Archive for January 2013

TCM’s ‘studio’us approach to its necessary evil   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.31 at 14:40

Current mood: complacentcomplacent

For many fans of Turner Classic Movies, the month of February (and the first two or three days of March) are a perfect time to focus on other chores…like washing dishes, as Carole Lombard and William Powell are doing in “My Man Godfrey.” That’s because the channel’s “31 Days Of Oscar” presentation removes a large part of what people love about TCM — the search for the obscure, programmers from the 1930s or ’40s forgotten by virtually everyone, or a birthday tribute to a performer or director who’s fallen into the mists of history. It’s as if your favorite alternative or college radio station suddenly ditched its format for 31 days to play Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” and the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” or other chestnuts. (And honestly, for a change of pace, wouldn’t you prefer to hear Devo’s hilarious take on “Satisfaction”?)

To be fair, many of the people at TCM may feel some sympathy with these viewers. The relatively few number of movies that meet the cut (either winners of, or nominees for, an Academy Award) restrict its programmers a great deal, although there are some relatively forgotten films that do qualify. But the promotion wins TCM points with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, very good for aiding its recognition.

So TCM tries to show some imagination each year with the 31 days. In 2012, travel was the theme (film settings from New York and Los Angeles to outer space); this year, they are running part of one or several days saluting every studio, beginning Friday with Warners. A nice approach, although the devolving of the studio system, beginning in the 1950s, minimized much of what made one studio’s product different from the others.

Warners product will run through part of Feb. 5, more or less in chronological order (which means plenty of pre-Code stuff during the day Friday!), although the classic “I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang” won’t be aired until 10:15 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. At 7 p.m. Saturday is a new, one-hour production, “Tales From The Warner Brothers Lot,” which should be of interest to anyone who admires what came out of this once-pugnacious studio. That’ll be followed by a few from the ’40s: “Casablanca,” “The Maltese Falcon” and “Mildred Pierce.”

Following Warners are tributes to Allied Artists and Seven Arts (which Warners later incorporated), before Universal gets the spotlight on Feb. 6 and 7 (with a side trip to some European studios during daytime on the 7th). Curiously, “Godfrey” is not part of the Universal salute; the only Lombard film featured during the 31 days won’t come until March 1. More on that later.

Feb. 8 to 10 looks at Twentieth Century-Fox (and even a bit of early Fox with “Sunrise” and “Berkeley Square”), including “The Rains Came” (1939), with Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy (in what may be her best dramatic performance) at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 8, followed by “The Grapes Of Wrath.”

The spotlight shifts to RKO from Feb. 11 to 13, featuring four Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers films on Feb. 11, an Orson Welles doubleheader on Feb. 12 (“The Magnificent Ambersons” at 6:15 p.m., “Citizen Kane” at 8) and “The Farmer’s Daughter” at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 (just in case you missed it last night as TCM concluded its Loretta Young “Star of the Month” tribute)

On Valentine’s Day, TCM shows its love for Selznick International Pictures…but you won’t find “Nothing Sacred” or “Made For Each Other” there (neither received any Oscar nominations). But you will find two consecutive Best Picture winners — 1939’s “Gone With The Wind” at 8 p.m., 1940’s “Rebecca” at midnight.

The Culver City lion then roars for nearly five days, from Feb. 15 to 19, as MGM’s glittering Oscar history is profiled. Feb. 15 begins with the lovely Anita Page and Bessie Love in “The Broadway Melody” (1929), then goes throughout the ’30s — including “When Ladies Meet” and “Mutiny On The Bounty” — into the early ’40s. (The 1962 “Bounty” will air Feb. 18.) The studio’s classic musical period will be among those movies featured on Feb. 16 and 17.

Then it’s on to Paramount from Feb. 19 to 21, and if the logo looks a bit fuzzy, it’s appropriate; much of its pre-1948 product is now owned by Universal, which has made relatively little of it available to TCM. As a result, while the channel will show three days of Paramount in prime time (including Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Love Parade” at midnight Feb. 19 and “The Smiling Lieutenant at 4 a.m.), daytime programming will largely consist of tributes to assorted producers, including Cinerama on Feb. 20.

In contrast, Columbia Pictures — which has had good relations with TCM — gets three and a half days of treatment, beginning Feb. 22 with plenty of romantic/screwball comedy, such as “The Awful Truth” at 8 a.m., the 1938 “Holiday” remake at 9:45 and “Theodora Goes Wild” at 11:30. “On The Waterfront” airs at 8 p.m. Feb. 23, while Feb. 24 is dedicated to epics such as “The Bridge On The River Kwai,” “Lawrence Of Arabia” and “Gandhi.”

Remember Touchstone Pictures, the company Disney created for more sophisticated/adult fare, and how it dominated the industry in the late 1980s? Largely forgotten today, it will be honored in prime time Feb. 25 with the TCM premiere of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” at 8 p.m. and “The Color Of Money” at 2:45 a.m.

Daytime Feb. 26 is dedicated to Hal Roach Studios, which received a number of Oscar nominations. Constance Bennett fans can see her in “Godfrey” imitator “Merrily We Live” at 1:30 p.m., “Topper” at 3:15 and “Topper Takes A Trip” at 5. (The Bennett-less “Topper Returns” concludes the ghostly triumvirate at 6:30.) Then, for prime time and into daytime Feb. 27…

…gems from the Samuel Goldwyn Company, including two sides of Barbara Stanwyck — dramatic (“Stella Dallas” at 6:15 a.m. Feb. 27) and comedic (“Ball Of Fire” at 8:15). That’s followed Feb. 27 and 28 with London Film Productions, Ealing Studios, Otto Preminger and Embassy Pictures.

March 1 to 3 are dedicated to United Artists, and finally a Lombard film — “To Be Or Not To Be” at 9 a.m. Feb. 1. (It was nominated for Best Score.) Another superlative black comedy, Charles Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux,” airs at 8 that evening. Get (Billy) Wilder on March 2 with “Some Like It Hot” (1:15 p.m.), “The Fortune Cookie” (3:30) and “The Apartment” (5:45). March 3 highlights include “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” at 12:15, “The Pink Panther” at 3 and “Annie Hall” at 8. Then, the following morning, it’s back to the TCM we know and love.

And while Lombard is relatively absent, there isn’t much TCM can do about that. Columbia’s “Twentieth Century” received no Oscar nominations, and neither did any of her Paramount films. “They Knew What They Wanted” did get a nomination for William Gargan, but it can’t go in the RKO section because of legal tie-ups with the Sidney Howard estate.

So give TCM credit for making the most of what some film fans deem a bad situation, and be thankful for August, when the channel more than compensates with its “Summer Under The Stars.”

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Posted January 31, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Two chances to be a ‘Picturegoer’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.30 at 01:03

Current mood: enthralledenthralled

Carole Lombard gave her best wishes to British film fans in the Sept. 9, 1933 issue of Picturegoer, a leading UK movie magazine. Okay, so it got part of her story wrong — Lombard was not a lifelong resident of Hollywood — but with a photo like that, so what?

Gracing the cover, long before Tim Burton was even born, was Carole’s Paramount stablemate, Sylvia Sidney:

Lombard would appear on the magazine’s cover on May 18, 1935 (and it looks as if Picturegoer reused her signature!):

On the inside were fetching photos of Claudette Colbert…

…Alice Faye in “George White’s 1935 Scandals”…

…and Marlene Dietrich, as part of a gossip column:

Both of these magazines can be yours through eBay. The 1933 magazine is generally in very good condition despite some minor markings. The minimum bid is $8.99, and bidding ends at 8:58 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday. You can bid, or find out more, by visiting

The 1935 Picturegoer is complete, and also in very good condition. One bid has been made as of this writing, for $9.99, with bids closing at 6:03 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. Interested? Then go to

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Posted January 30, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

At work and at play, 1938   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.29 at 13:34

Current mood: busybusy

The two sides of Carole Lombard are on display in a pair of items now available through eBay.

First, the studios Carole, shown during her week handling publicity for Selznick International Pictures in July 1938. While much of her time there was spent having fun in the Lombard manner, there were times when she studiously worked, getting a feel for what the promotional process was all about. The photo above makes that evident.

This 8″ x 10″, probably not an original, has a minimum bid of $6.99 (no bids have been received as of this writing); bidding concludes at 4:39 a.m. (Eastern) Sunday. If you have an office, Carole can add a touch of serious glamour to your surroundings. Interested? Then go to

Now to Lombard at play, or at least posing as if she were:

That’s the cover of the December 1938 Picture Play, as Lombard apparently was readying to visit the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to watch Southern Cal’s Trojans play football (she had seen some games there in the ’20s). By now, the magazine referred to her as “Carole” after not using the “e” for much of the decade — and not only was she its cover subject, but she was featured inside as well, as a “Glamour Girl Plus” (and to land Clark Gable, a girl needed “plus”!):

This magazine is in very good condition, remarkable considering it’s nearly 75 years old. Bids open at $24.99 and close at 8:41 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday — right in the middle of the Super Bowl. If you can drag yourself away from following the NFL title game, place a bid; learn more at

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Posted January 29, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Check out that ‘flirty blonde salesgirl’ (and Pickford, too)!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.28 at 12:21

Current mood: flirtyflirty

Yes, that’s Carole Lombard — all of 18 at the time — playing a “flirty blonde salesgirl” opposite Charles “Buddy” Rogers in the 1927 silent comedy “My Best Girl,” one of Mary Pickford’s best movies ( And if you’re in the Bay Area next month, you’ll have a chance to see it as it should be seen…on a big screen in a theater, alongside other film fans.

“My Best Girl” will be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at the fabled Castro Theatre in San Francisco, co-sponsored by the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) and 42nd Street Moon.

Author Jeffrey Vance tells of how he sat next to Rogers during a showing of “My Best Girl” and noted, “he would chime in with some wonderful comments. Yes, this moment had him saying ‘That’s Carole Lombard!’ [It’s something many people who have seen the film don’t realize, as she was unbilled.] During the famous packing crate love scene, he shouted proudly, ‘The first time I kissed Mary!’ and the whole audience burst into applause.”

It wouldn’t be the last time, either; Rogers married Pickford in 1937, a union that lasted until her death in 1979.

“My Best Girl” is part of a day-long program at the Castro. There’s a silent, live-action “Snow White” from 1916 at 10 a.m.; an array of Buster Keaton shorts at noon; the 1924 “The Thief Of Bagdad,” the masterpiece swashbuckler starring Pickford’s earlier husband Douglas Fairbanks Sr., at 2:30 p.m.; and director F.W. Murnau’s 1926 “Faust” at 9. Tickets for each performance are $15, though you can also get a day pass for $70 (or $50 if you’re a member of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival). To learn more, go to

As for Rogers and Lombard, they would meet again on screen in the spring of 1930 in what would be Carole’s Paramount debut, “Safety In Numbers.”

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Posted January 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Lombard, with some pad-ding   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.25 at 13:02

Current mood: amusedamused

In July 1938, Carole Lombard spent a week doing office work, specifically handling publicity for Selznick International Pictures ( But one doubts she used this while taking notes or messages:

It’s a notepad with Lombard’s picture on it, but for one thing, she probably would have deemed it too tacky. For another, it denotes her as with “Paramount,” and that wouldn’t have ingrained her with David O. Selznick, would it? (Particularly while she still harbored ambitions, albeit remote, of landing that coveted Scarlett O’Hara role in “Gone With The Wind.”)

But this 8″ x 10″ notepad –– unused –– can be yours. (The seller says there’s soiling on the bottom quarter of the pad, though I doubt anyone who obtains this at least 75-year-old artifact will actually use it for taking notes.) Bids begin at $6.99, with bids closing at 10:05 a.m. (Eastern) Thursday. If you’re interested in this Lombard rarity, visit

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Posted January 25, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

March-ing towards his leading ladies   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.24 at 14:32

Current mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable

Watching the delightful “Bedtime Story” (1941) on Turner Classic Movies last night not only reminded me that Loretta Young was more adept at comedy than she’s usually given credit for, but that co-star Fredric March had a reputation of pawing his leading ladies. Not sure he tried it with the prim Loretta, but we know he made the moves on Carole Lombard in the 1937 classic “Nothing Sacred,” who gave March his comeuppance in a rather, uh, not-safe-for-work way (

By that time, however, March’s moves were no secret to his co-stars. For proof, we turn to David Chierichetti’s excellent tome, “Mitchell Leisen: Hollywood Director,” and one of Leisen’s early triumphs (and March’s too), 1934’s original “Death Takes A Holiday”:

That’s Evelyn Venable sharing an embrace with March, and in the Leisen book, she’s quoted as saying when the cameras quit rolling, he didn’t:

“Acting with Fredric March was a pleasure until we got to the love scene. We rehearsed and did a couple of takes, and when Mitch said print it, I was expecting to get up from the couch. March kept making love to me, under the lights and with everybody watching! He touched my bosom. I was so shocked I hauled off and slugged him. He ran to his dressing room and I ran to mine and neither of us would come out. Mitch ran back and forth, trying to make peace. I said I wouldn’t come out until he apologized and eventually Mitch got him over and he mumbled something. I said, ‘That doesn’t sound like you actually mean it.’ So he said it again and we went back to work.”

But there’s a postscript, according to Venable:

“After I had married Hal Mohr, he was photographing ‘Anthony Adverse’ and I visited him one day on the set. I saw Olivia de Havilland who I knew from the play of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ I said, ‘Is Freddy giving you any trouble?’ And she rolled her eyes and said, ‘Oh yes.'”

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Posted January 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Extra, extra, read all about her!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.23 at 00:38

Current mood: creativecreative

It’s no secret that Carole Lombard was a favorite of movie fan magazines. Almost always good for copy and popular with readers, Carole regularly appeared in virtually all the mags of the day.

Now, 20 magazine articles on Lombard — most issued during her lifetime, a few coming posthumously or decades later — are available in a collection offered at eBay. They include this 1931 story from New Movie magazine on Carole and her hometown of Fort Wayne, written by Robert Baral of that city’s Journal-Gazette (and check out the photo of Elizabeth Peters from her amateur theater days!)…

…the “Intimate History of Carole Lombard” from an undated Movie Mirror (though with a “My Man Godfrey” reference, we know it’s no earlier than 1936)…

…and these other items:

* “Still A Fan,” written by Jerry Asher about Una Merkel’s admiration of Lombard. Silver Screen, undated.

* “The Evolution of a Bathing Beauty,” photo feature from unknown magazine. (Editor’s note: Research has shown this to be from Motion Picture magazine, September 1938.)

* “Home Maker Lombard,” Screen Book, November 1939.

* “Serious Side of a Screwball,” Screenland, 1938?

* “Coiffures that compliment your type,” Lombard is one of six featured stars, Modern Screen, March 1941

* “How to Keep ’em Interested,” advice to the lovelorn from Lombard, Clark Gable and others, undated

* “Carole Lombard, Loveable Madcap,” Hollywood Studio Magazine, undated

* “Carole Lombard: She Dedicated her life to laughter, love and liberty,” Nostalgia magazine?

* “Screwball Comedy’s Queen,” the Washington Post, January 1992

* “A Gallant Lady, Carole Lombard,” Liberty magazine, February 1942

* “Carole Lombard Betrays Herself,” Hollywood magazine, January 1937

* “Why Powell and Lombard Are Separating,” Movie Mirror 1933?

* “There Are 7 Kinds of Love,” by Lombard, Photoplay, October 1933

* “How Sylvia changed ‘Carole of the curves’ into Svelte Carole Lombard,” Photoplay, April 1933

* “The Evolution of a ‘Wow’!,” Movie Mirror, undated

* “When Carole Lombard Loafs,” Hollywood magazine, undated

* “Shall We Call It Love or Friendship?,” some Lombard but mostly Harlow and William Powell, Screen Book, October 1934

* “Modern Screen’s Dramatic School, the many moods of Lombard,” undated

That’s a pretty good batch of Lombard articles…and it can be yours for at least $30 (that’s the minimum bid). Bidding ends at 11:36 a.m. (Eastern) on Monday. If you’d like to bid, visit Oh, and if you do land this collection, please share some of these stories with us. Thank you.

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Posted January 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Completing the Columbia Carole   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.22 at 13:57

Current mood: pleasedpleased

That’s Carole Lombard with Lyle Talbot in a publicity still from 1932’s “No More Orchids.” It and two other Lombard Columbia films — “Brief Moment” from 1933 and “Lady By Choice” from 1934 — are finally officially available on DVD, as the Turner Classic Movies Vault collection has issued “Carole Lombard In The Thirties,” produced by Sony Home Video, news that was announced last fall (

Dan Day Jr. at “The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog” (with a title like that, you know he’s a White Sox fan) received an advance copy, and here’s some of what he had to say about it:

“It’s also nice that the set is not on DVD-R, and even better, each movie gets its own disc, instead of all three being crammed on one. … Like other TCM Vault Collections, all the films have still & poster galleries as extras. The set was produced by Sony Home Video, and like all their product the sound and picture quality is at a very high standard.”

Day’s full review is at

TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, who has publicly expressed his fondness for Lombard (, provides introductions to the films. Learn more about the set at, where you currently can order it at a $5 discount from its list price of $34.99.

Columbia becomes the first studio with at least three Lombard films to have all of them officially issued on North American DVD (“Virtue” was part of a TCM pre-Code box set last year, while “Twentieth Century” has been out for some time). Of RKO’s four releases, “They Knew What They Wanted” is still held up, presumably because of rights issues with the estate of Sidney Howard, who wrote the play that was adapted into the film. And many of Carole’s Paramount films (most now owned by Universal) have yet to see the light of day on DVD…perhaps some of them will get that treatment if this sells well.

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Posted January 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Tennis, anyone? (part 2)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.21 at 10:17

Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Three weeks after we saw her on the tennis court (, Carole Lombard is back, with a look as formidable as her game (and gams). This is a slightly earlier photo, p1202-1173 from sometime in 1935 (the seller incorrectly labels it as from 1938), and it’s an image I’ve never seen before.

No one has bid on this yet, surprising since the opening bid is a mere $8.99. Bidding is slated to close at 2:38 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. This would be an ideal gift for anyone who loves Lombard and/or tennis. To bid or get more information, visit

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Posted January 21, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole, Naomi and ‘bob’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.01.18 at 12:48

Current mood: impressedimpressed

Carole Lombard may have left us more than 71 years ago, but she continues to exert influence on Hollywood style. And here’s proof from one of the industry’s top current stars.

Naomi Watts, who’s excelled in a variety of roles, dazzled onlookers at the recent Golden Globes with a hairstyle that mimicked the short hair look, but actually wasn’t. The result was this:

It’s inspired by the “Olympic bob” Lombard popularized in 1932 for the Summer Games held in Los Angeles that year (, though this version is side-swept, creating an illusion of shorter hair. Stylist Giannandrea Marongiu calls it an updated take on classic Hollywood, and one can imagine a 2013 Lombard giving it a try.

Interested? You can learn how to create the look at

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Posted January 18, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized