A site to check out the Chinese   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.14 at 19:37
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

carole lombard william walling 03c hat by connie foster

No, not like that, although Carole Lombard certainly looks fetching in that Connie Foster-designed hat. Nor are we referring to the ersatz Asian appearances of Myrna Loy…

…or Loretta Young:

loretta young the hatchet man 00b

The “Chinese” meant here is Grauman’s Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard, arguably the world’s most famous movie theater:

(Yes, I know its official name now is the TCL Chinese Theatre — ironically, TCL is a Chinese-based firm — but most people referred to it as Grauman’s Chinese even when it was a Mann property, out of deference to theater mogul Sid Grauman, who followed his Million Dollar Theatre downtown with the Egyptian on the other side of Hollywood Boulevard before opening the Chinese in 1927.)

Any movie buff worth his or her salt knows the Chinese is renowned for its court featuring hundreds of imprints of stars’ hands, feet, etc. Here’s the block for Loy, who began her career as a dancer at the Egyptian and gave her thanks to Sid in concrete:

myrna loy grauman's chinese 00

Now, the Chinese has been honored with a website saluting its unparalleled history — http://graumanschinese.org, with material bound to fascinate nearly every classic movie buff. There’s a timeline, a history of the theater, information on its projection and sound systems over the years, and a history of marquees and signage, such as this spectacular premiere for “Hell’s Angels” on May 27, 1930:

052730 grauman's chinese hell's angels premiere 00

But best of all for those who love classic Hollywood, there’s a list of every movie that has played the Chinese since “King Of Kings” opened the venue in 1927. Few theaters have such a listing — one that does is the Stanford Theatre in northern California, where you can see what ran there from 1925 to 1961 (http://www.stanfordtheatre.org/aboutHistory.html) — and this goes the Stanford (a neighborhood house back in the day) one better by listing the elaborate shows that accompanied the films, especially in the Chinese’s early days.

We know that her early passing probably denied Lombard the chance to join husbands William Powell and Clark Gable in posting a cement tribute, but what other ties does Carole (whose star sits across Hollywood Boulevard from the theater) have with the Chinese? The answer: Not as many as you would think.

In fact, a Lombard film never played the Chinese until December 1937 — her Technicolor comedy “Nothing Sacred,” with a Frank Morgan film on the lower half of the bill:

carole lombard grauman's chinese 00

(I’m guessing neither Paramount nor Columbia had connections with the Chinese, unlike MGM and Fox — heck, few Paramount hits nor “It Happened One Night” played there.) At about the same time, Carole covered the other side of the boulevard as the Egyptian ran her concurrent film, the Paramount comedy “True Confession”:

carole lombard true confession egyptian theater 00b

Fast forward to February 1939, and Lombard’s other film for Selznick International, “Made For Each Other,” comes to the Chinese. And while I’ve often quipped that it seems that every time I check movie listings of the time, the second feature invariably stars Lynn Bari, and that actually happened here:

carole lombard grauman's chinese 01

The third Lombard film to appear on the Chinese screen was a world premiere, but one presumes the atmosphere was somewhat subdued. That’s because it was for “To Be Or Not To Be” in February 1942, barely two months after the U.S. had been brought into World War II and slightly more than a month since Lombard became one of the war’s first victims:

carole lombard grauman's chinese 02

In my review of Cinecon 50 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/722471.html), I wondered if the Bari vehicle “The Night Before The Divorce” played second feature to “To Be Or Not To Be,” as both were released at about the same time. Well, we now know it happened in at least one theater.

The site also lists Lombard as being one of the guests for the premiere of “The Champ” in November 1931 — heck, just about every star in the industry was there:

carole lombard grauman's chinese 03

Note it played for five weeks, in the days when extensive runs was the Chinese’s policy. A few years later, it shortened such runs to a week, still longer than most theaters of the day. (I’m guessing Lombard attended several other premieres, but don’t have written proof.)

I know of one other instance where Carole appeared at the Chinese; it came in early 1941, as part of a radio broadcast to promote Greek war relief. She’s shown with Gable, Loy, Melvyn Douglas and Charles Laughton:

carole lombard clark gable 010841a greek war relief myrna loy charles laughton

But do please check out the Grauman’s web site, a fitting tribute to a legendary venue. Now can someone put together a listing of all the films that played the Chinese’s East Coast equivalent, Radio City Music Hall?

Posted September 14, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Black and white…but with red lips   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.13 at 20:58
Current mood: irritatedirritated

carole lombard colorized 02
carole lombard colorized 01
carole lombard colorized 00

Over the years, I’ve rarely run colorized images of Carole Lombard, aside from occasional newspaper rotogravures or magazine covers made at the time. The reason is that, for the most part, I tend to be cool to them, no matter how good the intentions of the colorizers may be — and quite a few of them are done quite well, better than some of the films featuring Lombard that were colorized in the late 1980s (specifically “My Man Godfrey” or “Made For Each Other”).

The reason? Few of them can convince me they’re the “real deal” or even resemble it. Instead, they are the visual equivalent of those “reprocessed” stereo versions of monophonic recordings record labels issued in the ’60s and ’70s, resulting in recordings from legends such as Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley that were so bathed in echo or similar tricks that they proved nearly unlistenable. Eventually, the labels learned to leave well enough alone, and you hear Sinatra or Presley circa 1956 the way they deserve to sound.

So it is with colorized Carole. The top pic is subtly done, looking close to realistic. But the colors on the bottom two images simply are too intense for the sophisticated viewer (in the last pic, one doubts Lombard ever owned a casual blouse in such a deep blue).

So I present the following photo to you with a bit of trepidation, although it’s a vintage image from the mid-thirties, one I’ve never seen before (Paramount p1202-1116 to be precise). That’s because it’s in black and white -- save for the red added to Lombard’s lips.

carole lombard p1202-1116c front

Curious about how it would look without artist-engineered lipstick? So was I — so I did a greyscale version of the image, and here it is:

carole lombard p1202-1116e front

As for the photo itself, it measures 7 1/4″ x 10″, and the seller writes “it has been trimmed and has glue and tape remnants on back and a little creasing and paper loss on one top corner.” A view of the back confirms that information:

carole lombard p1202-1116a back

Bidding opens at $19.95, and the auction closes at 4:07 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday. To bid or learn more, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Orig-1935-Portrait-Photo-in-White-Fur-Paramount-Pictures-/380997251577?hash=item58b534b1f9.

Posted September 13, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Keepin’ calm with Lombard love   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.12 at 19:57
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

carole lombard 1929

Above is one of my favorite Carole Lombard photos, showing her beauty, sex appeal and zest for life all at the same time. So when I received a sign on Facebook reading “Keep calm and watch old movies”…

keep calm and watch old movies 01

…then discovered a site called “Keep-Calm-O-Matic” (http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/), which allows people to create their versions of the “Keep calm and…” messages found on everything from T-shirts to cyberspace, I figured there should be something celebrating Carole. So I used the site, took the photo at the top, and voila:

carole lombard keep calm 00a

If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you received that today. But I also decided to do two more samples of Lombard love — this in a sultry sepia shade…

carole lombard keep calm 02a

…and this, showing Carole in color:

carole lombard keep calm 01c

There are yours to copy and paste, as this site continues to spread the Lombard love throughout the Internet.

Posted September 12, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Along a different Pathe, and ‘just stupendous’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.11 at 22:20
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

carole lombard william e. thomas 09c

Think of Carole Lombard’s photos for Pathe in the late 1920s, and the initial name that comes up is William E. Thomas, the studio’s primary photographer. The first man to take many images of Lombard, his portraits ran the gamut from demure to racy, and he almost certainly aided her knowledge of lighting, angles and other tips of the photo trade.

But Thomas wasn’t the only Pathe photographer of Carole during this period. Preston Duncan took a few portraits of her, and today I discovered someone else who performed such honors while Lombard was a Pathe player. His name was Kenneth Alexander, and a photo of her from 1929 now is being auctioned at eBay. Here’s the photo:

carole lombard pathe kenneth alexander 00a front

Pretty stunning, isn’t it? In her appearance, there’s a hint of the more sophisticated Lombard that was to come in the 1930s. Some stuff on the back provides more information:

carole lombard pathe kenneth alexander 00 back

It’s marked “10/22/29,” probably referring to the day it arrived or was stored in the Photoplay library. Since no other dates or markings are listed, I’m guessing the magazine never got around to using it.

The picture measures 11″ x 14″ on double weight semigloss paper stock; the seller adds, “This vintage photograph is in near very fine condition with only minimal edge wear and minor stains to margins as seen. Just stupendous.” (For that matter, so is she.)

Before giving you the specifics regarding the auction, here are two more examples of Alexander’s work. One is of Lombard and was auctioned last December:

carole lombard pathe kenneth alexander 01a

The other, also from 1929, is of Constance Bennett, the newly-hired blonde rival to both Carole and Pathe pal Diane Ellis:

constance bennett 1929c kenneth alexander front
constance bennett 1929a kenneth alexander back

It’s been alleged, but never confirmed, that Bennett worked to get fellow blondes Lombard and Ellis dismissed from the studio, perhaps fearing competition. If that’s the case, Carole managed some karmic revenge — all three of her Pathe talking features have survived, while Bennett’s first two films for the studio, “Rich People” and “This Thing Called Love,” are lost.

As of this writing, one bid has been made on this item, for a mere $4.95. But given the rarity of this image, not to mention its superb oversized condition, don’t expect it to remain there for long. In fact, since the auction isn’t scheduled to end until 9:33 p.m. (Eastern) Sept. 21 — a week from Sunday — don’t be surprised if the winning bid is in triple figures. If that likelihood doesn’t daunt you, enter a bid or learn more by visiting http://www.ebay.com/itm/LARGE-VINTAGE-1929-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GLAMOUR-PORTRAIT-PHOTOGRAPH-KENNETH-ALEXANDER-/231311984341?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item35db44c6d5.

Finally, today marked the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and as he has done annually, modern-day renaissance man Ken Levine (longtime sitcom writer/director, baseball announcer and one-time Top 40 disc jockey — three things I always wished I could be) paid tribute at his award-winning blog to two of the victims of that horrible day, people he knew well: David Angell, co-creator of “Wings” and “Frasier” as well as a writer on “Cheers,” and his wife, Lynn, who was active in helping children. I urge you to read this moving piece athttp://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2014/09/911-and-david-lynn-angell.html.

Posted September 12, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole’s costumes, coast to coast   Leave a comment


Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.10 at 16:59
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

36 godfrey 027c
carole lombard my man godfrey gown v&a museum london 00

Can’t make it out to Los Angeles to see Carole Lombard’s “My Man Godfrey” gown when it’s part of the upcoming “Hollywood Costume” exhibit sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/709175.html)? You’re in luck, especially if you enjoy lobster and the white version of clam chowder.

That’s because the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has just kicked off an exhibit of its own, entitled “Hollywood Glamour” (it began Tuesday and continues through March 8, 2015) and representing Carole is another glittery gown designed by Travis Banton — this one made for a film at her home studio of Paramount, “No Man Of Her Own”:

carole lombard no man of her own 47dcarole lombard no man of her own gown 01b

The MFA website doesn’t specifically identify the gown, but from an article by Jill Radsken of the Boston Globe (http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2014/09/10/new-fashion-exhibition-mfa-goes-glam/82qLzlgMcuQLAf6qZBWy1L/story.html), it’s pretty certain this is the one. She describes it this way: “My eyes immediately found their favorite, a Banton gown designed for Lombard (‘No Man of Her Own’). The plunging neckline hits the navel, and the overt sexiness is striking.”

Yep, I think that’s the one.

Carole’s not the only legend the MFA celebrates; other costumes on display were worn by Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo and Mae West. Here’s a gown Banton designed for Anna May Wong about 1934…

mfa anna may wong gown travis banton 1934

…and one Ina Claire wore in 1926:

mfa ina claire gown 1926

One notable difference of the Boston exhibit from its West Coast counterpart is the presence of jewelry worn by West, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers and June Knight, among others. (Ginger’s set includes diamond and emerald earrings, bracelet, dress clips and ring.) As an example, some Joan Crawford jewels from about 1935:

mfa joan crawford jewelry 1935a

Film clips showing the clothes and jewelry in movies of the era accompany the exhibit.

The MFA is at 465 Huntington Avenue; phone 617-267-9300. For more information, visit http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/hollywood-glamour, which includes a link to a video previewing the event. A talk on the exhibition is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18; learn more about that at http://www.mfa.org/programs/member-events/hollywood-glamour.

Posted September 10, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A ‘White Woman’ in a kimono   Leave a comment


Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.09 at 12:22
Current mood: hothot

carole lombard white woman poster 02

If any Carole Lombard picture deserves having the term “guilty pleasure” attached to it, “White Woman” probably would be the most obvious candidate. It has “over-the-top” written all over it, led by Charles Laughton’s shameless overacting. Lombard knows the entire thing is ridiculous (and knows that we know, too), but plays along to keep the steamy story going. In other words, “White Woman” was camp long before Susan Sontag or the “Batman” TV series came on the scene. (Heck, in 1933, the Batman character had yet to be created.)

Since the film is set in what then was known as the Malayan jungle, Carole’s character has to keep her cool about her, both figuratively and literally. And here’s one of the ways she does it — by wearing a kimono for much of the film:

carole lombard kimono 00a

This vintage photo, an image I’m pretty certain I’ve never seen before, is up for auction at eBay. The seller says Lombard, who looks bored (perhaps she’s letting on the absurdity of the movie’s premise) is “in a very sultry and sexy, reclining pose, with bare legs and partially exposed breast.” Partially exposed breast? Before some of you leave Pavlovian saliva on your keyboards, let’s take a closer look:

carole lombard kimono 00b

As was the case with one of her banned publicity photos for “Twentieth Century” (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/62897.html), the jury is out on whether that’s a nipple or merely Carole’s cleavage (what little she had of it). But the rest of the description certainly is accurate.

The seller describes this 8″ x 10″ as a “hard to find image,” and I wouldn’t disagree with that. However, he or she knew little else about it; it doesn’t help that the back of the photo is blank. However, the number “1461-67″ is listed, and checking my inventory of Lombard images, “1461” is the code number for “White Woman.” In fact, there are several publicity stills from the movie showing Carole in that very kimono:

carole lombard white woman 13b
carole lombard white woman 20b
carole lombard white woman 29a
carole lombard white woman 35b

The photo has “Pin holes on each corner. Whole photo has a curl to it,” according to the seller.

The opening bid is $40, and bidding is set to conclude at 9:29 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. If you find Carole in a kimono — with a goodly amount of Lombard leg and perhaps a hint of nipple — a turn-on, then go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/8×10-orig-Photo-Carole-LOMBARD-Sultry-Reclining-in-Kimono-Bare-Legs-Breast-/371139160194?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item56699e2882.

Now excuse me while I go cool off.

Posted September 9, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Get ready to explore another historic backlot   Leave a comment


Posted by vp19 on 2014.09.08 at 22:55
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard the gay bride 30acarole lombard fools for scandal 05b

What do “The Gay Bride” (left) and “Fools For Scandal” have in common, aside from being two of Carole Lombard’s lesser films? Each was filmed on a historic backlot (in both cases, it was the only film Lombard shot there), and each lot has been or is being immortalized in a comprehensive, “coffee-table” book.

mgm hollywood's greatest backlot 00 large

We’ve discussed “MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot” before (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/384221.html); I own a copy, and it’s a splendid resource for anyone interested in the history of that studio. Now one of its authors, Steven Bingen, has come out with a book regarding another famous backlot — Warner Brothers:

warner bros. hollywood's ultimate backlot 00

The Warners lot in Burbank has provided film fans with so many classic moments. Think of all those gritty pre-Codes produced there, featuring stars from James Cagney and Joan Blondell…

…to Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell…

…to later dramas with Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart…

…not to mention Bette Davis in “Jezebel”…

…and Errol Flynn’s derring-do in “The Adventures Of Robin Hood”:

And that’s just the 1930s.

I haven’t read the book yet — I’m not sure it’s received an official release — but I’ll guess creating this book presented a substantially different challenge to Bingen than the one on MGM. It may have been easier in some ways; much of the MGM lot disappeared in the ’70s, as land (and memorabilia) was sold or auctioned off. In contrast, Warners has been going strong for decades, as it was among the first studios to aggressively pursue television production and its animation department is iconic.

warners burbank lot 00a

However, Bingen had assistance from a wonderful source — Marc Wanamaker of Bison Archives, which has an extensive array of behind-the-scenes photos.

And the Warners Burbank lot initially wasn’t under Warners control. For much of the 1920s, it belonged to First National, one of that period’s major studios. However, the Warner brothers purchased First National in 1928 because it needed more space for talking picture production than its small lot on Sunset Boulevard could provide. I’ll be interested to see how Bingen covers this aspect of history.

(Incidentally, last Saturday I watched the North American premiere of the restored version of a 1929 First National release — Colleen Moore’s final silent, “Why Be Good?” It was plenty of fun, the restoration was meticulous and Moore was a revelation, so full of energy.)

Have I stoked your appetite for this book? Well, if you live in southern California, or will be here Sept. 18, you can catch an event about it at 7:30 p.m. at the famed Larry Edmunds Bookshop, 6644 Hollywood Boulevard. Bingen will give a presentation, complete with slideshow (and of course, copies of the book will be on sale). Find out more athttp://larryedmunds.com/warner-brothers-hollywoods-ultimate-backlot-w-steve-bingen/.

Oh, and a suggestion to Steve: If you’re going to continue this backlot series, please make Paramount your next project. Not only is it a studio filled with close to a century of history, but Lombard actually made some good films there.

Posted September 9, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized


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