Archive for June 2013

‘The New Movie Magazine,’ July 1935: I dated Carole Lombard, and spent only…   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.30 at 07:19
Current mood: jealousjealous

carole lombard p1202-1161b

Well, at least that’s what I would have titled the following story. A lucky guy gets a chance to date Carole Lombard…something that for millions of American men in 1935 would have been akin to hitting the jackpot. Isn’t that the angle?

Not for the overwhelmingly feminine readership of The New Movie Magazine. It’s the “and spent only…” that resonates with them; after all, if a movie star can have a satisfactory night out on a minimal budget, shouldn’t a mere mortal lass be able to do likewise with her beau?

That explains why Lombard isn’t in the story’s title, which happens to be…

carole lombard the new movie magazine july 1935aa
carole lombard the new movie magazine july 1935ba
carole lombard the new movie magazine july 1935ca

…the comparatively generic “$10 Is a Lot of Money.”

I don’t know much about the author, John Casey (other than that I envy him), but I’m guessing this date took place in early 1935, when Carole headed east for a little while:

carole lombard 1935 new york train larger

So here was the itinerary: From Lombard’s home base at the Waldorf-Astoria, she and Casey took a crosstown bus to Radio City Music Hall…

radio city music hall 02
radio city music hall 00

…where they saw (or chatted through) George Arliss in “The Iron Duke,” which premiered at Radio City in late January 1935:

From there, it was downtown on the Sixth Avenue El, demolished in 1940 after the Sixth Avenue IND subway line had effectively taken its place…

new york 6th avenue el bleecker street large

…to Eighth Avenue and a Greenwich Village spot called The Barn. There, they danced, enjoyed the country-oriented floor show, and the proprietor had Carole paint a message on its wall; she wrote, “$10 Is a Lot of Money.” (So that explains the title!)

They strolled over to the Washington Square arch…

…and after counting their money, boarded an uptown Fifth Avenue bus (something you can’t do anymore, as Fifth Avenue soon was converted into a one-way street heading downtown). They got off near the Plaza Hotel at the southern edge of Central Park, where they hopped onto a hansom cab (what could be more romantic?), although the driver didn’t recognize Lombard, which was fine with her…

…and wound up at Tavern-On-The-Green, a Central Park landmark. (I took a date there many years ago, and it’s nice to think I have something in common with Carole.)

The cabbie, in a generous mood (and perhaps inspired by the ale Lombard provided, not to mention sugar cubes for the horse) gave them a free ride to Lexington Avenue and East 50th Street…right on the corner where the Waldorf-Astoria was located. That was a break, because all they had left of their $10 was a mere seven cents.

Carole told him, “Thanks for the most fun I’ve had since I don’t remember when.”

All in all, a delightful date, one Casey said proved average people can “have fun on $10 or even less.” You will, however, notice that nowhere in the story does he say anything about stealing a kiss from Carole or anything to that effect. Either Casey doesn’t kiss and tell, or he has an awfully low libido for someone squiring Lombard.

But it’s good that Carole enjoyed her inexpensive sojourn in Manhattan; perhaps part of it was in the back of her mind later that year when she rode a bus on a fictional Fifth Avenue with Fred MacMurray in “Hands Across The Table.”

carole lombard hands across the table 41b

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Posted June 30, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Hurry — it’s a “Safety’ squeeze   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.29 at 12:21
Current mood: rushedrushed

carole lombard safety in numbers 102a

Two photos that appear to be from Carole Lombard’s first film for Paramount, 1930’s “Safety in Numbers,” are being sold for a discount price of $10 at eBay (each are regularly $13.50)…but the deadline is early Sunday. Both are 8″ x 10″ reprints. In addition to the one above, this image is available:

carole lombard safety in numbers 103a

To purchase the one at the top, go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-B-W-8×10-Photo-02-/281128405926?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41748f0ba6; for the one at the bottom, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-B-W-8×10-Photo-/271230714157?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f269c412d.

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Posted June 29, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole: Don’t typecast me!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.28 at 12:34
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

carole lombard my man godfrey 066b

“My Man Godfrey” did wonderful things for Carole Lombard. It provided her with an Academy Award nomination for best actress, it lifted her into the top tier of stars, and made her one of the industry’s most bankable actresses. But while Lombard no doubt appreciated “Godfrey’s” benefits, she was concerned about one of its potential drawbacks. (Such insecurity is typical of actors; you no doubt have heard the old story about one negative review drawing a stronger reaction than a hundred positive ones.)

Her fear: Being typecast.

Look at it from Lombard’s perspective. After several years of effectively wandering in the Hollywood wilderness as an all-purpose player with little distinctive qualities. Carole had drawn critical attention in the spring of 1934 for her turn opposite John Barrymore in “Twentieth Century.” That was done on loanout to Columbia, and at first it appeared her home studio of Paramount wasn’t paying attention; her next few films continued to meander. Upon becoming Paramount’s head of production in 1935, noted director Ernst Lubitsch recognized what Carole had to offer and put her in a first-class vehicle, the critically-lauded romantic comedy “Hands Across The Table.” (Lubitsch’s short-lived ascension to head of production marked the first and only time a director wielded such power.)

Now, Lombard had struck gold again with “Godfrey”…but she again was digging from the comedy mine. She looked at some of her peers in the industry — Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow at MGM, Ginger Rogers at RKO, Claudette Colbert and Marlene Dietrich at her home base of Paramount — and while many were identified as primarily comedic actresses, none were strictly limited to that genre. Yes, Carole enjoyed doing comedy, and had since Mack Sennett days, but she didn’t want to be restricted by the cinematic border patrol.

So in May of 1937, which syndicated columnist Robbin Coons asked her to guest-write (or perhaps ghost-write) a column, Lombard had the ideal topic. This is how it ran in the May 30 Portsmouth (Ohio) Times:

carole lombard 053037 portsmouth times 00
carole lombard 053037 portsmouth times 01

It’s interesting that she mentions “True Confession,” but has nothing to say about the other Lombard movie released that fall, “Nothing Sacred.” (To be fair, by late May 1937 it had not yet gone into production.) Perhaps the ghost-writer, if there was one, hailed from Paramount’s publicity office. Carole’s comments about being “full of surprises” are indicative of her shrewd sense of public relations, and the note about knowing her limitations played to her distrust of putting on airs.

As things turned out, the critical brickbats she received for the weak “Fools For Scandal” in the spring of 1938 led her to go in a non-comedic direction, not returning to laughter until “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” in early 1941.

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Posted June 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

For gay brides (and straight ones, too), some Bull…and a song   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.27 at 00:27
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard the gay bride poster 00a

Following a day in which the U.S. Supreme Court solidified same-sex marriage, it seemed appropriate to have a “Carole & Co.” entry where the topic was “The Gay Bride,” Carole Lombard’s only film for MGM. (It’s not a very good movie, but nowhere as bad as Lombard claimed it was.) This deals with a portrait of Lombard and co-star Chester Morris…

carole lombard the gay bride 27a clarence sinclair bull front

…taken by MGM photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull, best known for his portraits of Greta Garbo:

carole lombard the gay bride 27a clarence sinclair bull back

Bull took several solo photos of Lombard for the film, but this is the first I’ve seen which pairs her with Morris.

It’s an 8″ x 10″ double-weight semi-gloss, slightly trimmed, in excellent condition. It’s being sold for $99.95; to purchase it or learn more, visithttp://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-CHESTER-MORRIS-VINTAGE-8×10-PHOTO-BY-CLARENCE-BULL-THE-GAY-BRIDE-/190862478000?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c704a4ab0.

To close, here’s something from actress/activist Marsha Hunt, a Paramount cohort of Carole’s in the mid-1930s:

It’s a song she wrote, “Here’s To All Who Love”:

marsha hunt here's to all who love 00a

Carol McArthur performed it earlier this year, and it’s followed by a conversation with Hunt about how she wrote the song:

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Posted June 26, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Marketing Lombard movies   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.26 at 12:25
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard p1202-1418b

The year of 1936 solidified Carole Lombard’s ascent in the film firmament. She had unveiled her comedic chops in 1934 with “Twentieth Century,” then the following year proved it wasn’t an aberration by making “Hands Across The Table,” a first-class comedy at her home studio of Paramount. Suddenly, Lombard was big box office in a way she had never been before…and it’s indicated by the way her movies now were marketed by the studios making them.

Let’s examine The Film Daily, one of the industry’s leading trade papers, for proof. On May 14, it ran a two-page ad from Paramount promoting Lombard’s latest vehicle, “The Princess Comes Across”:

carole lombard the princess comes across film daily 051436aa
carole lombard the princess comes across film daily 051436ba

Universal, a smaller studio in a state of flux as founder Carl Laemmle was on the verge of selling his property, released two films from Carole that year. The first, “Love Before Breakfast,” received next to no promotion in Film Daily...but come Aug. 18, it was under new management and sought to push her second Universal movie, “My Man Godfrey”:

carole lombard my man godfrey film daily 081836a

Trade publications regularly ran multi-page sections from studios promoting their upcoming season. Here are a few Lombard-related pages from Paramount’s 1936-37 season announcement on July 16:

carole lombard film daily 071636 paramount announces season 01a
carole lombard film daily 071636 paramount announces season 02a
carole lombard film daily 071636 paramount announces season 00b

Note that Carole was initially cast in “Spawn Of The North,” opposite Cary Grant and Randolph Scott in an outdoor Technicolor production; she fell ill and eventually withdrew from the movie, which would be released in 1938 with Henry Fonda, George Raft and Dorothy Lamour (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/137095.html). And “Panama Gal” is obviously an early version of what would become “Swing High, Swing Low” — though it appears more lighthearted than the finished product.

In that July 16 issue, Lombard briefly commented on the “Topics of Timely Interest” page about Hollywood’s revival as a party mecca compared to Broadway:

carole lombard film daily 071636a

It’s fun to look back at publications of the time and examine their advertising campaigns, especially since they are now online and you can see things not only in spot color, but full color. How about this ad from the Jan. 7 Film Daily, a gorgeous rendering of Myrna Loy from MGM on behalf of her latest film, “Whipsaw”:

myrna loy film daily 010736a

“Spawn Of The North” was planned to follow in the footsteps of “The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine,” whose status was colorfully promoted in the Feb. 3 issue:

film daily 020336 trail of the lonesome pine 00a
film daily 020336 trail of the lonesome pine 01a

MGM was excited about its upcoming “San Francisco,” and proved it on May 28:

film daily 052836 san francisco 00a
film daily 052836 san francisco 01a

20th Century-Fox went all out in the Sept. 16 issue on behalf of its color production “Ramona,” starring Loretta Young in the adaptation of Helen Hunt Jackson’s famed tale of old California:

film daily 091636 ramona 00a
film daily 091636 ramona 01a
film daily 091636 ramona 02a
film daily 091636 ramona 03a

Even the occasional re-release could warrant promotion, albeit on nowhere as lavish a scale. On May 26, Warners ran an ad noting a reissue of 1932’s “Taxi!”, starring James Cagney opposite Young (who took over when Carole refused a loanout in late 1931), had done well in a New York run and encouraged theaters in other markets to give it a try:

film daily 052636 taxi reissue

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Posted June 26, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Submitted for your approval…again (RIP, Richard Matheson)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.25 at 00:53
Current mood: weirdweird

carole lombard p1202-907a front

We rarely, if ever, repeat entries from the “Carole & Co.” archives, but today, we’re making an exception to honor the memory of one of the best writers of our time, Richard Matheson, who left us Sunday at age 87.

richard matheson 00

Matheson was a master of fiction, best known for his fantasy tales such as “Bid Time Return,” “I Am Legend,” “What Dreams May Come” and “The Shrinking Man.” You know the last one better as the 1957 sci-fi classic “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” as Matheson adapted his novel into a screenplay, one of many he would pen. He also wrote numerous “Twilight Zone” episodes.

What does this have to do with Carole Lombard, you ask? Read on and find out.
_________________________________________

Submitted for your approval…

Posted by vp19 on 2009.10.17 at 12:34

“The Twilight Zone” has re-entered the public consciousness of late, since it was 50 years ago this month that Rod Serling’s anthology of fantasy storytelling premiered on CBS, where it would last for five seasons. Serling, already renowned as one of TV’s best writers (and, like me, a native upstate New Yorker), gathered some of the entertainment industry’s best talent — writers, actors, directors — for a series that was invariably thought-provoking. It’s been revived on TV a few times (though neither version had the literate veneer that marked the original). The Serling episodes remain popular, and the Sci-Fi channel invariably gets good ratings when it conducts its occasional marathons of some of those episodes.

Some of those episodes featured people who had either worked with or knew Carole Lombard. One of the first episodes shown, “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” was directed by Mitchell Leisen and starred Ida Lupino. Burgess Meredith starred in several episodes, and character actor Ernest Truex guested in one. But did you know Lombard herself appeared in an episode?

No, I haven’t gone off the deep end, nor did Mr. Serling find a time machine to transport his crew to the 1930s (a concept that, come to think of it, might have made for a good “Twilight Zone” episode). The key word is “appeared”; we see an image of Carole, adding to the plot.

It came in episode 99, “Young Man’s Fancy,” which aired on May 11, 1962 starring Alex Nicol and Phyllis Thaxter.

The premise? We’ll let Serling explain it in his own words (as the show’s host, he introduced all the episodes):

“You’re looking at the house of the late Mrs. Henrietta Walker. This is Mrs. Walker herself, as she appeared twenty-five years ago. And this, except for isolated objects, is the living room of Mrs. Walker’s house, as it appeared in that same year. The other rooms upstairs and down are much the same. The time, however, is not twenty-five years ago but now. The house of the late Henrietta Walker is, you see, a house which belongs almost entirely to the past, a house which, like Mrs. Walker’s clock here, has ceased to recognize the passage of time. Only one element is missing now, one remaining item in the estate of the late Mrs. Walker: her son Alex (Nicol), thirty-four years of age and, up until twenty minutes ago, the so-called ‘perennial bachelor.’ With him is his bride, the former Miss Virginia Lane (Thaxter). They’re returning from the city hall in order to get Mr. Walker’s clothes packed, make final arrangements for the sale of the house, lock it up and depart on their honeymoon. Not a complicated set of tasks, it would appear, and yet the newlywed Mrs’ Walker is about to discover that the old adage ‘You can’t go home again’ has little meaning in the Twilight Zone.”

That’s right — apparently the house is exerting a strange power over Alex, who decides not to sell it. Virginia believes the spirit of his dead mother is causing this. Then the house itself begins to change, to revert to its past. Appliances develop a 1930s look…music from that era begins playing on a 78 rpm record…and items from a quarter-century ago begin materializing throughout the house — including this magazine:

I’m guessing that was not an actual magazine from the 1930s, but one created as a prop. Lombard, who had been gone for more than two decades when this episode aired, was probably viewed as a perfect symbol of the past. I’ve never seen the original script — written by famed writer and frequent “Zone” contributor Richard Matheson — so I don’t know whether it was his idea, or someone else’s, to put Lombard there.

Eventually Alex’s mother reappears on the stairs, and Alex himself re-emerges as a young boy:

Virginia is told to leave, and as she does, Serling closes the episode with this:

“Exit Miss Virginia Lane, formerly and most briefly Mrs. Alex Walker. She has just given up a battle and in a strange way retreated, but this has been a retreat back to reality. Her opponent, Alex Walker, will now and forever hold a line that exists in the past. He has put a claim on a moment in time and is not about to relinquish it. Such things do happen — in the Twilight Zone.”

“Young Man’s Fancy,” which ran near the end of the show’s third season, isn’t one of its better-remembered episodes; in fact, some fans of the series don’t like it, arguing the concept is either too Oedipal or too reminiscent of “Psycho” (I concur with the former, but I don’t see the latter). Many wish the mother had been more menacing, making it more of a battle of wills.
_________________________________________

Thanks to Richard Matheson, Carole Lombard returned to public consciousness, however briefly, in a forum other than “The Late, Late Show.” And again, thanks to a writer who inspired future generations.

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Posted June 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Of ‘Sinners’ and ‘Safety’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.06.24 at 09:38
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard sinners in the sun 40 front

Two original photos from Carole Lombard’s early years at Paramount are being sold at eBay. Above is this still from 1932’s “Sinners In The Sun” — we know it’s from that film because there’s a studio stamp on the back:

carole lombard sinners in the sun 40 back

It’s 8″ x 10″, in very good condition and can be yours for $30. To purchase or learn more, go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/Spectacular-Original-Carole-LOMBARD-in-SINNERS-IN-THE-SUN-1932-/190861182153?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c703684c9.

The other is from her Paramount debut, in the spring of 1930 where she played a Follies girl in the Buddy Rogers romp “Safety In Numbers”:

carole lombard safety in numbers 101 front
carole lombard safety in numbers 101 back

It’s playing at the Paramount “Thursday. May 29” (a check of a 1930 calendar reveals that date is accurate), though it didn’t receive a stamp from the “Examiner” library until June. But which Examiner (most likely a Hearst paper)? Probably the one in Los Angeles, as that city’s downtown Paramount was one of the studio’s flagship venues. Here’s how its interior looked…

los angeles paramount interior 00

…and its exterior in 1933, when the Claudette Colbert film “Three-Cornered Moon” was playing:

los angeles paramount 1933

As in the case of the RKO Hillstreet mentioned a few days ago, the Paramount — which began life as a Sid Grauman theater, the Metropolitan — met an early demise, razed in the early ’60s.

The photo on sale, taken by Eugene Robert Richee, measures 8 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ (though it has been trimmed). Like its “Sinners” counterpart, it’s being sold straight up for $30. Want it, or curious? Visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/Orig-Carole-LOMBARD-Buddy-ROGERS-SAFETY-IN-NUMBERS-1930-/190861181498?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c7036823a.

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Posted June 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized