Archive for August 2013

Kick off with Carole   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.31 at 01:11
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard picture play december 1938d

Carole Lombard, sitting in a car, graced the December 1938 cover of Picture Play...but the ostensible reason she was aboard could be found in that little cardinal-and-gold decal in the front window. Carole supposedly was headed down to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to watch the University of Southern California play football.

Lombard was no stranger to football, or the Coliseum; in the mid-twenties, according to Lombard biographer Larry Swindell, she supposedly handed a trophy to the winner of the Stanford-Southern Cal game (the visitors from Palo Alto won in both 1924 and ’25). This weekend marks the start of the college football season — action began Thursday night and continues through Labor Day (heck, today I’ll be at Scott Stadium watch the University of Virginia open its season versus visiting Brigham Young) — and as fate would have it, two vintage college football programs that feature a Lombard advertisement are being sold or auctioned at eBay. The ad is the same in both cases, from Lucky Strike in the fall of 1937:

carole lombard lucky strike 1937 large color ad 00

We’ll start with the program on sale; it’s from Nov. 25, 1937, and despite it being Thanksgiving, it’s homecoming for Louisiana Normal against visiting Southwestern. The cover is a bit torn…

carole lombard 112537 southwestern at louisiana normal cover large

…but inside, all the players are identified:

carole lombard 112537 southwestern at louisiana normal lineups large

You say you’ve never heard of these colleges? Well, they’re still around, but under different names. “Louisiana Normal” (then a teachers’ college), was later renamed Northwestern State University. “Southwestern” was known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana not all that long ago, but it now goes by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (another UL campus is in Monroe, at the school formerly labeled Northeast Louisiana).

How’d the game turn out? Normal won 7-0, ending its season at 4-4-1; Southwestern finished 4-3-2.

This program, in fair condition, sells for $14.95. To purchase or learn more, go to

The other program, from Oct. 23, is another intrastate homecoming battle, this between Trinity College of Hartford and Connecticut State, the institution now known as the University of Connecticut (and smarting from a 15-point upset loss to unheralded Towson Thursday night):

carole lombard 102337 trinity at connecticut state cover large

We have some samples of what was inside, including a story of the wide variety of college team names:

carole lombard 102337 trinity at connecticut state 01a
carole lombard 102337 trinity at connecticut state 07a

Incidentally, what were Connecticut State’s teams called? The University of Connecticut’s are called Huskies, probably a tie-in to the school nickname “UConn” (as in “Yukon” — get it?), but I’m not sure that applied to the earlier years of the institution.

Among the other ads were two for orchestras, one well-known at the time (Isham Jones), regularly performing at the Hotel Lincoln in New York, the other a local outfit (the Connecticut Collegians) on the lookout for dates on the Storrs campus and environs:

carole lombard 102337 trinity at connecticut state 05a
carole lombard 102337 trinity at connecticut state 08a

Connecticut State won 15-0, en route to a 6-2-1 season.

The seller deems the 16-page program in “Very good condition overall, with minor edgewear, chipping, bends, spotting, age-toning of paper.” Bids open at $9.99, with bidding slated to end at 5:33 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. If you’re interested, check out

Best wishes to your favorite team this fall…unless they happen to be on the schedule of one of my favorites.

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Posted August 31, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A gal and her gelding, part 2   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.30 at 02:34
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard p1202-1677d

Last month, we showed a Paramount publicity photo of Carole Lombard with her beloved Palomino gelding, Pico ( Now, Carole is back with another equine image, p1202-1677, which likely was issued simultaneously with another pic, p1202-1678:

carole lombard p1202-1678c

As for p1202-1677, it measures 5″ x 7″, was taken by Paramount photographer Don English, and features this snipe on the back:

carole lombard p1202-1677a back

(Uh, it’s “mane,” not “maine.”)

The photo is in very good condition; according to the seller, “there is some minor wear to the surface.”

Bids open at $9.99, with bidding closing at 9:06 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. If you’re interested in possibly adding this Hollywood equine photograph to your stable, visit

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Posted August 30, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Today, the glorious Glenda   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.29 at 02:22
Current mood: pleasedpleased

carole lombard fools for scandal 121737c mervyn leroy fernand gravet

Carole Lombard made only one movie for Warners, and it was the wrong film at the wrong time. “Fools For Scandal,” which began production late in 1937 as Carole was coming off the twin triumphs of “Nothing Sacred” and “True Confession” and was released in the spring of 1938, turned out to be a major disappointment. Many who went to see probably wished they could have followed the lead of Lombard, director Mervyn LeRoy (left) and co-star Fernand Gravet and read a newspaper instead.

Warners was a successful studio in 1938…but not in the romantic/screwball comedy field that was Carole’s strength. Had she made movies for them in the pre-Code era, Warners’ spunky urban dynamism would have been a perfect match for her — especially since Warners undeniably had the best stock company in the business that could complement any star. And today, for “Summer Under The Stars,” Turner Classic Movies is airing 24 hours of one of that great troupe’s members. Her name: Glenda Farrell.

glenda farrell 00a

Casual classic film fans may not know much about Farrell, but she had a substantial career, working in an array of movies of various genres at various studios, though most of her best-known work was made at Warners.

glenda farrell 01a

Like fellow Warners star Kay Francis, Glenda was born in the Oklahoma territory, on June 30, 1901 (as was the case with many actresses, she shaved a few years off her age, publicly listing a birth date of June 30, 1904. For much of the 1920s, she did theater work, gaining her first notable screen role in 1930 as Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s girlfriend in “Little Caesar” (directed by LeRoy), a role she won only because first choice Lila Lee fell ill.

By 1932, she had signed a Warners contract, making several films with Joan Blondell (a 2011 SUTS honoree); they became close friends. In the ’30s, Joan wrote of Glenda,

“No one would be able to enjoy a case of the blues with Glenda around. She would start to console you and before you realized it you’d be laughing and it wouldn’t be because Glenda had made an effort to amuse you. She just can’t help but be funny…

“Glenda and I do the same type of role which means that she must share her honors with me. With most girls such a state of affairs just wouldn’t work, they would want their honors all to themselves. Not so with Glenda. In fact, she goes to the other extreme to build me up in my comedy.”

glenda farrell joan blondell 00a

Farrell and Blondell were similar types, vivacious and funny, but compared to Joan’s luminosity, Glenda was relatively unglamorous. However, Farrell’s strength was being the ultimate “fast-talking dame” — and it paid off for her in playing newspaperwomen, notably Torchy Blane, the sleuth she portrayed in a popular series of second features. Several are part of TCM’s schedule, and here’s the lineup (all times Eastern):

* 6 a.m. — “Little Caesar” (1930)
* 7:30 a.m. — “I’ve Got Your Number” (1934, a comedy with Blondell)
* 9 a.m. — “The Personality Kid” (1934, drama)

glenda farrell joan blondell kansas city princess 00a

* 10:15 a.m. — “Kansas City Princess” (1934, comedy with Blondell, above)
* 11:30 a.m. — “Snowed Under” (1936, comedy with George Brent and Frank McHugh)
* 12:45 p.m. — “Fly Away Baby” (1937, the first of a septet of Torchy Blane films, albeit not in chronological order)
* 2 p.m. — “The Adventurous Blonde” (1937)
* 3:15 p.m. — “Blondes At Work” (1938)
* 4:30 p.m. — “Torchy Gets Her Man” (1938)
* 5:45 p.m. — “Torchy Blane in Chinatown” (1938)
* 6:45 p.m. — “Torchy Runs For Mayor” (1939)

glenda farrell smart blonde 00a barton maclane

* 8 p.m. — “Smart Blonde” (1936, first in the Torchy series, shown with Barton MacLane as her detective boyfriend)

glenda farrell mystery of the wax museum 00a

* 9:15 p.m. — “Mystery Of The Wax Museum” (1933, in two-strip Technicolor, with Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray, released a few weeks before “King Kong”)

glenda farrell paul muni i am a fugitive from a chain gang 00a

* 10:45 p.m. — “I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang” (1932, adirected by LeRoy, as Glenda plays the woman who marries Muni after he flees southern “justice”)
* 12:30 a.m. — “Gold Diggers Of 1935” (1935)
* 2:15 a.m. — “Gold Diggers Of 1937” (1936)
* 4 a.m. — “The Talk Of The Town” (1942, with Glenda acting in support of Cary Grant and Ronald Colman)

My mother, who’s 92, never met Glenda, but in the late ’30s worked for Western Union in New York and delivered a package to Farrell’s apartment in Manhattan.

Farrell died in 1971, just shy of what would have been her 70th birthday. She is buried alongside her husband, a U.S. Military Academy graduate she married in 1941, at the West Point cemetery.

I presume Glenda met Carole Lombard at one time or another, though Farrell admitted later in life she rarely socialized much with personnel from other studios aside from occasional loanouts. However, Glenda and Carole do have something in common — an unsuccessful romantic relationship with screenwriter Robert Riskin:

glenda farrell tommy farrell robert riskin 00a

Judging from the “33” on the California license plate, Riskin (shown with Farrell and her son, Tommy Farrell, from a previous marriage) romanced Glenda before he turned to Lombard.

Glenda Farrell is ripe for rediscovery, and here are two sites to help you do just that. “Glenda Farrell: Her Life And Legacy” ( is a well-researched biography, and “Glenda Farrell: In Her Own Words” (, culled from a variety of interviews, lets Glenda discuss her career.

This promises to be a fun day, one of the highlights of this year’s “Summer Under The Stars.”

glenda farrell home 1936a

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Posted August 29, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A Hollywood holy grail, found (sort of) via…radio   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.28 at 09:17
Current mood: surprisedsurprised

carole lombard p1202-741cjean harlow 020c

Both are on virtually anyone’s list of iconic blondes, right up there with Marilyn Monroe. Like Monroe, they left us much too soon. Both were beloved in the film community, were contemporaries and became friends. But a photo of both Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow has proven tantalizingly hard to find.

Until now.

It’s hardly a classic image, to be sure, and it’s placed in the context of a story set in a non-cinematic medium (which may be why it’s been under our noses so long). Moreover, it was altered for the effect of said story. Still, it’s a start. Thanks to the Media History Digital Library (and Harlow maven Darrell Rooney, who uncovered it), Carole and Jean in the same photo have finally been tracked down.

It ran in the July 1935 issue of, believe it or not, Radio Mirror. It’s part of an article about a feud between two broadcasters better known for their work as newspaper columnists — Walter Winchell, representing Broadway, and Jimmie Fidler, based in Hollywood. Here’s the image as it ran over two pages of the magazine (it’s an extreme horizontal pic):

carole lombard jean harlow radio mirror july 1935d

As previously noted, neither Harlow nor Lombard are at their most alluring (Carole’s focused on Russ Columbo — this was taken sometime in 1934, when Fidler and Columbo hosted “Hollywood On The Air” — and Jean’s got those sunglasses on), and the editors superimposed drawings of Hatfield-McCoy mountaineers on each side of the photo, thus lessening its modern-day value. One wishes to go back to ’35 to knock some sense into those editors…or even better, to arrange some other joint photos of Jean and Carole.

Because the pages don’t line up, Rooney says he initially wasn’t aware of what he had, at first thinking they were separate photos — but the presence of Columbo’s shoulder makes it obvious both sides are from the same picture. Here are two more versions of the shot — first, focusing on the photo over the two-page spread, then a cropped version without the hillbillies’ shotguns:

carole lombard jean harlow radio mirror july 1935a
carole lombard jean harlow radio mirror july 1935c

Seeing this photo brings into question other stories about the Lombard-Harlow relationship, such as, just when did it start? In a November 1935 Photoplay piece, “Hollywood’s Scrambled Love,” writer Dorothy Manners says they had never met until after an incident at the Clover Club:

carole lombard photoplay november 1935d

But note Manners says Lombard was with Robert Riskin, who didn’t return to her life until after Columbo’s death in September 1934, before the picture was taken. So that more or less puts the lie to Manners’ contention…now one wonders if Jean and Carole first had met as candidates for parts in “The Greeks Had A Word For Them” in 1931? (As it turned out, neither one would appear in the movie.)

Let’s return to the Winchell-Fidler feud. (Over the years, each had public disputes with others, Winchell notably with Ben Bernie and fellow columnist Ed Sullivan, Fidler with Errol Flynn and Constance Bennett.) The Radio Mirror story provides some fascinating background not only on their relationship, but on the making of the photo above:

carole lombard radio mirror july 1935aa
carole lombard radio mirror july 1935ba
carole lombard radio mirror july 1935ca
carole lombard radio mirror july 1935da

So what happened to the Winchell-Fidler feud? This turf battle between Broadway and Hollywood probably fizzled out, as each had other fish to fry.

Lombard had good relationships with both, serving as frequent subject matter for Fidler and twice writing guest columns while Winchell was vacationing ( If Carole had felt slighted by Winchell not mentioning her name on his program the night following the Fidler broadcast, that had long since been forgotten. (Lombard’s grudges were few.)

As for the picture? According to the Radio Mirror story, Fidler obtained the negatives of the publicity pictures, taken following the Columbo program; what he did with them is anyone’s guess. Fidler died in 1988, but had three daughters; perhaps the original photo, or others taken that evening, is in the family’s possession. If so, they are sitting on a memorabilia goldmine.

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Posted August 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Hollywood,’ February 1935: Lombard learns life’s lessons   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.27 at 13:48
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

carole lombard p1202-1067b

Many outsiders might have been tempted to doubt Carole Lombard’s resiliency as 1934 transitioned to 1935. While professionally, her star was rising thanks to her triumph in the previous spring’s “Twentieth Century,” her personal life was in a volatile state after the sudden accidental passing over the Labor Day weekend of her beau, Russ Columbo. Whether or not they would have eventually married — some who knew her at the time say yes, other contemporaries say no — his death definitely affected her deeply.

But Carole came through what was a very difficult time in her life, and for the February 1935 issue of Hollywood magazine, with Ruby Keeler on its cover…

hollywood february 1935 cover ruby keeler

…Lombard wrote (or had written through a ghost) about the things she’d learned through her 26-plus (or 25-plus, if you preferred to believe studio publicists) years on this planet. Titled “What Life Has Taught Me” (and sub-titled “Confessions of a near-fatalist”), it’s a remarkable view of Carole the philosopher, and well worth the read:

carole lombard hollywood february 1935a
carole lombard hollywood february 1935b
carole lombard hollywood february 1935c

Some thoughts on the piece, which showed Carole to be that rare person who could be a fatalist without being cynical:

* Just who might have been that rich “young man” with whom she fell in love with “about five or six years ago” (considering this was probably written late in 1934, that would mean in 1928 or ’29)? Might it have been Howard Hughes, who may have been the first man she was physically intimate with ( But there’s an interesting coda to this anecdote that leads one to believe Hughes is not the man in question:

Not long ago this young man called me up and said he wanted to talk to me. It had been several years since I had seen him. He asked me, in a sort of blind desperation, what he should do with his life.

“You must give me some sort of philosophy to carry me through,” he said.

I told him that I still believed one must make up his mind to what he wanted and go after it.

“But be sure that what you want is worthwhile,” I said.

From what we know about Hughes, “blind desperation” was not a term normally applied to him, nor was he the type to seek philosophic information from women…or men, for that matter.

* Early in her career, Lombard gained a reputation in the industry as someone with a great deal of “story sense,” which made her an ideal sounding board for writers. This article indicates her time at Pathe, when everyone was learning their way through this brave new world of talking pictures, may have been the catalyst…and might have been one of the things that led Orson Welles to praise her innate knowledge of making films nearly half a century later.

* The W. Somerset Maugham piece Lombard is referring to is his 1933 re-telling of a Sumerian tale called “Appointment In Samarra.” Here it is in its entirety:

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.”

The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?”

“That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

(The year after Maugham’s story was issued, John O’Hara used it as the title of his first novel about life in a small Pennsylvania town; I have no idea whether Lombard had read it at the time this piece was written, or even if she ever read it at all.)

Hollywood regularly asked stars to answer questions from readers. Here’s what Lombard answered in that issue:

carole lombard hollywood february 1935d

Lombard also figures in an anecdote of that issue’s review of filmland life, written by star Dolores Del Rio. It takes place at the Clover Club on Sunset Boulevard, a venue where Alice Faye performed in February of ’35…

020635 clover club sunset boulevard

…and which was regularly shut down for illegal gambling, closing for good in 1938. Carole’s partner at the club that night is someone who also was affected by Columbo’s death:

carole lombard hollywood february 1935eb
carole lombard hollywood february 1935fb

The issue has a nice piece on Lombard’s first husband, William Powell, and that the “new” persona he was developing really wasn’t new at all — he was finally being himself:

william powell hollywood february 1935aa
william powell hollywood february 1935ba

I love that final paragraph: “Bill Powell has hit his real stride. … Watch and see what he does now that he is permitted to be himself.” What he did was arguably have the best calendar year any actor ever had in 1936, with the likes of “My Man Godfrey,” “Libeled Lady,” “After The Thin Man,” “The Great Ziegfeld” and “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.”

There are also some semi-caustic comments on the industry from Nancy Carroll, arguably queen of the lot at Paramount when Lombard arrived in the spring of 1930. But soon she fell out of favor, despite some occasional good later films such as Ernst Lubitsch’s “Broken Lullaby” (aka “The Man I Killed”), “Hot Saturday” (a film Lombard had turned down) and “Child Of Manhattan.” So she wrote this piece for the February 1935 issue called “Nancy Tattles On Hollywood,” noting, “There is a pixie quality to its self-administered illusions that you can’t take offense at, yet which are superbly ridiculous”:

nancy carroll hollywood february 1935aa
nancy carroll hollywood february 1935banancy carroll hollywood february 1935ca

Nancy’s latest film, “Jealousy,” is mentioned in a photo caption; she would make only five more movies for the rest of the ’30s, of which the best known is the 1938 Fredric March-Virginia Bruce comedy “There Goes My Heart,” where Carroll had a supporting role. She never made another film, but appeared sporadically on TV from 1949 to 1963 before her death from a heart attack in 1965.

This magazine, in fair to good condition (there is some moderate water staining) and full of all sorts of stories, photos and ads from classic Hollywood at its apex, is available via eBay. You can buy it straight up for $24.75 or make an offer. If you’re interested, go to

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Posted August 27, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Whaddya mean, ‘Don’t have a cow, man’?   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.26 at 16:57
Current mood: amusedamused

carole lombard p1202-1660b front

Carole Lombard begs to differ with Bart Simpson — after all, if she didn’t have the cow, she couldn’t make the milk. This photo, from Paramount staffer Don English, is p1202-1660 and is from Lombard’s “farmerette” era in 1937, promoting her upcoming film “True Confession,” as the snipe on the rear makes clear:

carole lombard p1202-1660a back

(Just a thought, considering the snipe’s description of Carole as “an all-around athlete,” which she was known for in her school days and continuing through her time at Mack Sennett: Was she stricken by something that noticeably weakened her in the early ’30s, when she was occasionally bedridden and unable to work? This might have led Lombard towards an interest in tennis and swimming as her way of recuperation…and by mid-decade, not only was she one of the film community’s best tennis players, but her health problems virtually vanished.)

The photo measures 5″ x 7″ and is in very good condition; according to the seller, “there is some minor wear to the surface and a caption pasted on the back.” (For most collectors of vintage Hollywood photos, a pasted caption on the back is a plus.)

Bids open at $9.99, and bidding ends at 9:08 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. If you’d like to milk this pic for your own, go to

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Posted August 26, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

How Hollywood mourned   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.25 at 09:05
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

carole lombard 011542 war bond receipt larger

January 15, 1942 marked a beginning for Carole Lombard, as she kicked off a national war bond campaign with a successful sales rally in her home state of Indiana. Little did she know she would not live out the following day, as she, her mother Elizabeth Peters, and film publicist/chaperone Otto Winkler perished in a plane crash in Nevada.

The news stunned the movie industry, and on Monday, Jan. 19, the trade paper the Hollywood Reporter honored Lombard and Winkler by placing them on its cover:

carole lombard hollywood reporter 011942aa

We’ve run that cover before…but now, we get to see more of what’s inside, as the issue currently is on sale at eBay. There is a column-long salute to Lombard, focusing more on her generosity to the film community, and their affection for her, than Carole’s considerable career achievements. I can’t read it in its entirety, but it concludes, “No, Carole Lombard never lost a friend. It is we who lost Carole.”

carole lombard hollywood reporter 011942ba

Much of the issue was planned before her sudden passing, so there is plenty of industry news of the day, along with an ad commemorating the continued critical success of “Gone With The Wind”:

carole lombard hollywood reporter 011942ca

There’s more inside on both box office and Hollywood aiding the war effort…

carole lombard hollywood reporter 011942da

…including an ad from the Screen Publicists Guild mourning Winkler’s passing:

carole lombard hollywood reporter 011942db

The back page consists of an ad seeking contributions for the American Red Cross. Little more than a month after Pearl Harbor, fears that the Japanese might attempt an assault on the West Coast were genuine, explaining some of the ad’s wording:

“We fervently hope that ‘It Won’t Happen Here’ but we cannot take any chances…The American Red Cross must be prepared to help you — should you need them!”

carole lombard hollywood reporter 011942ea

The ad concludes with a reminder that mass meetings on behalf of the Red Cross were scheduled for noon at each studio — and since over the years, Lombard had worked at many of them at one time or another, it’s likely that her death spurred many to give more generously than usual.

The eight-page issue measures 12.25″ x 9.25″ and is said to be in “Very Good plus” condition — “A sharp, sturdy issue with a clean, white interior.”

The issue is being sold for $80. If you are interested, learn more at It’s a reminder of a moment when triumph was replaced by tragedy.

carole lombard 011542 indiana v for victory large

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Posted August 25, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘To Be Or Not To Be’? Tuesday, that is the Blu-ray question   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.24 at 17:34
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard to be or not to be ad 00b

It may have been called “the picture everyone wants to see,” but the claim came out of desperation more than demand. When “To Be Or Not To Be” was filming in the fall of 1941, it was yet another Ernst Lubitsch romantic comedy, albeit one with more bite. But Pearl Harbor brought World War II home to American audiences, and it became even more difficult to promote after Carole Lombard’s death in a plane crash in January 1942, less than two months before it entered theaters. Thus, relatively few saw it during its initial release, and those who did had mixed emotions.

Time has vindicated “To Be Or Not To Be,” which most film historians now place in the top tier of Lubitsch’s oeuvre, alongside “Trouble In Paradise,” “The Shop Around The Corner” and several others. And now, Jack Benny’s greatest film performance is getting a full-fledged Criterion treatment — both in the Blu-ray format and as a conventional DVD — and will be released Tuesday.

carole lombard to be or not to be 46 criterion blu-ray

The image above provides proof of the visual quality of this release. Compared to a Blu-ray issued for the European market by Studio Canal last year, DVD Beaver says Criterion “has a much higher bitrate, is smoother, marginally brighter, shows more information the frame, has less damage, etc. — and provides a tremendous presentation.” Not yet convinced? Here are two more screenshots of Carole, taken directly from the Criterion Blu-ray and not enhanced in any way on my behalf:

carole lombard to be or not to be 47 criterion blu-ray
carole lombard to be or not to be 45 criterion blu-ray

If all this release had to offer were excellent visuals of a classic film, that in itself might be worth buying — but Criterion has added so much more to this package…like all sorts of extras. It begins with an audio commentary from David Kalat, whose work in this field has made him a favorite of film buffs. I haven’t heard it yet, but DVD Beaver labels it “new, thorough and totally professional.”

carole lombard to be or not to be dvd chapters 00

Want to learn more about Lubitsch? First of all, good for you — he is one of the all-time great directors, right up there with Howard Hawks, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and other legends. Second, this release will help. Its additions include a 2010 French documentary with English subtitles, “Lubitsch Le Patron,” which lasts 53 minutes and thoroughly examines his style. Then there is a 45-minute German comedy from 1916, “Pinkus’s Shoe Palace,” in which Lubitsch both directed and acted.

carole lombard to be or not to be extras 00

You can hear Lubitsch act on radio in a 1940 skit with Claudette Colbert (whom he directed several times) and Benny as part of the Screen Guild Theater. Three years later on that show, Carole’s first husband, William Powell, and his current wife, Diana Lewis, would reprise Benny and Lombard’s roles in a 30-minute adaptation of “To Be Or Not To Be,” which aired on nearly the first anniversary of Carole’s death, though it wasn’t mentioned during the broadcast ( Finally, Criterion also has a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a 1942 New York Timesop-ed by Lubitsch, responding to some critics’ barbs that his film trivialized the Nazis’ barbarism.

It’s nice to see one of Lombard’s finest films (and in the eyes of many, her best performance) get first-class treatment, but Criterion did likewise 12 years ago with “My Man Godfrey.” However, that package was so good it would be hard to add even more to any sort of Blu=ray upgrade…but we’d sure love to see Criterion give it a try.

carole lombard my man godfrey criterion 00b

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Posted August 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

1931: Fashion in the fanmags   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.23 at 08:19
Current mood: impressedimpressed

carole lombard p1202-98b

An interesting thing happened to Carole Lombard in the months after signing with Paramount in mid-1930: She gained renown not so much for her acting — though she made six pictures during the first half of 1931 — but her talent in filling out the outfits the studio made her wear. The industry fan magazines ran with the concept, though they rarely showed Carole in such filmy lingerie as p1202-98 above.

Instead, Lombard appeared in more demure clothing or accessories…things the regular female fan, not endowed with her sleek, magnificent figure, could feel comfortable wearing. And while Carole gradually grew dissatisfied with being perceived as a clotheshorse (“I want to live, not pose!” she later would say), she was enough of a good soldier, familiar with how the studio game worked, to participate in photo sessions and make them a fun experience for all concerned. So here are several examples of Lombard as fashion icon from the first few months of 1931.

First, Photoplay for May 1931, with Carole joining forces with Tallulah Bankhead and Leila Hyams to present “Fashion Headliners For Afternoon Wear”:

carole lombard photoplay may 1931aa

Want a close-up version of what Lombard’s wearing? Here it is, along with the comments of “Seymour,” the magazine’s fashion maven:

carole lombard photoplay may 1931 closeup 00
carole lombard photoplay may 1931 closeup 01

Two months earlier, Photoplay examined jewelry to complement gowns, and Lombard participated:

carole lombard photoplay march 1931aa
carole lombard photoplay march 1931ba

Once again, we’ll isolate and enlarge the Carole content:

carole lombard photoplay march 1931 closeup 00
carole lombard photoplay march 1931 closeup 01

These days, using the term “slave bracelet” probably would provoke an immediate “The First Wives Club”/Lesley Gore “you don’t own me” protest. Hey, the early ’30s were different times.

Now, back to May ’31, this time in The New Movie Magazine. as “Hollywood Demonstrates New Frocks” for spring. This time, the two pages almost entirely belong to Lombard, save for a guest appearance by Claudette Colbert, clad amongst other things in “gunmetal stockings.” (Do hosiery companies still make that shade?)

carole lombard the new movie magazine may 1931aa
carole lombard the new movie magazine may 1931ba

Note the outfit in the lower right-hand corner of the first page? Lombard wore it onscreen in “Man Of The World.”

carole lombard man of the world 08f

Let’s move up a few decades, because today marks a very important pop music anniversary. Exactly 50 years ago today, the Beatles released “She Loves You” in the United Kingdom, the song whose sheer energy (from Ringo Starr’s drum intro to the “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus) lit the spark to Beatlemania. Producer George Martin deemed its close a bit corny, a la the big bands…but it’s that very over-the-topness that gives the record its enduring charm. To this day, it remains the group’s biggest-selling single in the UK. (Come the first few months of 1964, it would have similar chart success on the American side of the pond.) Here are the Fab Four with a rare live performance of the song — in color, yet! — in Manchester in the fall of ’63:

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Posted August 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

TCM, in a New York state of mind   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.22 at 01:28
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

carole lombard nothing sacred 60a

Most Carole Lombard fans recognize this image of her and Fredric March from “Nothing Sacred.” But the subject of today’s entry really isn’t Lombard, nor is it March; instead, look out the window, and you’ll see it:

carole lombard nothing sacred 63a
carole lombard nothing sacred 64a
carole lombard nothing sacred 62a

Yep, it’s New York, and March and Lombard’s characters are shown boating around lower Manhattan (although it’s almost certainly rear projection):

carole lombard nothing sacred 65a

New York has meant plenty to classic movie buffs. both as setting for films and actual location shooting. Indeed, much of the industry’s pre-West Coast history came out of the city and nearby New Jersey. And now Turner Classic Movies is paying homage to the Big Apple through something called the TCM Classic Film Tour, which opens today in New York.

tcm classic film tour logo 00a

The bus is also bright red, appropriately featuring New York’s biggest film attraction, King Kong:

tcm classic film tour bus 00a

Members of the press — including several classic film bloggers — got to take a preview recently, escorted by a pair of very special guests…Mr. TCM himself, Robert Osborne, and former MGM star and friend of the channel Jane Powell, who teamed for the obligatory ribbon-cutting:

tcm classic film tour 00a robert osborne jane powell

According to Aurora of “Once upon a screen” (that’s her photo of Osborne and Powell), the tour takes three hours — opening with a filmed introduction from Osborne about New York and the movies — and will cover virtually all facets of movies in New York, from the earliest days to later fare that could be considered “classic” (e.g., Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”). You’ll visit everything from Columbus Circle to Central Park West (home to the Dakota used in “Rosemary’s Baby”), the 59th Street Bridge Allen used in Manhattan (and let’s not forget it was a backdrop in “My Man Godfrey,” too — you can see a tiny part of it over William Powell’s shoulder in the image below):

carole lombard my man godfrey 064c

The tour ends at Grand Central Station, the eastern terminus for the fabled “Twentieth Century” train Lombard’s character rode to cinematic glory in 1934. Here she is in real life arriving in town by train in 1935, though I don’t know whether she got off at Grand Central or the original, dearly-missed Pennsylvania Station:

carole lombard 1935 new york train larger

The tour runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, beginning at 11:30 a.m.; admission is $40 plus a $3 surcharge. Find out more at

Let’s conclude by giving the West Coast equal time. Actually, it’s a tribute to the great singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon, whose birthday was Wednesday — and as of this writing, it still is in California. This is something she wrote and recorded in 1969 called simply “L.A.”, and the song is accompanied by an embryonic music video that’s rather charming. That’s appropriate, because Jackie was an integral part of that city’s music scene in the ’60s and ’70s, recording her share of hits and writing them for many others. Enjoy.

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Posted August 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized