‘Movie Classic,’ May 1933: Fighting the Depression and talking of trousers   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.08.11 at 13:08
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

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Like every good American in 1933, Carole Lombard wanted to wave goodbye to “old man Depression.” And while she wasn’t about to put on an abbreviated coin costume and sing “We’re In The Money” a la Ginger Rogers (let those plebians at Warners do that; she was a Paramount player!), she did have some ideas on how to revive the economy…and she expounded on them in the May 1933 issue of Movie Classic, featuring Ann Harding on the cover:

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To be fair, in the spring of 1933, Lombard — even after industry-mandated salary cuts — was closer to what we now would call the “1 percent” than Joe or Mary Jones in Philadelphia, Peoria or either Portland. In fact, that May ’33 issue shows scrip a cash-tight Carole issued during the bank holiday mandated by new president Franklin D. Roosevelt (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/578625.html):

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But she and her family had endured financial ups and downs over the years, and those life lessons were jelled into a story, “‘It’s Your Duty To Spend!’, Says Carole Lombard,” written by Faith Service. Reading it, one can sense that Carole listened to FDR’s inaugural speech that March 4 and took much of his “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself” message to heart:

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The resilient side of Lombard comes to the forefront in this story, as she emphasized people needed to spend their money for the common good rather than be miserly hoarders. Noting she and husband William Powell hadn’t altered their lifestyles much, aside from cutting out gambling, she said the gifts they gave now were more practical in nature. They continued to hold parties, Carole said, since such endeavors “employ caterers and waiters and florists.” She later added:

“My family had money — and then they lost their money. And long ago I knew the meaning and the value of being well cared for and of poverty. … I wouldn’t have a single pang of fear if I were told that I would be poor again tomorrow.”

One wonders how Lombard would react to today’s economy if you thrust her 80 years forward; it’s an entirely different financial environment, with “underwater” mortgages, colossal college loans and mountains of credit card debt.

OK, so we’ve heard Carole discuss the Depression; now, let’s hear her comments on clothes, specifically the new fashion fad — trousers for women. It made headlines early that year, largely due to a trendsetter who many men hated to see in slacks…Marlene Dietrich, as reported in the Jan. 24 Helena (Mont.)Independent:

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The editors of Movie Classic noted the trend with an article in the May issue, “Will It Be Trousers for Women?”, by Dorothy Calhoun:

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An array of intriguing opinions, including Carole’s, which we’ll isolate in case you missed it:

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Lombard, who at that time had no qualm about showing off her legs, comes off as a bit of a fashion Luddite — “I have never seen a single woman who looked well in trousers…Putting them on takes away woman’s last advantage of sex.” She even adds a reference to the economic benefits of traditional women’s attire; perhaps she had some money invested in a silkworm farm.

But that year, Carole was caught on camera in what might be deemed trousers, albeit for nautical purposes:

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Two other articles from the May ’33 Movie Classic should be of interest to the classic film fan. One is an interview with Walter Huston, star of the political satire “Gabriel Over The White House” (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/138321.html) about the movie and any advice he might have for Roosevelt:

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And in the spring of ’33, “King Kong” was as gargantuan a hit as its title character. How were the movie’s magical effects made? This story doesn’t supply all the answers, but gives most of them (including many things I never knew)…a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at special effects long before CGI:

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Posted August 11, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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