Looking back: December 1933   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.28 at 19:08
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard white woman 00a

As one might guess, the biggest news concerning Carole Lombard in December 1933 was her latest release, “White Woman,” the potboiler with Charles Laughton set in the Malayan jungle. Paramount played up the exotic angle in its advertising, such as this from the Dec. 3 Uniontown (Pa.) Daily News-Standard...

carole lombard 120333b uniontown daily news-standard

…or this from the Dec. 16 Burlington (N.C.) Daily Times-News:

carole lombard 121633ba burlington daily times-news

Many smaller newspapers of the time carried pre-written, obviously approving reviews from studio pressbooks (and since the Newspaper Archive primarily consists of smaller papers, that’s where most of these items are from), but a few papers ran independently written reviews, albeit rarely bylined. These aren’t at the level of James Agee, Pauline Kael or Roger Ebert, but they occasionally make some cogent points.

My birthplace of Syracuse, N.Y., has a strong history of film reviewing, and much of that is attributable to the old Syracuse Herald. In 1927, it began an organization called the Herald Cinema Critics Club (or Tri-C) that won acclaim throughout the industry for getting fans involved in intelligent movie criticism. Jack Harrower, who wrote under the pseudonym “Phil M. Daly” for Film Daily (get it?) saluted the society on its fifth birthday on Feb. 7, 1932, calling it “the Pioneer among fan organizations…voicing their opinions intelligently, constructively, sympathetically…embracing college professors and business men and women and high school students…who love the cinema…realize its possibilities…and are earnestly endeavoring to advance its critical standards.” (I would love to learn more about this organization; perhaps I’ll contact Syracuse University or the Onondaga County Public Library to see if they can track down more information.)

Anyway, here’s what the Herald’s anonymous critic wrote about “White Woman” on Dec. 2:

carole lombard 120233 syracuse herald

Three days later, Mississippi’s Biloxi Daily Herald chipped in its opinion — although it was found on the editorial page, of all places:

carole lombard 120533a biloxi daily herald

On Dec. 21, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison had this to say:

carole lombard 122133aa wisconsin state journal
carole lombard 122133ba wisconsin state journal

Meanwhile, Lombard was working on her next movie, “Bolero,” and I’m guessing George Raft really was giving her a workout, if this report from the Dec. 5 Reno Evening Gazette is indicative:

carole lombard 120533 reno evening gazette

Move a bit west, to that day’s Oakland Tribune, and we learn a “Bolero” cast member walked off the set:

carole lombard 120533 oakland tribune

Sally Rand’s frustration was understandable; she had worked in silent pictures and in fact was a WAMPAS baby star in 1926 (an honor Lombard never received, although she probably would have gained it in 1930, when the award was canceled because of the ailing economy). Things soon were resolved, and Rand returned to the production.

And what about Carole’s next movie? Louella Parsons announced what it would be in her syndicated column, shown from the Dec. 19 Hearst-owned San Antonio Light:

carole lombard 121933a san antonio light
carole lombard 121933c san antonio light

Three days later, Film Daily ran more or less the same news — and note that while “White Woman” was reviewed in Biloxi, it was banned in another part of the Bible Belt:

carole lombard film daily 122233a
carole lombard film daily 122233b

(Elsewhere on that page, we learned that “Night Bus” — for which Lombard had declined a loanout to Columbia in order to make “Bolero,” for which Paramount had big plans — had been renamed “It Happened One Night.” But, as we all know, a change in title probably won’t mean anything.)

As things turned out, of course, “The Man Who Broke His Heart” was one of those productions Carole never appeared in; heck, the Internet Movie Database doesn’t list a film by that title.

And in the final few days of 1933, look what was playing at the Olympic Theater in Steubenville, Ohio, according to that city’s Herald-Star on Dec. 20:

carole lombard 122033 steubenville herald-star

Perhaps Robert Armstrong’s starring in that year’s blockbuster “King Kong” had something to do with its re-emergence (as if he were the reason for that film’s runaway success). Whatever, by late 1933 even the best movies from 1929, and “The Racketeer” clearly wasn’t one of them, must have seemed static and creaky. (As for “Worldly Goods” — assuming it’s not referring to a similarly titled silent from 1924 — it’s a drama starring James Kirkwood and Merna Kennedy, was produced by the obscure Trem Carr Pictures, and is deemed a lost film.)

One of the more interesting things Lombard was involved in during December concerned the recently ended Prohibition, joined by other cinema legends. Back to the Syracuse Herald, this time from Dec. 8:

carole lombard 120833 syracuse herald

That brief in the third column brings us back to the real world…and what sadly was to come.

More information on the cocktail contest was found in the next day’s Oakland Tribune:

carole lombard 120933aa oakland tribune
carole lombard 120933ba oakland tribune
carole lombard 120933ca oakland tribune

How did Lombard and Dietrich fare, not to mention W.C. Fields? And who won the contest? Here, we hit a dead end. If anyone’s near Carmel, please check the library or historical society and find out. (Oh, and say hi to Doris Day and Clint Eastwood for me.)

Three years before Lombard’s life was changed at a Mayfair party, she attended an earlier one — squired by Raft — and drew some attention. Here’s part of Parsons’ column from the Dec. 6 San Antonio Light...

carole lombard 120633a san antonio light

…Harrison Carroll’s “Behind The Scenes In Hollywood,” from the Dec. 7 Tyrone (Pa.) Daily Herald...

carole lombard 120733a tyrone daily herald

…and Gwynn’s “Hot From Hollywood” in the Dec. 8 Hagerstown (Md.) Morning Herald:

carole lombard 120833a hagerstown morning herald

(Note that Russ Columbo attended, but was accompanied by Mary Brian, the actress who replaced a balking Lombard for “Hot To Handle” earlier in the year.)

Carole was listed among the best-dressed stars in the Dec. 26 Hammond (Ind.) Times:

carole lombard 122633a hammond times

Want some visual proof? Here she is, in the Dec. 1 Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald...

carole lombard 120133c middletown times herald
carole lombard 120133a middletown times-herald

…and the Dec. 28 Beatrice (Neb.) Daily Sun:

carole lombard 122833 beatrice daily sun

Lombard made the Dec. 17 Sandusky (Ohio) Register, but this almost certainly is Paramount-produced material since all the names in the column hail from that studio:

carole lombard 121733 sandusky register

This item, from the Dec. 26 Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer, probably originated at Paramount, too:

carole lombard 122633 edwardsville intelligencer

And here’s Louella again, this time from the Dec. 30 San Antonio Light, letting us know what Carole got for Christmas:

carole lombard 123033 san antonio light

How many people do you know who received a car as a gift from the spouse they divorced that year?

The Newspaper Archive is a wonderful resource, but for those of us doing classic Hollywood research it has one serious drawback — the almost-complete absence of Los Angeles or Hollywood dailies. It does have material from a few local weeklies, however, such as the Van Nuys News, which ran this item on Christmas Day:

carole lombard 122533a van nuys news

I think this was when Carole was still in Beverly Hills, as she didn’t move into her Hollywood Boulevard house until the following spring. Adjacent to the item was this ad from Pacific Electric, suggesting people use its services to visit Pasadena on New Year’s Day:

carole lombard 122533ba van nuys news

(That’s right — Columbia was playing in the Rose Bowl. And perhaps a young New Yorker named Vin Scully listened to the game that day, little realizing he would become a Los Angeles radio legend, by way of Fordham University and Brooklyn, and serve as Tournament of Roses grand marshal 80 years later.)

But as for Lombard, she would begin 1934 — which would be a pivotal year for her — with an “open house.” The lowdown on how Hollywood would welcome the new year was found in the Dec. 31 Jefferson City (Mo.) News and Tribune:

carole lombard 123133a jefferson city news and tribune

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Posted December 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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