse of the Lombard legs, you needed to hope she’d be appearing in a swimsuit…or were lucky enough to work on the set and see her in between scenes.
The strict enforcement of the industry’s Production Code — implemented after threats of boycott from church groups, notably Catholics — spelled the end to nearly half a decade of freewheeling, honest moviemaking. And in September, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will honor this period in a big way.
In recent months, TCM has run something it calls the “Friday Night Spotlight,” a monthly prime-time gallery of films based around a single theme — everything from food to Australia to pirates. Well, come September, TCM will take this concept and amplify it…to the tune of four 24-hour blocks of pre-Code cinema, 66 films in all.
“Virtue” is the only one of Carole’s movies to make the cut, as her 1932 film about a streetwalker going straight to please her cabbie husband is slated for 7:45 a.m. (Eastern) Sept. 5. But many of the other 65 are must-sees, featuring many favorites of the pre-Code era — James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Warren William, Barbara Stanwyck, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, Norma Shearer and Mae West.
See the entire schedule at http://immortalephemera.com/52529/tcm-pre-code-september/. And rest assured you won’t see this:
Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.01 at 22:51
Current mood: exhausted
From right to left, Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray and Una Merkel were having a riotous time in “True Confession,” which turned out to be Lombard’s last film at Paramount. It was a musical time, too, even though none of the three sang or performed in the movie.
As was the case for many studios at the time (late 1937, in this case), Paramount drew additional revenue from the sale of sheet music; a title song, for instance. Two examples of such — one from each side of the Atlantic — now are available at eBay.
Let’s start with the version issued in Great Britain:
There’s a music store stamp on it, and the seller lists it in “good+” condition. Bids begin at $35, and bidding is set to end at 8:15 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To get in on the action, go tohttp://www.ebay.com/itm/MOVIE-TRUE-CONFESSION-BEAUTIFUL-ALT-PIC-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1937-UK-Sheet-Music/111395788204?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131017132637%26meid%3D8023313154551838408%26pid%3D100033%26prg%3D20131017132637%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D251576690973.
The other one, issued in America, looks something like this, along the lines of a cover of True Confessions magazine:
Actually, the version being offered is wrapped in cellophane. It’s said to be in very good condition, but one senses the seller isn’t well versed in film history. Witness:
* It’s listed as being from “Adolph Zucker’s 1937 movie ‘True Confession.'” (Gee, I never realized the same family that gave us “Airplane!” and “Police Squad!” handled Lombard movies, too.)
* The seller isn’t certain whether that’s John Barrymore or MacMurray in the inset with Carole. Anyone familiar with Barrymore’s condition in 1937 knows that isn’t him.
Regardless, you can buy this straight up for $5.99; visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/JOHN-BARRYMORE-CAROLE-LOMBARD-FRED-MACMURRAY-True-Confession-MOVIE-SHEET-MUSIC/251576690973?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131017132637%26meid%3D8023486216596416178%26pid%3D100033%26prg%3D20131017132637%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D111395788204.