2015 TCMFF, day 1: ‘Godfrey’ + group = greatness   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.27 at 02:35

Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

Few would dispute the glory of “My Man Godfrey,” arguably the greatest screwball comedy ever made and the film that provided Carole Lombard her only Academy Award nomination. Yes, some might make a case for “Bringing Up Baby,” but “Godfrey” has far more depth to it than “Baby” and is just as clever as another Howard Hawks contender with Cary Grant, “His Girl Friday.”

But as good as “Godfrey” is when you watch it on TV or video, its magnificence amplifies when you see it in a theater with several hundred other fans, as I did last night at the opening evening of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

The 500-seat Chinese Multiplex House 1, largest of the Chinese’s auxiliary theaters, was nearly full for the 10 p.m. showing (actually, it didn’t get going until 10:12 or so with those fabulous Streamline opening credits, the best this side of Saul Bass). But no one complained, since the film was introduced by occasional TCM presenter and friend of the channel Illeana Douglas (granddaughter of Melvyn Douglas), whose enthusiasm for “Godfrey” was obvious from the get-go.

Douglas was briefly interrupted by “Godfrey”-related cheers throughout her intro, including a nice hand for Lombard. She called her the forerunner to later funny, sexy comic actresses such as Goldie Hawn and Sandra Bullock.

And then came the film.

The collective enthusiasm you get from an audience watching a really good film is one you simply can’t duplicate at home, no matter how big your screen or how fancy your equipment. That certainly was the case with “Godfrey.” They cheered Godfrey pushing Cornelia into an ashpile (and Lombard’s Irene Bullock explaining that was something she always wanted to do), adored Carole’s rapid-fire responses early in the film, and hooted at Alice Brady’s delightful obliviousness.

Some non-verbal humor you may have taken for granted watching by yourself gains impact on the big screen, such as when Godfrey carries the “fainted” Irene up the stairs before the pivotal shower scene. Fascinating to examine. While we’ll never be able to precsely replicate the 1936 audience’s experience watching “Godfrey” — try as we may, we’ll never possess that mindset — it was good to remember why filmgoing in groups has its own very special pleasure.

Better be getting some shuteye…in about 6 1/2 hours, day 2 of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival will begin. For an idea of the myriad of choices, visithttp://www.geekgirlauthority.com/my-picks-for-the-tcm-classic-film-festival-2015/.

Posted March 27, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

That ‘New Yorker’ from San Bernardino   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.26 at 07:27

Current mood: happyhappy

Among the joys of classic Hollywood is watching its able corps of character actors cavort with the likes of Carole Lombard. We’ve previously discussed Walter Connolly, at right, from “Twentieth Century” (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/647552.html), but the man in between them, Roscoe Karns, also had a substantial career.

The fast-talking Karns had so much New York sass on screen most filmgoers probably wondered which borough he hailed from. The answer: None. He was born (in 1891) and raised in San Bernardino, long before Los Angeles would become recognized as a cinematic capital. Karns appeared in eight shorts during the teens, then worked his way up the movie hierarchy during the 1920s, including a part in “Wings,” the first Academy Award-winning film.

The arrival of sound unveiled a new dimension to Karns and bolstered his career. (Turner Classic Movies occasionally runs a 1929 short called “Copy!”, where he plays a city editor — most of his scenes are spent talking on the phone — in a tour de force.) The following year, Karns crossed paths on screen with Carole for the first time in her initial Paramount feature, “Safety in Numbers,” and as the decade progressed, he appeared in several notable films, including “Night After Night” (Mae West’s movie debut) and the multi-episodic “If I Had a Million.” (He’s also the radio announcer broadcasting a bridge match — you read that correctly — in the Loretta Young comedy “Grand Slam.”)

But it wouldn’t be until 1934 that Karns would make his two most memorable movies, both at Columbia — first as the obnoxious Shapeley, Clark Gable’s bete noire, in “It Happened One Night,” then as press agent Owen O’Malley in “Twentieth Century.” Here he is with Lombard’s Lily Garland, who at this point in the film is getting a bit too big for her britches (probably from emulating mentor and lover Oscar Jaffe):

In the early ’40s, Karns appeared in the likes of “His Girl Friday,” “They Drive By Night” and “Woman of the Year.” With his film work diminishing after World War II, he made the transition to television, with a supporting role on the sitcom “Hennessey” and a 1963 appearance on “The Lucy Show.” His swan song came in films in 1964, once again working for Hawks (as he did in “Twentieth Century” and “His Girl Friday”) as Major Phipps in “Man’s Favorite Sport?” He died in 1970.

The photo just above the preceding paragraph is on sale at eBay for $22, although you also can make an offer. It’s in very good condition, though there is a long crease across the top of the photo. Interested? Then visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1930s-Promo-Photograph-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ROSCOE-KARNS-20th-Century-Film-/161651031519?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item25a326fddf.

If you’re going to the TCM Classic Film Festival (and I note from KNX radio traffic reports that part of Hollywood Boulevard has been closed to traffic to handle the visitors), I hope to see you tonight at 10 for “My Man Godfrey” at the Chinese Multiplex House 1. Even if you’ve seen it countless times (as I have), watching it with an audience and sharing in the laughter is a splendid experience.

Posted March 26, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Bad news for screenwriting, good news for ‘Godfrey’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.25 at 20:39

Current mood: excitedexcited

Attention Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, William Powell and Gregory La Cava: As fate would have it appears I will be able to attend tomorrow’s 10 p.m. showing of “My Man Godfrey” at the Chinese Multiplex House 1 (provided I can get a standby ticket, and with my luck…) That’s because the screenwriting contest I had entered in Glendale — where a 10-page segment of a romantic comedy I’m writing was to have received a table reading from professional actors — was canceled for lack of entries.

Hey, these things happen, and there will be other contests, other outlets to display my cinematic writing process. This is merely a momentary setback.

At least the TCM Classic Film Festival is there to soothe my psychic wounds…although I won’t get the full deal until Friday, when my Palace Pass begins. About the only thing I won’t be able to partake of is Club TCM, but that’s OK. So much else will be going on that I should have a blast. It’s just a matter of deciding which way to go, as I feel like a kid in a cinematic candy store.

It will seem a bit different this year without the gracious presence of Robert Osborne, absent for medical reasons. (I saw him at last year’s festival while I visited Los Angeles to search for an apartment.) But as he noted in his message making the announcement to the channel’s fans last week, the event is in good hands with many talented, knowledgeable people filling in for him. I fully concur.

Perhaps I’ll attend the vivacious Colleen Moore in “Why Be Good?” on Saturday morning, or one of dozens of other films or special presentations. You’ll know me from my Washington Nationals or University of Maryland cap — and I’ll probably also be wearing a T-shirt to honor the Maryland women’s basketball team’s Big Ten regular-season or tournament championships. If you see me, ask for a Carole & Co. business card…and wish me luck on my budding screenwriting career.

Posted March 25, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Hi, Mom, I’m home. And divorced.’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.24 at 21:25

Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

No, I don’t honestly believe Carole Lombard used those precise words upon greeting her mother on Aug. 18, 1933 after returning to California following her divorce from William Powell in Carson City, Nev., earlier that afternoon. Whichever words she did use were her first on California soil since traveling to Nevada at the start of July to establish legal residency in the Silver State. Now, her domicile had reverted from Silver to Golden, and she could get back to work as an actress again.

This is an Acme Newspictures photo; here’s what’s on the back:

Roscoe Turner was a renowned 1930s pilot who three times won the Thompson Trophy air race. He also owned a pet lion, though I doubt it accompanied him on this trip.

The photo measures approximately 7″ x 9″, and exhibits light to moderate wear and toning around the edges and corners. The caption has been affixed to the back of the photo and exhibits an Acme Newspictures stamp. (As we all know the ultimate fate of both Lombard and her mother, I apologize if this entry seems too flippant for some.)

The opening bid for this is a mere 99 cents, and the auction is set to conclude at 9:24 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday…so you might have a chance at this. Think you’re interested? Then visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/1933-Carole-Lombard-Returns-To-L-A-After-Divorce-From-William-Powell-Wire-Photo-/351352039600?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item51ce36a8b0.

Posted March 24, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Time to celebrate a classic, blogathon style   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.23 at 22:06

Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

I think it safe to say most people with any sort of knowledge of Hollywood history would define Carole Lombard’s 1937 film “Nothing Sacred” (she’s shown here with co-star Fredric March) as a classic. Well, it just so happens that in less than two months, a day has been designated to honor such films — in fact, just about any more made before 1970:

That day is May 16, and for the second time in four days, I’ve agreed to participate in a blogathon (the other one, on short subjects, will take place in early May). This one, “My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon,” is set for May 16, and is sponsored by the Classic Film & TV Cafe (http://www.classicfilmtvcafe.com/2015/03/a-blogathon-in-celebration-of-inaugural.html).

Just which Lombard “classic movie” will I choose (I have several favorites)? Not certain yet, but I have plenty of time. As of this writing, 13 blogs have chosen favorite movies, and I’m sure the number will grow. For now, I’ll contribute this way…with a poster suitable for borrowing:

Posted March 24, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Herald-ing South America in the ‘Sun’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.22 at 21:30

Current mood: sleepysleepy

Imagine having Carole Lombard as your date and literally falling asleep on the job! Well, that’s what apparently happened to poor Walter Byron in this scene from the 1932 Paramount film “Sinners in the Sun.” No wonder Carole looks so ticked off.

We bring this up because a rare herald from the movie — one issued for Spanish-speaking South American markets — is up for auction at eBay.


According to the seller, who hails from Argentina, heralds such as this one (which measures 9.5″ x 6.5″ and is in “very good condition”) weren’t common in South America. These “were printed by a local distributor, Max Gluksmann…between 1929 and 1936.”

Check the cast list, and you’ll also note one of the supporting players is (erroneously listed as) “Gary Grant.” This probably wasn’t the first time this mistake befell Cary (it was his second film), and it wouldn’t be the last — although after his 1937 breakthrough with “The Awful Truth” and “Topper,” the “Garys” for Cary diminished significantly.

Bidding for this begins at $14.99, and the auction closes at 9:52 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. Many of you collect heralds, so this may be right up your alley. If so, visithttp://www.ebay.com/itm/SINNERS-IN-THE-SUN-Carole-Lombard-Chester-Morris-Herald-1932/301570573423?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D28797%26meid%3Dd92404099b574b9f984da1bcaff0effb%26pid%3D100033%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D301570573423 to bid or find out more…especially since the seller adds, “This item is on auction only once, after auction ends if the item isn’t sold it pass to my store for double or more than this initial price. I don’t relist items, so don’t lose this opportunity, and good luck.”

Posted March 22, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Godfrey’ comes to the plate   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.21 at 19:36

Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

No, not as in baseball (though the mind chuckles at the premise of Carole Lombard pitching to William Powell while he bats wearing his “Godfrey” butler’s outfit). The plate we’re referring to is something you eat on, or display (as in “commemorative plate”) — although given the condition of this one, we strongly recommend the latter:

Can’t make out the inscription? Try this:

The plate measures about 6 inches, according to the seller. As you can see, it’s not in the greatest of shape, but some wise care (and a visit to a silversmith) probably could substantially improve the appearance of this item.

This probably wasn’t a collectible for the general public, but one for distributors, exhibitors and such. Universal was under new ownership in 1936, and with “My Man Godfrey” and its runaway success, a tie-in with that film seeded apropos.

One bid, for $24.99, has been made as of this writing; the auction is scheduled to end at 12:30 a.m. (Eastern) next Saturday. Interested in this rarity? Then visithttp://www.ebay.com/itm/My-Man-Godfrey-1936-film-souvenir-Carole-Lombard-William-Powell-Universal-film-/131462266149?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e9bc2fd25.

Posted March 21, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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