‘Photoplay,’ April 1932: And the race is on   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.05 at 10:19
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard photoplay april 1932aa

As we see Otto Dyar’s portrait of Carole Lombard from Photoplay’s April 1932 issue, we note we’ve at times referred to some of her Paramount cohorts as “stablemates.” You’ll see more horse-race terms in the following story from that issue, as Cal York examines the 30 entrants — Lombard included — of a Hollywood derby (30? This race may need two heats!) in “30 Girls in a Race for Stardom.” It’s an intriguing perspective of how at least one filmland print notable evaluated the new group of actresses coming to the forefront:

carole lombard photoplay april 1932ba
carole lombard photoplay april 1932ca
carole lombard photoplay april 1932da
carole lombard photoplay april 1932ea

It’s interesting to see who isn’t included here — established names such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Constance Bennett and Barbara Stanwyck (all of whom would certainly have been among the top ten of female box office stars in early 1932) — but Claudette Colbert is also not among the 30, probably proof that she had moved up a tier in the Hollywood hierarchy.

Here’s the closeup on what York wrote about Lombard:

carole lombard photoplay april 1932cb

Interesting to see Carole compared to Connie…were York and others in the Hollywood press aware that Bennett reportedly had Lombard dismissed from Pathe in late 1929 for too closely resembling her? (And one reason exhibitors weren’t “crying for Lombard pictures” was that she’d only recently made her first top-billed film, “No One Man”; more on that later. In contrast, Bennett had made several starring vehicles for Pathe and RKO.) It’s also strange in retrospect to see the 1932 Carole referred to as “not front page copy” or “not a spectacular person off-screen,” as her 1937 self would be precisely the opposite. By then, she had acquired the glamour York said she needed.

Had this been an actual “horse” race, York would have put his money at the parimutuel window on Miriam Hopkins and Sylvia Sidney to at least place. But look at whom he had in the next tier — Lombard, Madge Evans, Irene Dunne, Sally Eilers, Jean Harlow, Sidney Fox, Marian Marsh, Mae Clarke and Joan Blondell. Of that group, Lombard, Dunne, Harlow and possibly Blondell had somewhat more successful careers (or at least are better remembered) than Hopkins or Sidney. (Also note that Clarke’s segment contains references to “Frankenstein” and “Waterloo Bridge,” but nary a word about James Cagney or grapefruit.) And several of York’s comparative longshots ended with lasting legacies, including Maureen O’Sullivan and Myrna Loy.

Finally, there were a few later entrants that year who would do rather well in the Hollywood horse race — Katharine Hepburn (no equine jokes, please) and Mae West.

We mentioned “No One Man,” released earlier in 1932. In that March’s Photoplay, Lombard modeled several of the fashions from the film:

carole lombard photoplay march 1932aa

The magazine’s fashion maven Seymour noted Carole was previewing some summer wear:

carole lombard photoplay march 1932ba
carole lombard photoplay march 1932bb

And “No One Man” was reviewed in that issue (note Photoplay was still using the term “talkies,” although no one aside from Charles Chaplin was making movies without dialogue), and the magazine frankly was rather diffident about it:

carole lombard photoplay march 1932ca
carole lombard photoplay march 1932cb

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Posted September 5, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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