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 ( 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

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