Archive for November 2013

Carole and a ‘Comet,’ or Lombard as Valley girl   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.23 at 15:05
Current mood: surprisedsurprised

carole lombard clark gable chickens 081339b front

It’s August 1939, and Carole Lombard — married to Clark Gable since late March — is enjoying farm life on the ranch the couple owns in Encino, part of the San Fernando Valley. Today’s entry concerns the Valley, but a drastically different version of it in the distant future, after their ranch had been transformed into homes in a subdivision called “Clark Gable Estates,” and most of the area surrounding it had turned into suburbia, yet still within Los Angeles city limits.

This entry’s subject is a beloved cult film from the ’80s which partly takes place in the Valley…an area which by then had become a sort of comic relief, thanks in part to a hit by Frank Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit (fer sure, fer sure). The movie is 1984’s “Night Of The Comet,” issued several days ago in a deluxe Blu-ray/DVD version:

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So what’s the Lombard connection, you say? See the character at right? She’s a cheerleader from the Valley who, along with her older sister, appear to be the only survivors after a comet passes by Earth:

kelli maroney night of the comet 01b

She’s portrayed by Kelli Maroney (“Fast Times At Ridgemont High”), who says in an interview that’s among the set’s extras that before shooting began, director Thom Eberhardt asked her to watch “My Man Godfrey” to watch the interaction between Carole’s character and that of her older sister, played by Gail Patrick. (Catherine Mary Stewart, who portrayed the big sis, was also asked to watch it.)

carole lombard my man godfrey 029b

In other words, imagine Irene Bullock as a Valley girl in a post-apocalyptic world. Now that’s a concept.

Despite the subject matter and a subplot involving zombies, “Night Of The Comet” is good-hearted, low-budget fun; its many fans have sought a first-class videodisc release for some time. Looks like it’s worth checking out. Incidentally, here’s what Maroney looks like today — she continues working, and last year appeared in the TV movie “Gila!”:

kelli maroney 2013a

Learn more about the film at

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Posted November 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Free ‘Virtue’ in D.C. tonight!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.22 at 00:40
Current mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable

carole lombard virtue 24b
carole lombard virtue title card larger

What’s that subject line about — another sex or cocaine scandal on Capitol Hill? No, thankfully. The 1932 Carole Lombard film “Virtue,” one of her best pre-Code performances, is being shown in Washington tonight…and you don’t have to pay a cent to see it. The film is the second in a series of pre-Code gems called “Tough Dames in Satin Slips,” and it’s showing at 7 p.m. at Abraham Lincoln Hall at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE (two blocks east of the Eastern Market station on Metrorail’s Blue and Orange lines).

The series began last week with arguably the definitive pre-Coder, Barbara Stanwyck’s “Baby Face.” It’s taking next Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but will return Dec. 6 with “Heat Lightning” (with superb performances from Aline MacMahon and Ann Dvorak) and Dec. 13 with the film that put James Cagney on the map, “The Public Enemy” (the tough dames are Jean Harlow and Mae Clarke — watch out for that grapefruit).

But wait, there’s more! Each film will have a discussion led by Nell Minow of the “Movie Mom” blog ( and writer Margaret Talbot, whose superb book about her father, Lyle Talbot…

lyle talbot the entertainer margaret talbotlyle talbot 1930s
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…has recently been issued in softcover ( Her father, who worked with Lombard (in “No More Orchids,” not “Virtue”) has a supporting role in “Heat Lightning.”

This promises to be a fun, informative evening, so if you’re in the D.C. area tonight, take it in (and later tell us all about it). But while the event is free, apparently registration is required; as of this writing, 38 openings remain. To register, go to

So go…but keep your eyes open for a tough dame’s reflection in the mirror. She may be a woman of “Virtue.”

carole lombard virtue 26b

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Posted November 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

50 years ago tomorrow…   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.21 at 00:09
Current mood: sadsad

carole lombard high voltage 06d

That’s Carole (or, as she was properly known at the time, Carol) Lombard in a still from “High Voltage,” her first all-talking feature, from 1929. We’re running it because it’s a Pathe film, made when the studio was being run by Joseph P. Kennedy, father of a man who’s frequently been featured in the news lately…

…John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States. As most of you know, Friday marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas (also on a Friday), and regardless of what you think of Kennedy as a president, it safely can be said it was an event that forever changed the tone of American society.

Turner Classic Movies looks back at the Kennedy presidency by airing several documentaries from the era (all times Eastern):

* 8 p.m. — “Primary” (1960). This examines the 1960 Democratic primary in Wisconsin, which along with West Virginia would be pivotal states for Kennedy’s drive to the nomination. Directed by Robert Drew, this featured camera work from Albert Maysles and editing from D.A. Pennebaker, both of whom would be important figures in the next generation of documentaries.

* 9:15 p.m. — “Adventures On The New Frontier” (1961). Apparently this was part of ABC-TV’s “Close-Up” series and first aired in late March of ’61, barely two months into JFK’s presidency. Beyond that, I know nothing other than that given ABC’s distant third-place status at the time, few people saw it.

* 10:30 p.m. — “Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment” (1963). More cinema verite from Drew, as he examines the administration’s battle to enroll two black students at the University of Alabama, in the only state that had not integrated its public university system. (It should be noted that university officials already had approved the students’ admission, and it was Gov. George Wallace who sought to block them.) Several teams of filmmakers document actions on both sides, and the tension is genuine. The finished film premiered a month before Kennedy’s assassination.

* 11:45 p.m. — “Faces Of November” (1964). This short from Drew is the first of two post-assassination documentaries TCM is airing, and includes footage of Kennedy’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

* midnight — “Four Days In November” (1964). In contrast, this film, produced by David L. Wolper and done in conjunction with United Press International, runs more than two hours and covers a weekend any American of age at the time still remembers. Some may disagree with its endorsement of the Warren Commission’s lone gunman theory, but it’s nonetheless powerful filmmaking.

WBAP radio has been running a series on how the events of Nov. 22, 1963 and subsequent days affected the Dallas-Fort Worth area; it can be found at Also note that on Friday, beginning at 8 a.m. (Eastern), WBAP will rebroadcast minute-by-minute coverage as heard on the station on Nov. 22, 1963, playing back in real time. If you live outside its broadcast signal (820 AM), you can hear it at

We know Lombard met Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House on Dec. 29, 1940 (, and it’s entirely possible she met future president Ronald Reagan during his first few years at Warners. But did she ever meet John F. Kennedy? At the time his father ran Pathe, the son had not yet reached his teens and probably never visited the West Coast (especially since Joseph P. was in the midst of an affair with Gloria Swanson). However, one novelist has imagined that Carole and JFK did meet…but no, not for a romantic dalliance.

a fine and dangerous season 01

Keith Raffel’s “A Fine And Dangerous Season” is historical fiction dealing with the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, but his protagonist, businessman Nate Michaels — who’s been called to use his expertise to help defuse the threat of Soviet warheads in Cuba — was friends with Kennedy at Stanford in 1940, and has some flashbacks in the story. At this time, Gable and Lombard are in northern California (why, I’m not certain), and Michaels not only shakes Clark’s huge hand, but introduces Kennedy to Carole:

“Oh, the ambassador’s son,” she said. She didn’t seem too impressed, but then look at who she was married to.

I don’t know if Raffel was aware of the connection between Lombard and JFK’s father; if he was, his fictional Carole might have made a completely different reference.

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Posted November 21, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Godfrey, meet Don Draper   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.20 at 00:00
Current mood: impressedimpressed

carole lombard my man godfrey 073a

“My Man Godfrey” is not only arguably the greatest screwball comedy ever made, but it features some of the most unusual ancillary items of any Carole Lombard movie. Not long ago, we noted the existence of a booklet used in marketing called “Diary Of A Debutante” (, which purported to reveal the thoughts of Carole’s character, dizzy heiress Irene Bullock…

carole lombard my man godfrey diary of a debutante 00a

…now, we’ve come across another promotional idea — advertising tie-ins!

You didn’t think this was something the 1936 version of “Mad Men” could pull off? Au contraire, my friend. A total of 14 stills from the movie were made available for such purposes. As the person selling these pics notes, “Today, this may be considered product placement within a film, though brand names are used here only occasionally. Using stills from the film, advertisers could promote a variety of items.”

As you’ll see, it’s rather primitive product placement by 2013 standards (was the type font used just as an example? One would think only the most unsophisticated of advertisers would use it as is), but it’s fascinating to see a “Godfrey” spin on all sorts of products. (You’ll note some spaces have been left blank to insert a particular brand name in the suggested copy.) Here they are:

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Interesting marketing angles, I think you’d agree. I frankly haven’t seen enough newspapers or magazines from the fall of 1936 (when “Godfrey” was released) to know how many of them (or if any of them) were used.

As you can see, most of the advertising plugs are generic; here’s an exception, specifically referring to General Electric products (curiously, “Godfrey” was a Universal release, and decades later GE would be a majority owner of Universal — which had merged with NBC — before selling control to Comcast a few years back):

carole lombard my man godfrey advertising 02a

And an on-the-set pic shows William Powell, Alice Brady and another cast member playing “Monopoly,” which was hugely successful in 1936, and perhaps envisioned as a promotion for a toy or department store:

carole lombard my man godfrey advertising 05a

Now the particulars on the pics: All are 8″ x 10″ silver gelatin originals, in fine condition. This “extremely rare and unusual collection of special promotional merchandising stills” can only be purchased as a complete set, for $750. At that price, it’s probably only for Lombard, Powell or “Godfrey” completists…or perhaps advertising agencies that would like to decorate their offices. To purchase, or merely to check it out, visit

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Posted November 20, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Still My Man Godfrey’? ‘Virtue 2’?   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.19 at 08:58
Current mood: confusedconfused

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Imagine a classic film, such as “My Man Godfrey” with Carole Lombard and William Powell, getting a sequel decades after it was made. Well, yesterday it was announced that another iconic movie will be getting such treatment.

We are referring to “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the beloved 1946 Frank Capra film starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. It did good business on its initial release and was nominated for the Academy Award for best picture (losing to another classic, “The Best Years Of Our Lives”), but repeated TV showings after it fell into public domain boosted its appeal to subsequent generations. Eventually, NBC gained the rights and has made it a holiday perennial.

Variety has reported that a sequel — “It’s A Wonderful Life: The Rest Of The Story” — is to be produced, with hopes of having it in theaters for the 2015 holiday season ( See the little girl above, “Zuzu”? She was played by Karolyn Grimes, who this time will play the angel.

There will be a George Bailey character, too — the grandson of the man portrayed by Stewart. He’s a miserable sort, the producers say, and here the angel shows how much better off the world would have been had he never been born (a twist on the ’46 version). That sounds rather mean-spirited (didn’t Sam Kinison perform a similar turn on “Married…With Children”?), but I presume in this one, the grandson gets a chance to atone.

Cyberspace reaction to the concept hasn’t been favorable, to say the least; someone noted the failure of “Scarlett,” a TV-movie sequel to “Gone With The Wind,” while many cracked one-linres about sequels to “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca” or “Vertigo.”

The idea got me thinking (always a dangerous concept): In what Lombard films could a sequel be made? (The difference being, of course, that the original characters would continue, played by modern-day actors — what would be compelling about the grandchildren of Hazel Flagg and Wally Cook?) And it wouldn’t be enough for characters in love to get married (or stay married); they would need some new challenges, perhaps involving other characters from the earlier film.

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A few movies provide possibilities. In a sequel to “My Man Godfrey,” how does Godfrey adapt to having a flighty wife, rather than a flighty heiress patron? And what challenges await “The Dump,” built on the site where Irene Bullock discovered the downtrodden Godfrey? Did Lily Garland ever forgive Oscar Jaffe for getting her to sign a Broadway contract in a sequel to “Twentieth Century”? (If she returned to Hollywood, the movie could be named after another famed train, this one heading to Los Angeles.)

Put on your thinking caps, if you dare, and come up with a sequel to a Lombard film…but provide some sort of conflict that would fuel such a movie. Where do Hazel and Wally go in a followup to “Nothing Sacred,” and what happens to them?

carole lombard nothing sacred 47a

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Posted November 19, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Clark and Carole, cookin’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.18 at 19:38
Current mood: hungryhungry

carole lombard clark gable screenland november 1939b front

Welcome to Carole Lombard and Clark Gable at home, sometime in 1939, posing for the camera; by now, both well knew how the publicity game was played. What else do we know about this photo? Fortunately, the back shows it’s a genuine vintage pic, and even tells us who took it:

carole lombard clark gable screenland november 1939a back

The photographer was John Miehle of RKO, Carole’s home studio at the time. The stamp shows the pic was property of Screenland magazine, with a stamp of “November 1939.” Priscilla Lane was the magazine’s cover subject that month, but nothing on the cover indicates a Gable-Lombard story is inside:

screenland november 1939

I initially thought the photo might have been connected to this incomplete story on the Gables from Screenland...

carole lombard screenland the clark gables at home larger
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…but a check of that magazine’s covers showed that article ran in August of ’39, with Ann Sheridan as cover subject:

screenland august 1939 large

Since Screenland as of yet has no online presence, we don’t know when it ran. The “November 1939″ might have been when it was received at the office.

Anyhow, getting back to the Clark and Carole photo, it’s 11″ x 14” and double-weight. No wonder the opening bid price is $299.95, with bids set to close at 7:32 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Wednesday. If you’re curious about this item, visit

The same seller has this Lombard photo available, from “We’re Not Dressing,” as sailor Bing Crosby gets set to cut Carole (as haughty heiress Doris Worthington) down to size in front of their fellow castaways:

carole lombard we're not dressing 22b

It’s 8″ x 10″, and bidding opens at $49.95; bidding concludes at 8:13 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Tuesday. Find out more at

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Posted November 18, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

More p1202s on parade   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.17 at 05:59
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard p1202-1054a

The same person selling the Carole Lombard photo with Sabu and director John Cromwell also has several of her portraits available — including a few rarities from her Paramount period as player p1202. All are original and originally stored in magazine archives, and bidding on all ends in the noon hour (Eastern) on Saturday.

Take the one above, for instance; it’s p1202-1054, probably from late 1934, with Lombard doing a little emoting (rare for one of her stills). Bids begin at $19.99, and you can find out more at

From there, we go to p1202-1133, in contrast a casual Carole:

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This one has an opening bid of $24.99; it’s at

Next up, p1202-1290, taken by Bud Fraker:

carole lombard p1202-1290a bud fraker

Fraker had a long career in the industry. He took some stills of Lombard and John Barrymore for “Twentieth Century,” then later gained renown for his portraits of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. If you’d like to place a bid or get more information (bids start at $24.99), go to

Here’s p1202-1293, probably a Eugene Robert Richee pic as Lombard wears the same outfit for his p1202-1294:

carole lombard p1202-1293a

Bids for this open at $19.99; find out more by visiting

Finally, we head to 1936 for p1202-1435:

carole lombard p1202-1435a

This falls into the “bids start at $24.99” camp, and you can get the particulars at

The seller’s entire Lombard collection is at

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Posted November 17, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized