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Two chances to board the ‘Twentieth Century’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.31 at 00:39
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

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“Twentieth Century,” Carole Lombard’s breakout film, was last released on DVD in North America in early 2005 — and based upon many of the reviews from customers, they’d like to do to Sony what Lombard is doing to John Barrymore in the photo above. Many consider the video transfer subpar, unworthy of this Howard Hawks-directed screwball classic, while others bemoan the lack of extras.

Since the DVD release took place nearly a decade ago, it’s difficult to find — but here are two copies of “Twentieth Century” now available on eBay.

We’ll start with one that in effect is “brand new”; it’s never been opened, still sealed in its clingwrap (witness the rather muddled, filmy photos below).

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Bids on this begin at $35, with bidding scheduled to end at 3:54 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. If you’d like to place a bid, visit

The other copy is being sold, not auctioned, for $39.99. It’s been previously used and is in good condition; according to the seller, there are “A few scuffs to disc surface, not affecting playback.” To purchase this, go to

Whether you obtain one of these two or another version floating the market, it might simply be better to wait for Columbia to finally come to its senses and give this romantic comedy gem the first-class treatment it deserves — with a top-tier transfer and a Blu-ray option, either done by itself or parceled out to others. (Think of Criterion’s superb work on “My Man Godfrey” back in 2001 or Kino’s more recent transfer of “Nothing Sacred.”)

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A ‘Supernatural’ journey to Atlanta…via UCLA

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.30 at 00:54
Current mood: scaredscared

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It can safely be said that “Supernatural” was not one of Carole Lombard’s favorite film-making experiences. Horror was hardly her strong suit, and to work for the Halperin brothers in the spring of 1933, fresh off their success of “White Zombie,” must have led Lombard to wish her home studio was Columbia (where Harry Cohn already had given her two comparatively good vehicles, and by late 1934 would give her three more) rather than Paramount (which put her in all sorts of projects, not really quite knowing what to do with her).

Nevertheless, “Supernatural” is a film every Lombard fan should see at least once. Considering her antipathy for, or discomfort towards, the horror genre, Carole comes off reasonably well, making herself at least semi-believable amidst the hokum.

If you’re in Atlanta, you’ll be able to see “Supernatural” next month at Emory University’s Cinematheque, which is showing it as part of the “UCLA Festival of Preservation,” a 12-film series focusing on movies recently restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. “Supernatural” will be run Sept. 24 along with “Double Door” (1934), directed by Charles Vidor, about an older woman keeping a brother and sister hostage. (The next film in the series is the 1950 noir classic “Gun Crazy,” set to run Sept. 3.)

If you’re into lighter fare, check out the silent twin bill Sept. 10, pairing Clara Bow’s vehicle “Mantrap” (1926) with the 1928 romantic melodrama “Midnight Madness.” The Sept. 17 card has three early ’30s comedies — “International House” (1933), with W.C. Fields, George Burns and Gracie Allen, plus Cab Calloway performing “Reefer Man”; “Thirty-Day Princess” (1934), starring Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant; and the 1933 Laurel and Hardy short “Busy Bodies.”

All films begin at 7:30 p.m., and admission is free. For the complete schedule, as well as information on other film series shown by Emory, visit Carole will get you in the mood for Halloween a month early.

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Carole at Columbia, Harlow style

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.29 at 00:44
Current mood: surprisedsurprised

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It’s no secret that in the early 1930s, Carole Lombard, searching for the optimal “look,” briefly emulated Jean Harlow’s ultra-blonde appearance — not quite the platinum locks Harlow already was famed for, but an ash-blonde effect that looked equally at home in black-and-white portraits.

However, that style generally is associated with Lombard’s days at Paramount, mostly from late 1931 to sometime in 1932. But the photo above wasn’t taken at Paramount — there’s no p1202 number in sight. Look in the lower left-hand corner, and you’ll spot this:

carole lombard 2568d front

You can barely make out the “C.P.”, standing for Columbia Pictures. I’m guessing this was taken at Gower Gulch fairly early in Carole’s Columbia tenure — perhaps in mid-1932, while she was making “Virtue,” her first film for Harry Cohn.

This is a pic I’ve never seen before, and it’s impressive. Moreover, it’s an 8″ x 10″ original on glossy single-weight stock, listed “in fine condition with crinkling where the paper did not set perfectly when printed.”

Two bids, topping out at $6.50, have been made as of this writing; since the auction doesn’t end until 9:52 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Sunday and the image is relatively rare, there’s an excellent chance this will significantly increase by that time. If you feel like making a bid, visit

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One more legal artifact from the Lombard estate

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.28 at 15:29
Current mood: morosemorose

Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and furs are the subjects of today’s entry, albeit under rather unhappy circumstances. In recent months, we’ve run some legal documents Gable signed as executor of Lombard’s estate following her death in January 1942. This time, it concerns money owed to a furrier.

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The business was Leonard H. Hoffman Furs of 706 South Hill Street in downtown; the invoices were to remake a silver fox skirt into a stole and for several black Persian broadtail skins for a hat. The total charge came to $118.45.

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(A Google search found no current listing for a Hoffman Furs in Los Angeles, and 706 South Hill is part of an office building.)

Gable signed the document…

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…while the seller is providing a certificate of authenticity:

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You can buy it straight up for $750 or make a bid, beginning at $200, in which case the auction will last through 2:07 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday. If you’d like to get in on the action or simply seek to learn more, visit

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Possible historic horror: A ‘Phantom’ stage could be razed

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.27 at 21:15
Current mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable

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Carole Lombard made two films at Universal, both in 1936: “Love Before Breakfast” and the screwball par excellence “My Man Godfrey” (she’s shown above with fellow cast members Alice Brady, Mischa Auer and William Powell as well as director Gregory La Cava). I have no idea what soundstage either movie was shot on; I suppose a call to Universal’s archives might produce an answer. All I know is that “Godfrey’s” place on the lot wasn’t mentioned when I took the Universal studio tour in March 2000 — no big shock since Universal’s tour traditionally has been far more of a theme park compared to the more genuine working tours presented by Paramount and Warners. (Columbia offers a tour at its Culver City lot that once was home to MGM, but since I’ve never taken it, I can’t comment on its tone.)

We bring this up because the future of one of Universal’s most historic soundstages apparently is threatened. Specifically, it’s Soundstage 28:

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From the outside, it looks rather anonymous…but go inside, and you can imagine the stories it could tell.

Built in 1925 and measuring some 14,000 square feet, the stage gained cinematic immortality that same year when the Lon Chaney horror classic “The Phantom Of The Opera” was filmed there, and the set pieces representing the boxes for the Paris opera house remain.

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However, soundstage 28 has been used for many other movies, including the horror and suspense classics Universal long has been renowned for such as “Dracula,” “The Bride Of Frankenstein” and “Psycho.” More recent productions have been filmed there, including this year’s “Muppets Most Wanted.”

28 is the oldest stage on the Universal lot…and unfortunately, it happens to be located close to the profitable theme park section of Universal’s lot. So according to the site “Inside Universal” (, the company probably wants to use the area to expand the theme park. The “Phantom” set pieces would be preserved and moved elsewhere, but the stage itself would be torn down. (Soundstage 28 isn’t included in the regular Universal tour, but is part of a special VIP tour when the stage or set is available.)

As you might guess, news of this has raised a furor among both classic Hollywood fans and preservationists. One person commented, “Stage 28 should be declared an historical landmark and preserved. Amusement parks are a dime a dozen. This stage is an extremely rare jewel of American cinema/Hollywood history. Once it is gone, it can never be replaced.” There’s also a petition to make the stage a national historic landmark ( And all this is coming a year before the centennial of Universal City.

Let us hope 28 is preserved in some form — someone suggested that Universal’s special effects department could create a Phantom figure to wander along the catwalk and opera boxes. (For decades, studio lore has stated the stage is haunted.) Otherwise, Universal officials more concerned with minions…

…might find themselves challenged by Chaney:

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Happy New Year. Yeah, right.

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.26 at 09:25
Current mood: pensivepensive

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It’s fall 1938, perhaps a bit too early to welcome in 1939 in real life, but that’s probably not why Carole Lombard is grimacing as she sits opposite James Stewart on the set of “Made For Each Other” and its pivotal New Year’s Eve scene. Maybe she’s listening to a suggestion from director John Cromwell. Maybe it’s a repeated take, and Carole’s getting slightly upset. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

carole lombard made for each other 70a

I have no idea whether the top photo was taken prior to or following an accident that took place on the set the morning of Saturday, Oct. 1, when Edmund Fellegi, a 25-year-old property man, fell from a scaffold into a crowd of extras while preparing a batch of balloons that were to be released ( Fellegi fell into a coma and died the following Monday. (The Los Angeles Evening Herald-Express listed the man’s address, and I note it’s not that far from where I currently live.) And yes, Lombard — along with the 150 extras gathered for the scene — witnessed the fatal fall.

Anyway, the 8″ x 10″ picture, not an original, is available via eBay. The minimum bid is $6.75, with bidding slated to end at 5:01 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday, or you can swoop in and buy it right off the bat for $9. If you’re interested in this image, one I’ve never come across before, visit×10-rare-photo-/261572607134?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item3ce6f13c9e.

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There’s Moore (‘Why Be) Good’ news on the restoration front

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.25 at 14:40
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

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After graduating from the Mack Sennett school of two-reelers in the late 1920s, what did Carole Lombard envision as her next step? Based on the three talking features she made for Pathe (“High Voltage,” “Big News” and “The Racketeer”), a continuation of comedy apparently wasn’t part of the equation.

But at roughly the same time that Lombard was beginning her short-lived tenure at Pathe, a notable star of her era was continuing her string of comedy hits. And for the second time in recent years, a feature of hers feared lost has been rediscovered, enabling us to enjoy her artistry.

The star: Colleen Moore.

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The film: “Why Be Good?”, her final silent, released in February 1929.

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“Why Be Good?” will make its U.S. restoration premiere at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, following in the footsteps of the rediscovered 1927 Moore vehicle “Her Wild Oat.” This is the culmination of a project that spanned more than a quarter-century.

It began when film historian Joseph Yranski (a good friend of my Facebook friend Lara Gabrielle Fowler) interviewed Moore prior to her death in 1988; she told him that a copy of “Why Be Good?” survived in an Italian film archive. While the movie was a silent, there was a Vitaphone soundtrack featuring some of the top jazz talent of the time such as Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang and a young Jimmy Dorsey. The Vitaphone Project’s Ron Hutchinson found the 16-inch discs used for the soundtrack, and Cineteca Italiana di Milano, who graciously allowed access to the 35mm nitrate dupe negative for the restoration.

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According to LACMA, Moore, shown with leading man Neil Hamilton, “plays a wild flapper with a dubious reputation, who, after a vivacious night of dancing, finds herself romantically linked to her boss’s son.” Sounds like a delicious premise for a late ’20s romantic comedy, something Moore was expert at.

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And just as “Her Wild Oat” unveiled a glimpse of the future in 14-year-old Loretta Young, so does “Why Be Good?” show an actress destined for bigger and better things in Jean Harlow, not yet 18 and appearing as a dress extra.

I have no idea if Colleen and Carole ever met, though one would think they crossed paths at one time or another, or if Lombard was a fan of Moore’s movies. (I tend to think she would’ve been.)

“Why Be Good” is part of the Academy@LACMA series, and tickets are available to the general public for a mere $5. To purchase or learn more, visit (I’ve already ordered mine.)

Moore not only was vivacious, but had her own brand of sex appeal — here, it’s obvious that Colleen already knew how to jazz up her lingerie:

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This discovery leads to hope that someday, Moore’s breakout film, “Flaming Youth,” will be unearthed.

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The director as (literal) referee

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.24 at 18:17
Current mood: energeticenergetic

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One of the signature scenes in “Nothing Sacred” is the “fight” between Carole Lombard’s Hazel Flagg and Fredric March’s Wally Cook (done to get Hazel into a sweat and make her look ill). Now, another publicity still from that pseudo-skirmish has surfaced on eBay.

carole lombard nothing sacred 70a front
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That’s director William Wellman monitoring Lombard and March; the seller is from Argentina, and the language on the back (either Spanish or Portuguese) makes it likely the pic is from that continent. It measures 8″ x 10″ and is in very good condition (“Very small folds in the corners. Small surface details only seen if direct light is applied”).

Despite the presence of the names on the front, the photo is promoted as “CAROL LOMBARD, WILLIAM POWELL & WILLIAM A. WELLMAN in ‘Nothing Sacred’ 1937.” Believe me, it isn’t Powell; in the wake of Jean Harlow’s death that June, at roughly the time “Nothing Sacred” began shooting, his own health began to decline.

Bidding on this photo begins at $49.50, and the auction is slated to end at 8:11 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. If you’re interested in this comparatively rare pic, visit

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Vintage in triplicate

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.23 at 23:10
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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Three Carole Lombard portraits, all vintage photographs from the first half of the 1930s, currently are on sale at eBay.

Above is Paramount p1202-198, from Carole’s blondest period (late 1931, early ’32); it’s linen-backed and going for $99.99. Purchase it by going to

The other two are from the same seller, but each sell for $149.99. First is this early Paramount image, p1202-52:

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Want to add it to your collection? Then go to

Finally, there’s this image from Columbia, which means it was issued between 1932 and 1934:

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If you’re interested in this 8″ x 10″, then visit

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Praise (Garden of) Allah — producer acquires rights to books

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.22 at 10:06
Current mood: happyhappy

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Carole Lombard lived and worked in a truly interesting place (southern California, specifically the “Hollywood” film industry) at an equally interesting time (between the World Wars, when sound shook up the movies and the studio system was at its apex). Those times have been recaptured in a series of books…and word has come out that those books could soon be adapted into another medium.

The books we’re referring to are Martin Turnbull’s “Garden Of Allah” series, currently a trilogy but set to include six more novels:

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Turnbull recently reported that the film and television rights to his novels have been optioned by a producer, Tabrez Noorani, who was co-producer of “Million Dollar Arm,” released earlier this year. (He’s also served on production teams for the likes of “Eat, Pray, Love,” “Bend It Like Beckham” and Oscar winner “Slumdog Millionaire,” among others.) The news also made the Hollywood Reporter (

We don’t know whether Noorani will adapt them into movies or a TV series if this endeavor comes to fruition (and we certainly hope that it does), but it’s a major achievement for Turnbull, and we congratulate him on it. We’ve written about this series before (, and since Martin’s been a longtime reader (and backer), of Carole & Co., I couldn’t be happier for him.

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Please also check out his site, There you not only can buy the three books in the series so far, but visit his companion map for the novels (he does excellent research).

Oh, and for those who don’t know, the Garden of Allah was a fabled apartment/hotel complex on Sunset Boulevard, built by silent star Alla Nazimova (hence its name) in the 1920a. Many film and literary nobles lived or spent time there, including the recently departed Lauren Bacall. It was razed in 1959 to make way for a bank.

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Carole and Chester pose in Culver City

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.21 at 18:14
Current mood: contentcontent

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Many a movie star worked in Culver City during the classic era, and Carole Lombard was no exception. But her experiences in that town were somewhat unusual in that her best work there came at the lot used by Selznick International Pictures for “Nothing Sacred” and, to a lesser extent, “Made For Each Other.” The more famous MGM lot a few blocks north on Washington Boulevard? Carole made but one film there, and it wasn’t much — the 1934 programmer “The Gay Bride.” (Above is a fashion shot to promote the film, possibly taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull.)

A bit of memorabilia from that film has popped up on eBay — an original portrait of Carole with leading man Chester Morris, a shot I’ve never come across before:

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The seller says it’s in “Good condition with no bent corners; there is some chafing on Carole’s neck but it is not a scratch on the photo; it appears to be part of the original image.”

Bidding for this item begins at $10, with the auction set to end at 6:10 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. You can get in on the action or simply learn more by visiting

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It’s time for some Cinecon magic

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.20 at 23:27
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

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In 1940, Carole Lombard provided public encouragement to a young Elizabeth Montgomery regarding a future entertainment career ( Perhaps Liz returned the favor in Hollywood heaven by teaching Carole the art of conjuring witch spells (if it involves nose-twitching, one hopes Myrna Loy is instructed, too).

That’s the only explanation I have for what happened yesterday, when my desktop modem was down and I was told I’d have to wait for a repairman to visit my apartment on Sunday. After a trip to downtown Los Angeles, using my laptop in the library and then visiting Dodger Stadium (I always go to a ballgame om my birthday), I returned home late Tuesday to find my desktop computer again was fully functional, as was my telephone. Was it some magic from Carole, a birthday present from her to me? I don’t know, but I’m going to give her the credit and thank her for being such a kind witch.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the many fun things Los Angeles has for a classic movie enthusiast such as myself — the annual Labor Day extravaganza known as Cinecon. This year, it’s Cinecon 50, from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1. We’ve discussed this event before (,, but this marks the first time I’ll be able to attend. Its home base is the famed Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

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No Lombard films are among the 33 features on this year’s schedule (, but there are some fascinating things on the card, as usual predominantly comprised of both silents and early talkies. Liked seeing William Powell on his TCM Summer Under The Stars day Aug. 9? At 3:55 p.m. Aug. 29, another film of his will be shown — “The Baroness And The Butler” (1938), co-starring Annabella:

Constance Talmadge was among the most popular comedic actresses of the 1920s, but many of her films are hard to find today. That will change at 8:15 p.m. Aug. 30, when a newly restored version of “East Is West” will run in the U.S. for the first time since it was released in 1922.

Three Charlie Chaplin and two Mary Pickford movies are slated to run, and at 10:55 a.m. Friday, historian John Bengston will conduct a talk, “Hollywood’s Silent Echoes,” followed by a walking tour that will carry through to lunch. Ruta Lee will appear to discuss “Witness For The Prosecution” on Saturday, while Margaret O’Brien will do likewise on Sunday for “Meet Me In St. Louis.” (Other celebrity guests include my Facebook friend Francine York, Diane McBain, BarBara Luna and H.M. Wynant.)

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Cinecon has been around since 1965, and has called Los Angeles its home since 1990. It defines itself this way: “We specialize in running rare, unusual and unjustly forgotten movies from the silent and early sound era. Most films are screened in 35mm and silent films include live piano accompaniment.” A memorabilia show runs concurrently with Cinecon.

There is no admission to individual films; instead, there are festival and single-day passes. Day pass rates are as follows:

Thursday, August 28, 7 pm-midnight, $25
Friday, August 29, 9 am-midnight, $30
Saturday, August 30, 9 am-midnight, $30
Sunday, August 31, 9 am-6 pm, $30
Monday, September 1, 9 am-7 pm, $25

For more information, visit

It promises to be plenty of fun (and magical, too, whether or not any good witches drop by), so if you’re going to be in southern California Labor Day weekend, come on over and take part for a day or two.

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It’s my birthday, so I’m taking a break

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.19 at 14:11
Current mood: pleasedpleased

Methinks Carole Lombard’s got a good idea there, so I’m going to follow her lead and relax today. And why not? I turn 59 today (darn, I feel like a geezer), and yesterday I officially became a Californian when my state ID card arrived. (Even though I can’t drive anymore, thank you, DMV.)

Not doing much today, in part because suddenly I’m having problems with my desktop modem, and I’m back to where I was for much of July — using a laptop, looking for a place with wi-fi. The company will send a repairman to the apartment on Sunday to solve the mess, so if I miss a day between now and then, please understand.

Tonight, I’ll follow my annual ritual of watching a ballgame on my birthday, specifically the San Diego Padres’ visit to Dodger Stadium to open a three-game series. I’m in a pretty happy mood baseball-wise because my favorite team, the Washington Nationals, have won seven in a row — the last three on walk-offs — for a six-game lead in the National League East. Life is good for this D.C. emigre. (The Nats begin September with a three-game series in Los Angeles, and I already have my tickets for what might be a postseason preview.)

So have fun the rest of the day, and I promise to get back to business tomorrow…and Helen Bartlett, rest assured that’s no lie.

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‘Silver Screen,’ September 1934: Stars, intimidated by a child

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.18 at 23:19
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

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Working with a prodigy in just about any field can provoke all kinds of reactions, from jealousy (think Salieri vs. Mozart) to downright awe. Carole Lombard and Gary Cooper both were motion picture veterans; in fact, they earlier had made a movie with each other (“I Take This Woman”). But in mid-1934, when they were cast in “Now And Forever” with Shirley Temple, Coop and Carole were downright intimidated by someone half their height.

It wasn’t that Temple tried to play boss with her two grown-up co-stars; far from it. Shirley was cooperative and professional to the utmost degree (well, as professional as a child actor could be). But her incredible ease in front of the camera, not to mention her uncanny knowledge of acting, led Cooper and Lombard to realize this was no ordinary youngster they were dealing with.

The September 1934 issue of Silver Screen features a story of life on the set, and anyone who doubts Shirley’s extraordinary talent should read this article:

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Let’s isolate that paragraph about Lombard on the second page:

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(“Dorothy” was Shirley’s imaginary adversary who would cause her to flub up her lines.)

Here’s an anecdote about Carole having to spank Shirley in a scene (it wound up being removed from the script, but Temple insisted it be performed):

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The story was written by Patricia Keats, who also touched on the young star’s reaction to the death of close friend Dorothy Dell, only age 19.)

Another Silver Screen writer, S.R. Mook, dropped by the set as part of his tour of the studios — and while he discussed Shirley, he seemed proudest of being kissed by Carole. (Who could blame him?)

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Lombard tended to be skeptical of child actors, but her experience with Temple led her to champion the youthful star (though she never really had to — Shirley won the affection of millions through her genuine skills on the screen; there was nothing cloying about her). “Now And Forever” would be a singular experience in Carole’s cinematic career.

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Bonjour, Claudette!

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.17 at 20:48
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

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After last weekend’s one-two punch of William Powell and Carole Lombard, some of us took a break from TCM’s Summer Under The Stars, occasionally spending some time with other notables shown such as Cary Grant and Charlie Chaplin. Tomorrow (the 18th), get back on board the SUTS train with one of Carole’s Paramount cohorts and good friends, Claudette Colbert.

I’m guessing the photo above was taken at the Columbia lot in early 1934, about the time Lombard was making “Twentieth Century” and Colbert, Clark Gable and director Frank Capra were at work on “It Happened One Night” (a property which Carole may have turned down in its earlier incarnation as a programmer called “Night Bus”). None of them knew that their sojourn at Gower Gulch would prove pivotal to their careers; Gable, Colbert and Capra captured Academy Awards, while Lombard showed the industry she could be a comedic dynamo.

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Blessed with a stylish figure and a sophisticated sensibility, Colbert became a Broadway stage notable in the 1920s, and decided to give movies a try. She made a silent, “For The Love Of Mike,” in 1927 and hated the experience. (The director was, of all people, Capra, which initially made her reluctant to re-team with him some years later.) Sound led Claudette to give films a second chance, especially since she could work at Paramount’s Astoria lot in Queens. She made a number of movies in New York, but when the Depression hit full force and East Coast production proved unprofitable, it was goodbye NYC (where she’d spent much of her youth), hello Hollywood.

Here’s TCM’s schedule (all times Eastern):

* 6 a.m. — “Parrish” (1961). Colbert’s final theatrical film, it also stars Troy Donahue and Diane McBain (

* 8:30 a.m. — “Outpost In Malaya” (1952). She plays a plantation owner’s wife whose site is attacked by bandits. With Jack Hawkins and Anthony Steel.

* 10 a.m. — “Tomorrow Is Forever” (1946). Claudette opposite Orson Welles? Yes, and George Brent too, in a story about a veteran presumed dead who returns to find his wife has remarried.

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* noon — “Without Reservations” (1946). Colbert’s a writer, John Wayne’s a war hero. Mervyn LeRoy directs this romantic comedy which lacks the pizzazz of its pre-war counterparts.

* 2 p.m. — “Boom Town” (1940). The other Claudette and Clark pairing, this tale of oil and its effects on friends also starts Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr.

* 4:15 p.m. — “It’s A Wonderful World” (1939). The only teaming of Colbert and James Stewart is a charming little comedy; she’s a poetess, he’s a fugitive trying to clear himself of murder. Guy Kibbee has a supporting role.

* 6 p.m. — “It Happened One Night” (1934). The “walls of Jericho.” The hitchhiking scene. Bus passengers singing “The Man On The Flying Trapeze.” Anyone who claims to be a classic movie fan must see this film at least once

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* 8 p.m. — “The Smiling Lieutenant” (1931). Claudette’s a musician who loves officer Maurice Chevalier…but a misunderstand forces him to marry dowdy princess Miriam Hopkins. What to do? Director Ernst Lubitsch has the answer, and it has something to do with lingerie. A pre-Code classic too few people have seen.

* 10 p.m. — “Skylark” (1941). In this romance, housewife Colbert is torn between husband Ray Milland and attorney Brian Aherne.

* midnight — “Three Came Home” (1950). Claudette plays an American woman held captive by the Japanese for much of World War II. Directed by Jean Negulesco.

* 2 a.m. — “Remember The Day” (1941). Most of this film is in flashback mode, as Colbert plays an elderly schoolteacher scheduled to meet a former student now running for president. With John Payne.

* 4 a.m. — “The Secret Heart” (1946). Claudette plays a recent widow trying to aid her emotionally disturbed stepdaughter (June Allyson). Walter Pidgeon also stars.

claudette colbert SUTS 2014

Interesting mix, though I wish at least one of Colbert’s outings with Cecil B. De Mille had made the cut (I particularly would like to see the oft-overlooked “Four Frightened People”). Her sparking romantic comedy “Midnight,” directed by Mitchell Leisen, also would have been welcome. But Claudette is always enjoyable, so take some time out to watch one of the classic era’s most delightful actresses at work. More on her and the SUTS schedule at

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This will send you into ‘shivers’…or into laughter

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.16 at 21:52
Current mood: amusedamused

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“Supernatural” isn’t the worst feature Carole Lombard ever made — if she thought it had been, she’d have named it over “The Gay Bride” (or possibly the later “Fools For Scandal”) — but it’s certainly the most atypical film in the Lombard canon. The very thought of putting Carole into a horror movie sparks a “what were they thinking?” reaction; the only thing she had in common with Fay Wray is that both were at one time romantically attached to writer Robert Riskin (although Wray married him and Lombard didn’t).

But one hilarious residue of Carole’s candidacy as a “scream queen” is now for sale at eBay — the May 1933 issue of Shadoplay, the short-lived subsidiary of Photoplay, which features one of the weirdest articles (and arguably the strangest headline) ever written about Lombard:

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We wrote about this nearly a year ago (, and the magazine has surfaced on eBay, with Tala Birell on the cover:

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Most of us know that Carole was a Howard Hawks heroine, but how many know that Joan Crawford was one, too?

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The magazine is in good condition, though it’s “missing page 73/74 (appears to have been a portrait page) with no cut outs. Front cover has some age wear, a chipped top right corner, a chipped top left corner, some scratches/scuffs at the top left corner, a light crease along the left and some dirt between Miss Birell’s eyes. Spine looks good, a few small white stress marks. Back cover looks nice, some dirt. Interior pages have age yellowing.”

It’s selling for $39.99; if interested, go to

Carole Lombard and her Cadillac

Posted by janepeters on 2014.08.15 at 23:14

Another poster called attention to an item for sale on eBay CLARK GABLE SIGNED AUTO CAROLE LOMBARD ESTATE DOCUMENT ROLLS ROYCE W/COA 1942. The seller incorrectly lists that the document pertains to a Rolls Royce. The document is in fact a settlement from Lombard’s estate in the amount of $3.51 for a parts repair at the Hillcrest Motor Co.


The assumption that the vehicle is a Rolls Royce comes from the repair listed as “replace emblem & plate on RR streamliner”. It’s true that there was a vehicle called the Rolls Royce Streamliner but this dealership, Hillcrest, didn’t deal in Rolls Royces. A closer look at the bill of sale shows the logos for Cadillac and LaSalle. And an even closer look lists the model number of the vehicle as 41-62. The 41-62 is a 1941 Cadillac, Series 62 similar to the one in the image below. And I’m 99.9% sure what was being replaced was the emblem on the rear wheel indicated by the yellow arrow. RR most likely meant Right Rear not Rolls Royce.



But what’s most fascinating is my search led me to a page that discusses Gable buying this 1941 cadillac and giving it to his wife, Lombard. This auto and two other Gable cars are owned by The Petersen Automotive Museum, all likely sold by Kay Gable prior to her death.

So all the pieces fit that the bill of sale from Hillcrest Motor Co. settled by the Carole Lombard estate was for a 1941 Cadillac given to her by Gable (seen on the left in the photo below). It was sent in for a repair with a dated bill of January 13, 1942. Did Gable drop it off or his secretary, Jean Garceau? Is it possible Carole took it in the week before? We’ll never know but what we do know is that on Tuesday, January 13th, Carole was on the first leg of the bond tour. It’s no wonder Gable kept the car. It was her car.


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‘Screenland,’ June 1933: Star-gazing, just in the nick of time

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.15 at 15:36
Current mood: productiveproductive

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It’s the spring of 1933, and around the Hollywood press corps, the word is that Carole Lombard’s marriage to William Powell may be on shaky ground. The editors of Screenlandmagazine, keeping their fingers crossed, go ahead anyway with a profile of the couple. It’s an “analysis” by William E. Benton — not quite astrology, but certainly in the same neighborhood.

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Hokum, to be sure — but this story includes two Lombard-Powell images I’ve never seen before. I’m particularly fascinated by this one:

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If “Fifty Shades Of Grey” had been issued in 1932, might this marriage have been saved?

Another pic is more conventional, but nonetheless intriguing:

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As things turned out, Carole would head to Nevada in late June to establish Nevada residency for a divorce, which took place in mid-August. So this was fortuitous timing by the magazine.

Lombard is featured elsewhere in the issue, such as in a review of “From Hell To Heaven”:

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There’s a story about Carole’s famed star-sapphire ring being briefly lost, then found:

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And we learned that Lombard converted her dressing room into a de facto tea room…a very popular late-afternoon spot for Paramount personnel, including more than a few fellow stars. Got any Earl Grey, Carole?

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Constance Bennett, the actress who according to legend eased Lombard and fellow player Diane Ellis off the Pathe lot in late 1929 because she wanted no blonde competition, graced the cover of the June 1933 Screenland:

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And inside, younger sister Joan discussed Connie in length. From reading her later book, “The Bennett Playbill,” it corroborates their relationship — they were affable, but entirely different personalities:

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joan bennett screenland june 1933ba
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Screenland proudly proclaimed “Exclusive!” to an interview with Amelia Earhart, whose ties with the motion picture industry were closer than one might think. Here she is alongside Cary Grant, probably while she was working as a consultant on Paramount’s “Wings In The Dark”:

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The interview discusses aviation and its portrayal in the movies, and is well worth a read. I know Earhart met Myrna Loy, as I’ve seen photos of the two, but I have no idea whether Amelia ever met Carole, who like her would end up an aviation victim.

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One more press kit for ‘Breakfast’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.14 at 21:00
Current mood: energeticenergetic

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About a year ago, we told you of a pressbook available for Carole Lombard’s 1936 Universal comedy “Love Before Breakfast,” where she’s shown above with Cesar Romero ( Now, a slightly different press kit is up for sale at eBay.

Both versions share the same cover…

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…but what’s inside this version is somewhat different:

carole lombard love before breakfast press kit 01a
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Oh, and there’s one other difference between the press kits — price. Last year’s book had an opening bid of $19.99 (I’m not sure what it ultimately sold for), while this one has a sale price of $299.99, or you can make an offer. It measures 13 3/4 x 19 1/2″ complete and uncut, and has a few small tears. Interested? Then visit

Oh, and one final bit of news: Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will run a two-day tribute to Lauren Bacall on Sept. 15 and 16 (the latter day was to have been her 90th birthday). It’s a fitting tribute to one of the top actresses of the 1940s and ’50s and someone who stood up for classic Hollywood to the end.

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Photos for ‘Fools’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.13 at 14:44
Current mood: curiouscurious

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“Fools For Scandal” invariably ranks pretty low on anyone’s list of Carole Lombard features — there’s a reason Turner Classic Movies buried it in the middle of the night (Eastern time) on Carole’s recent Summer Under The Stars day — but that’s no reason to take it out on the memorabilia associated with the film.

Six photographs and two lobby cards (all originals) are up for auction, all from the same seller. But you’ll need to act fast; bidding closes on Friday for four of the photos, on Saturday for the two other pics and on Sunday for the pair of lobby cards.

Bidding on one image begins at $10:

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carole lombard fools for scandal 41a back

The other five pics have initial bids of $15:

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As for the lobby cards, bidding begins at $100 for both:

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carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 08a

Love the look from Ralph Bellamy as he holds his cigar while Carole soothes her aching stocking feet — “Sorry, dearie, in this movie you play the sap!” (Though I’m certain that Lombard would genuinely have been thrilled to learn that two decades later, Bellamy would portray her beloved Franklin D. Roosevelt on both stage and screen in “Sunrise At Campobello.”)

To learn more about all of these items, visit

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Measuring Hollywood’s b.o. (No, not that kind.)

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.12 at 22:11
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

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It’s summer 1932, and Carole Lombard is making movies, attending the Olympics at the Memorial Coliseum (…and learning that where box-office heft was concerned, she currently was a lightweight.

The Aug. 23, 1932 issue of Variety magazine had film industry news on page 3, and here’s what it looked like:

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And no, those 133 film stars weren’t in need of Lifebuoy soap. (Which reminds me of a story about the Philadelphia Phillies of the early 1930s, then the dregs of the National League. There was a huge sign on the right-field wall of the Phillies’ decrepit ballpark, Baker Bowl, reading “The Phillies Use Lifebuoy.” Someone once wrote underneath the sign, “And they still stink!”) No, this “b.o.” refers to box-office — and a veteran theater operator named Harold B. Franklin graded 133 notable actors based upon their financial impact. Actors were rated from “AA” (top) to “H” (bottom).

As of mid-1932, only two stars earned a “AA” grade from Franklin — MGM’s Greta Garbo…

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…and Paramount’s Maurice Chevalier:

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For this story, Variety grouped stars by studios. Here’s the entire story, isolated from the rest of the page:

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Let’s look at Paramount, Lombard’s studio at the time:

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Yep, Carole is rated “H,” sharing the cellar with Charlie Ruggles and moppet Mitzi Green.

To be fair, at the time Lombard probably deserved to be at the bottom of the Paramount totem pole. She’d been with the studio roughly two years, and the films she’d made had largely been undistinguished. Carole still was learning her craft, and Paramount still was learning how to use her. Compare her status to its other leading ladies: Marlene Dietrich, “A”; Miriam Hopkins, “CC”; Jeanette MacDonald, Lilyan Tashman, Tallulah Bankhead and Sylvia Sidney, all “D”; Nancy Carroll and Claudette Colbert,”E”; and June Collyer, “F.” That’s one loaded roster of feminine talent.

If it was any solace to Lombard, she wasn’t the only one saddled with the burden of being an “H.” Others in the club included Dorothy Jordan, Leila Hyams and Madge Evans (MGM); Claudia Dell and Evelyn Knapp (Warners); Lowell Sherman (RKO); Minna Gombel (Fox) and Charles Bickford and Boris Karloff (Universal). And Lombard’s husband, William Powell, held down a “B” grade at Warners.

But things change. More than a few of the stars with fairly high rankings quickly fell by the wayside (e.g., Anita Page, William Haines), while others who were heretofore anonymous became box-office titans (Mae West, Katharine Hepburn). And had these ratings been done a few years later, Lombard’s grades would have been substantially higher. Just something to think about.

These past few days have been tough; we’re not even halfway through the week and two movie A-listers no longer are with us. Yesterday, it was Robin Williams; today, Lauren Bacall left this mortal coil barely more than a month before she would have turned 90. She’ll always be known for her films with, and marriage to, Humphrey Bogart — but Bacall proved on many occasions that she was a fine actress and genuine star in her own right. Her sultry looks were perfect for film noir of the ’40s, although Lauren continued working, including a memorable two-part “Rockford Files” with James Garner, who passed on last month, and remained a class act to the end. Hope she and Bogey are sharing some drinks with Clark Gable and Carole somewhere in Hollywood heaven. Here’s looking at you, kid, indeed.

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Yet another document from the Lombard estate

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.11 at 23:10
Current mood: melancholymelancholy

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Carole Lombard and Clark Gable didn’t hit the nightclub scene often once they were married, but here’s one of the few exceptions. It’s from January 1941, following the Greek War Relief benefit radio broadcast at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and they’re at the Mocambo (which had just opened on Jan. 3) on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

However, today’s entry isn’t on the couple’s social life, but on the financial details facing the Lombard estate after Carole’s unexpected death in January 1942. We’ve touched on such matters before (,, and now another document has emerged. This pertains to a claim against the estate by a local auto dealer. By matters of money, it’s not very big — less than four dollars for work done — but look what it’s for:

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Can’t read it well? Here are the top and bottom halves:

carole lombard clark gable 1942 estate document 01
carole lombard clark gable 1942 estate document 02

It’s to replace the emblem and plate...on a Rolls Royce streamliner. Now, at first glance that doesn’t appear to be consistent with Carole’s image of lacking pretension, but with the money both sides of the household were making, she could afford to splurge. Or it’s possible that this actually belonged to car buff Gable, but was registered in her name.

So, what does a Rolls Royce streamliner look like? First of all, it should be noted that the most recent models from the company were dated 1939; once World War II broke out, the company quickly shifted to producing engines and other material for the British war effort. And a listing shows no models specifically identified as “streamliners” — this model, the 1939 Phantom III, comes closest to the definition:

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If this was the car in question, no wonder Lombard — who loved modernity in virtually all its forms — was so enamored with it. And here may be the emblem and plate to be replaced:

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So now that you have a possible idea of the car, here’s the rest of the document:

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The seller also furnished a certificate of authenticity:

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Autograph collectors, or simply those interested in Clark and Carole memorabilia, will be interested in this. Bidding opens at $200, and the auction ends at 7:26 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. Interested? Then check things out at

Today’s a tragic day in the entertainment community, as we lost not only one of the most brilliant comic minds of our generation, but someone who became a truly good actor in both comedy and drama. Robin Williams, who had been plagued by severe bouts of depression for years, apparently committed suicide Monday at his northern California home. It’s no secret Williams battled his own internal demons for a long time, including addictions to cocaine and later alcohol, and perhaps in a perverse way those battles ignited his genius. To his credit, however, he rarely if ever let it affect his relationships with people he’d meet; instead, he used his wit to win friends and make others feel at ease. I hope he’s found the peace he sought in his turbulent life, and thank him for the humor and talent he gave us for nearly four decades. Heaven is enjoying a brilliant stand-up act tonight.

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Your guide to Carole Lombard ‘SUTS’ day

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.10 at 01:23
Current mood: happyhappy

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Today, Turner Classic Movies’ Summer Under The Stars torch is passed from William Powell to his one-time wife, Carole Lombard, the third time she’s been a SUTS honoree. Here is the schedule, along with my comments on each film (since the card is nearly similar to what TCM ran in 2011, I’m largely repeating what I ran then, with some minor modifications, again using the one-to-five-star scale; all times Eastern):

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* 6 a.m. — “Virtue” (1932). This arguably is Lombard’s best work before “Twentieth Century.” Her first film at Columbia, this tale of a streetwalker who meets up with a cab driver (Pat O’Brien) unaware of her sordid past features a script punched up by Robert Riskin, a good supporting cast (notably Mayo Methot and Ward Bond) and a feel not unlike the pre-Codes being made at Warners. Truly a winner. * * * *

* 7:30 a.m. — “No More Orchids” (1932). It’s followed by her second film for Columbia, and first collaboration with character actor par excellence Walter Connolly, who portrays her wealthy father. Lyle Talbot is cast as the man Carole’s character wants to marry — but her grandfather (C. Aubrey Smith) insists she marry a foreign prince. For the most part, this is a drama, although Lombard gets some comedic moments early on, especially with Louise Closser Hale. Not quite a classic, but well worth seeing at least once. * * * 1/2

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* 9 a.m. — “In Name Only” (1939). Four of the first five films today are from Columbia; this RKO release, co-starring Cary Grant, is the exception. This capable romantic drama co-stars Kay Francis, as widow Carole meets businessman Cary, and they fall for each other. But Kay’s character, who only wants Grant for his money, won’t let go. (Sounds a bit like real life with another “CG,” doesn’t it?) Enjoy Cary and Carole’s chemistry, and be thankful they at least got to make this movie. * * * 1/2

* 11 a.m. — “Lady By Choice” (1934). The title was Columbia’s way of tying this into its massive hit of the year before, “Lady For A Day,” though this doesn’t feature any of that film’s characters. Carole plays a fan dancer who takes in a troubled woman (May Robson) for publicity purposes and to placate a night-court judge (Connolly). * * *

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* 12:30 p.m. — “Twentieth Century” (1934). Now to the film that put Carole on the map, the film that defined Lombard’s comedic personality, something heretofore only seen sporadically on screen and frequently off it. Credit John Barrymore, who’s brilliant as a Broadway impresario trying to woo the star he shaped back to his production instead of hated Hollywood, and director Howard Hawks for eliciting her brilliant performance. Connolly, Roscoe Karns and Charles Lane head a superb supporting cast. A must-see. * * * * *

* 2:15 p.m. — “The Gay Bride” (1934). Lombard referred to this as her worst film, and while it isn’t one of her better ones, her lone movie at MGM does have some things going for it — such as a solid supporting cast, good direction from Jack Conway and a funny storyline about a gold-digger who gets in with the underworld. Still, Carole’s got a point; this film doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. * * 1/2

* 4 p.m. — “Made For Each Other” (1939). After “Fools For Scandal” turned out a flop (more on that later), Carole transitioned to drama (with some comedic overtones) in co-starring with a Princeton grad named James Stewart; they would collaborate several times on radio, but never team on film again. Directed by John Cromwell, this Selznick International production devolves into melodrama in its second half, but sparkles at times. * * * 1/2

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* 6 p.m. — “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (1941). Here’s a marital farce directed by, of all people, Alfred Hitchcock (a friend of Carole’s who took the assignment as a favor to her). She and Robert Montgomery discover their marriage isn’t legal, and he has to woo her all over again. A solid script by Norman Krasna makes this a winner, though some wish in retrospect supporting players Gene Raymond and Jack Carson had swapped parts. And Hitch photographs Lombard beautifully. * * * * 1/2

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* 8 p.m. — “To Be Or Not To Be” (1942). This is the weekly selection for “Essentials Jr.”, and I’ll be interested in host Bill Hader’s comments about this dark comedy from Ernst Lubitsch. It’s the definite high point of radio legend Jack Benny’s checkered film career, as a troupe of Polish actors led by husband and wife Jack and Carole outwit the Nazis during their occupation. Lombard leaves us at the peak of her acting powers and ethereal beauty. * * * * *

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* 10 p.m. — “True Confession” (1937). Lombard’s final film for Paramount has its supporters and detractors (Leonard Maltin notably is in the latter camp). Make up your mind while watching Carole — portraying a congential liar — cavort with Fred MacMurray, Una Merkel and John Barrymore. This is the day’s lone TCM premiere; let us hope that within the next few years, several more of Lombard’s films will premiere on the channel. * * * 1/2

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* 11:45 p.m. — “Nothing Sacred” (1937). The vision of Technicolor Carole at giant size must have been something to behold in downtown movie palaces. And while she’s the rock this cynical comedy is built upon, she has plenty of support — from co-star Fredric March to old pros like Connolly, Charles Winninger and Margaret Hamilton (wonderful in a bit part) to a script by Ben Hecht that pulls no punches. A hilarious film, and only a rather abrupt ending keeps it from five-star range. * * * * 1/2

* 1:15 a.m. — “Vigil In The Night” (1940). What a transition, from screwball comedy to heavy drama. This adaptation of A.J. Cronin’s story about British nurses, directed by George Stevens, isn’t the easiest of her movies to sit through. But Carole’s sense of professionalism, both as an actress and as her character, makes this worth it, as do co-stars Brian Aherne, Anne Shirley and Peter Cushing. * * * 1/2

* 3 a.m. — “Fools For Scandal” (1938). This may be Lombard’s worst film of the ’30s; certainly it promised more and delivered less than any other of her vehicles. Carole went to Warners with dreams of becoming their top comic actress. Instead, she wound up with a leading man (Fernand Gravet) she had no chemistry with and a muddled script revised a number of times to no end. Lombard later said she knew she had a dud when friends told her how beautiful she looked in it. And she does, the only reason this doesn’t get the lowest rating. * 1/2

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* 4:30 a.m. — “The Golden Age Of Comedy” (1957). I suppose this Robert Youngson compilation qualifies as a Lombard film, as a truncated version of her 1928 Mack Sennett short “Run, Girl, Run” is part of the lineup. While it’s nice to see Carole’s silent days noted, it might have been better to air several of her Sennett two-reelers in their entirety. Maybe next time.* * *

Enjoy today…ironically, the date when a “supermoon” will grace the heavens. Perhaps Lombard has something to do with it.

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Your guide to William Powell ‘SUTS’ day

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.09 at 01:53
Current mood: excitedexcited

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Today opens a special weekend for many Turner Classic Movies fans, as Carole Lombard and her first husband, William Powell, each are honored on TCM’s beloved August extravaganza, “Summer Under The Stars.” We’re going to list the films scheduled on both days, with information and comments.

Powell, whom Roger Ebert so wonderfully described as “the man who is to diction what Fred Astaire is to dance,” is today’s subject (for the first time on SUTS!), so let’s examine what we’ll see (and hear) of him (all times Eastern). We’ll rate the films from one to five stars:

* 6 a.m. — “The Road To Singapore” (1931). Have never seen this one (and it’s obviously not in the Hope-Crosby canon), but TCM describes it this way: “A woman’s life falls to pieces when she’s caught cheating on her husband”…and one presumes Powell is the guy she’s cheating with. I believe this was Bill’s first film for Warners. With Doris Kenyon and Louis Calhern. For lack of more information, I’ll rate this in the midpoint. * * *

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* 7:30 a.m. — “Jewel Robbery” (1932). This one I have seen — and love it. Powell plays a debonair, non-violent jewel thief who disarms his foes by handing them cigarettes laced with marijuana (this would have been a big hit on college campuses in the late 1960s); Kay Francis (his best non-Myrna Loy leading lady) is a countess who falls for his derring-do. Pre-Code fun, and you even see Kay’s bare back being massaged! Would have loved to have seen the Powell-Francis pairing “One Way Passage,” too, but you can’t have everything. * * * * 1/2

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* 8:45 a.m. — “Lawyer Man” (1932). This would be Powell’s only film with Joan Blondell (yes, he ogles her lovely legs like any red-blooded American male would), and they have fine chemistry as he plays a New York City attorney who falls prey to corruption when success lifts him from the Lower East Side to swanky Midtown. * * * 1/2

* 10 a.m. — “Double Harness” (1933). Powell made this San Francisco-set drama on loan to RKO, with the always-capable Ann Harding playing his love interest. John Cromwell, who later would direct Lombard’s “Made For Each Other” and “In Name Only,” was behind the lens for this. * * * 1/2

* 11:15 a.m. — “Manhattan Melodrama” (1934). OK, gang, here begins the Bill and Myrna marathon — seven straight Powell-Loy teamings, and this is the first. It’s also the only film Powell, by now at MGM, made with Carole’s other husband, Clark Gable, as they play old chums who wind up on opposite sides of the law (Bill good, Clark bad); Loy’s the love of both. Even if John Dillinger hadn’t seen this film before being gunned down, it would be part of cinematic lore. Watch it. * * * * 1/2

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* 1 p.m. — “Libeled Lady” (1936). Another must-see — in fact, it’s a literal four-star comedy (Powell, Loy, Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy). In recent years, it’s come to be recognized as one of the best comedies of the 1930s (the interaction between the characters is something to behold), and Powell’s frenetic fishing scene proves he could do physical comedy as well as Cary Grant or other contemporaries. This is one I never tire of seeing…and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. * * * * *

* 2:45 p.m. — “Double Wedding” (1937). Some really love this film, but to me it’s the least of the Powell-Loy collaborations (non-Nick and Nora division). It has its moments, but Powell doesn’t seem quite up to it (likely because Jean Harlow died during production, which sent him into depression and eventually ill health). Good for Bill and Myrna completists, not so good for everyone else. * * *

* 4:30 p.m. — “I Love You Again” (1940). A great plot: Powell plays a small-town Chamber of Commerce type who falls overboard on a ship, develops amnesia (for the second time, it turns out) and regains his former identity…as a sharpie con man. He returns to wife Loy in a small Pennsylvania town, planning to pull a heist while maintaining the upright citizen image the town is familiar with. He even plays a youth troop master! With Frank McHugh as his old gang cohort and Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer as one of the troop members. * * * * 1/2

* 6:15 p.m. — “Love Crazy” (1941). Bill is fearful wife Myrna will divorce him, so he feigns insanity to prevent her from being able to do just that. This film has grown on me in recent years, perhaps because Gail Patrick, queen of the “other women,” portrays Powell’s old flame. Watch for the elevator scene, and Bill’s battles with Gail’s small dog, not to mention seeing him in drag near the end (sans mustache, of course!) * * * *

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* 8 p.m. — “The Thin Man” (1934). Who could make marriage, martinis and murder so much fun? Nick and Nora Charles, that’s who (with terrier Asta by their side). Powell, heretofore known for playing sleuth Philo Vance in a number of films, would make this Dashiell Hammett character his definitive role, both in this movie and in five sequels. If you’re one of the few who’s never seen this, what are you waiting for? It’s an “Essential” (tonight, literally so). * * * * *

* 9:45 p.m. — “After The Thin Man” (1936). Powell’s 1936 is arguably the greatest calendar year any actor has ever had (“My Man Godfrey,” “Libeled Lady,” “The Great Ziegfeld,” “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford”), and this closed out the year, as the Charleses travel to San Francisco for relaxation…but a murder occurs and they’re called to action. A young James Stewart has a supporting role here. * * * *

* 11:45 p.m. — “Crossroads” (1942). This tale of European intrigue was the first of Powell’s two pairings with lovely Hedy Lamarr. Not the most exciting of Bill’s films, but he’s always worth watching. * * * 1/2

* 1:15 a.m. — “Mister Roberts” (1955). This would turn out to be Powell’s final film, and what a way to go out. His Doc is a supporting role to Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon, but Bill’s in good form in this cinematic adaptation of the Broadway service comedy. Oh, and Betsy Palmer’s one of the few females in the cast, years before countless game show appearances and her role in the original “Friday The 13th.” * * * * 1/2

* 3:30 a.m. — “The Girl Who Had Everything” (1953). Powell made two movies with Elizabeth Taylor, first “Life With Father” in 1947 and then this comedy with a grown-up Liz. Fernando Lamas is also in the cast, but since I’ve never seen this one, I have no idea whether it’s “marvelous.” * * *

* 4:45 a.m. — “High Pressure” (1932). Bill leads in to Lombard’s day with this early Warners comedy, where he plays a promoter trying to sell artificial rubber. Sounds a bit like Cagney’s “Hard To Handle” the following year, although Powell is nowhere as energetic as James. (Then again, who is?) Guy Kibbee, part of the great Warners stable of character actors, has a supporting role. * * * 1/2

For more on Powell’s day — including social media — visit

william powell 2014 SUTS

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Some Carole from the 1920s

Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.08 at 18:45
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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Above is an attractive photo of the young Carole Lombard I believe I’ve never seen before, from the November 1928 issue of the Spanish-language fan magazine Cine-Mundial. A perusal of the Media History Digital Library today revealed yet more goodies from the 1920s…specifically 1925.

We’ll begin with the June 1925 issue of Picture Play, where co-authors Edwin and Elza Schallert wrote a roundup column. (You’ve seen the Schallerts’ son William, then not yet three years old, in countless film and TV roles — and he’s still working at age 92.)

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Can’t read it? Here’s the section in question, with Lombard mentioned near the end:

carole lombard picture play june 1925ab

Also in that issue was a photo of the youthful Lombard that we’ve seen before; the film it’s from is labeled “The Best Man,” but was released under the title “Marriage In Transit”:

carole lombard picture play june 1925ad

Also in June (the 20th, to be precise), Motion Picture News reviewed “Hearts And Spurs.” Since the film is lost, this becomes by default the best description we have of this western:

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And another western in which Carole was in the cast, “Durand Of The Badlands,” was summarized in the December Photoplay:

carole lombard photoplay december 1925b

That’s it for now. Remember that on Saturday, William Powell is featured on Turner Classic Movies’ “Summer Under The Stars,” followed by 24 hours of Carole on Sunday. Why leave the house all weekend?

Posted August 31, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Entries, July 2014   Leave a comment

The ‘Stars’ come out tomorrow!

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.31 at 19:12
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

Turner Classic Movies begins its always-welcome Summer Under The Stars promotion tomorrow, and above are two of this year’s honorees — William Powell on the 9th, and ex-wife Carole Lombard on the 10th.

Quite a few other Carole contemporaries will have SUTS days. They include David Niven (Aug. 2 — he had a supporting role in the 1938 Lux Radio Theater adaptation of “My Man Godfrey”), Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Muni and James Stewart (Aug. 4-7), Cary Grant (Aug. 13), Claudette Colbert (Aug. 18), Lee Tracy (Aug. 21), Dick Powell (Aug. 25) and Betty Grable (Aug. 30).

If you go to, it now has pages for all 31 stars to be honored, including a career overview, biography, films to be shown on his or her day and even a social space for fans.

As usual, it promises to be fun…especially with Lombard being part of SUTS for the third time (she previously was honored in 2006 and 2011). Hope your system carries TCM, and if it doesn’t, make friends with someone who has it.

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It’s time for…yet another year of Vin (hooray!)

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.30 at 09:25
Current mood: happyhappy

(We make one of our occasional visits to Hollywood heaven, where last night Carole Lombard was sitting in front of her big-screen TV — and up there, “big” means nine feet high and 20 feet wide — when Clark Gable enters the room and sits next to her.)

Clark: Whatcha got on?
Carole: The Dodger game. Between-innings break.
Clark (surprised): Say, isn’t that an ad for…
Carole: Yep, Forest Lawn — as if our mortal selves needed more neighbors. But at least it’s done tastefully. It is rather amusing to think they sponsor ballgames.
Clark: The ultimate growth industry. (The game returns to the screen.) Hmmm, 4-4 vs. the Braves, bottom of the seventh.
Carole: But you haven’t heard the big news!
Clark: Well, I see that Yasiel Puig is trying for the cycle. That’s pretty big.
Carole (nodding): He’s singled, doubled, tripled; now he needs a home run…but no, that’s not the news I was talking about. (Puig doesn’t hit a home run, but beats out an infield grounder to third for a single.)
Clark: So, what is it?
(Carole reaches for the magic remote, presses a button and “BREAKING NEWS” pops up.)
Clark: So, did they finally resolve that dispute over coverage of their new cable channel? Of course, up here we get everything.
Carole: Just watch, Pa.

Carole: As she said, it’s not just breaking news, it’s fantastic news! Vin Scully is going to do Dodger games for his 66th season.
Clark: Longer than either you or I walked the earth. (Pauses.) I recall when they moved out to LA and played at the Coliseum, people carried their transistor radios to the games and Vin won them over.
Carole: He’s still damn good. Hey, let’s get back to the ballgame.

Clark: I see Puig just scored on that groundout to make it 5-4. Now here’s Matt Kemp.
Carole: He homered earlier — in fact, soon after the Scully announcement was made.
Clark: And it looks as if he may do it again! Way back…
Carole: Center field — 7-4! Woo-hoo! (Smiles.) You know who’s gonna be happy about this? My old campaign manager from when I won the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney ( One, he just moved to Los Angeles, and the cable system in his new apartment carries the Dodger games — Vin can’t even get them at his home! Two, he’s a Washington Nationals fan, and if LA’s bullpen holds on, the Nats will keep their half-game lead in the NL East.

They indeed held on — added an insurance run in the eighth, in fact — and won 8-4. Your humble administrator here, and yes, I am thrilled Scully is coming back for 2015. When my parents and older sister lived in Brooklyn in the early ’50s, they heard his work as he was just starting out in the industry. Now, I’ll have a chance to do likewise…and he remains a joy to listen to. Vin unites generations, and I think it safe to say that no announcer is more beloved by his audience.

More can be found at Oh, and that microphone given away last night (sponsored by Farmer John, whose Dodger Dogs and other meat products Vin has endorsed for decades) features six of Scully’s signature calls, including his trademark “It’s time for Dodger baseball.” Didn’t get one? I’m sure many will be available at eBay.

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Hollywood’s neglected towering beauty

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.29 at 12:08
Current mood: depresseddepressed

Hollywood — both in the literal and figurative sense — was in Carole Lombard’s soul. Most of her films were made at studios which then called Hollywood home (Paramount, Columbia and RKO), she was one of the few stars who actually lived on Hollywood Boulevard (the above photo was taken in that house), and she spent plenty of time at hotspots such as the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill, the Vine Street Brown Derby or the short-lived West Coast version of Sardi’s.

So chances are that Carole saw this building countless times while traveling through Hollywood; heck, she may have set foot in the building a time or two:

It’s the First National Bank building at the northeast corner of Hollywood and Highland, taken in 1928, about the time of its opening. In Lombard’s day, it would have been impossible to miss, standing 190 feet from the ground floor to the tip of its tower. Only City Hall, built several miles away in downtown the previous year, was taller.

The First National tower was equally impressive at night:

It dominated the Hollywood skyline:

In her excellent blog “The Daily Mirror,” Mary Mallory notes the building was designed as a reflection of Hollywood’s booming economic self-confidence in the late 1920s ( Financial, medical and entertainment offices filled it to 80 percent capacity by mid-1929…but then the bottom fell out. First National became prey to a series of takeovers, most recently by Bank of America.

As for the building? As newer office space popped up around Hollywood, the old tower lost favor. For the past few years, Mallory wrote, it’s stood “empty and forlorn at Hollywood and Highland, left unkempt and dirty…” All the action is on the other side of Highland, namely the new, glitzy retail of the Hollywood & Highland complex — similar to classic Hollywood being cast aside in favor of blockbusters with colossal opening-weekend box office hauls:

Even a nearby Metrorail station apparently can’t come to the aid of this stately dowager.

As Mallory so eloquently concluded, “May someone recognize the jewel of this building and restore and reopen it to its previous splendor, celebrating another revival of business Hollywood.” Let’s keep our fingers crossed that’s just what happens.

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Sliding at the party

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.28 at 21:48
Current mood: artisticartistic

Carole Lombard’s party at the Venice pier amusement park in June 1935 (she’s shown with Frances Drake and Josephine Hutchinson) has become the stuff of legend. It received substantial coverage from the press of the time, such as this report in Florida’s St. Petersburg Evening Independent...

…not to mention plenty of photos. And in the past few days, the identity of a participant in one of the night’s most famous pictures has come under dispute. Here’s the pic in question:

It’s Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, right? Well, in a comment to received Saturday, someone disagrees. The person, who has other pics of the sliding scene, says, “That is Edith Piaf the singer, not Colbert pictured.”

Er, I don’t think so.

Note Dietrich and Colbert were mentioned riding the slide in the Associated Press report above. Moreover, Piaf was born in Paris on Dec. 19, 1915 and didn’t vault to fame in her native France until sometime in 1935. According to biographers, she never toured the U.S. until after World War II.

So that’s Colbert with Dietrich — and here’s Claudette with Carole in another party pic:

That photo, an 8″ x 10″ original in very good to excellent condition, is up for auction at eBay. Bidding begins at $10 and is set to conclude at 5:48 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. If you’d like to own this, go to

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Soon, we’ll be ‘Under The Stars’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.27 at 16:54
Current mood: pensivepensive

OK, so many of you can’t read the copy above unless you’re fluent in Spanish, but forget the words and focus on Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray and John Barrymore, the three stars of “True Confession.” Two weeks from today, Turner Classic Movies will air that 1937 comedy for the first time as part of its Aug. 10 celebration of Carole on its month-long jubilee of classic Hollywood legends, “Summer Under The Stars.”

That’s a caricature of David Niven, the Aug. 2 honoree. And the Long Island newspaper Newsday (where my Facebook friend and former journalistic colleague Valerie Kellogg writes about real estate, including all those classic mansions) did a short feature on SUTS the other day ( It begins Friday — and don’t forget TCM’s 24-hour memorial tribute to James Garner on Monday.

With luck, I’ll be able to catch some of it from my new apartment, as I’m scheduled to have cable, phone and Internet service installed tomorrow. That will mean I’ll finally be able to use my desktop computer for the first time since mid-June…what a relief. Keep your fingers crossed.

I also note that today’s entry marks the 2,750th since Carole & Co. began on June 13, 2007 (most have been written by me). We hope for more milestones in the future.

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Homeward bound…to my new home

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.26 at 03:33
Current mood: excitedexcited

This photo of Jane Alice Peters (the future Carole Lombard) and her mother and brothers was taken in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1911; three years later, the four of them would be headed to Los Angeles. Today, I am finally doing likewise.

The moving vans have picked up what I am transporting from Charlottesville, Va., the apartment has been cleared out, and by day’s end I’ll have returned to my new apartment after being away for two weeks, preparing for a rather hectic upcoming week, as I gradually settle into a new routine. On Monday, cable, phone and Internet service will be installed, I’ll secure a storage space a few blocks away, and some furniture is expected to be delivered from the Glendale Galleria.

But it will be worth it.

Just as it did the Peters family a century ago, so has Los Angeles seduced me. She dazzles you with her beauty, surprises you with her substance, and gradually you come to realize just how special she is…and how completely she’s got you under her spell. It’s a city poised for a dynamic future, but also aware of its colorful past — and I intend to fully explore part of that past, even more so than I have for the past seven-plus years.

Soon I’ll be living fully on Pacific time, becoming acclimated to ballgames back east that start at 4 p.m., or discovering what happened at the closing bell on Wall Street at 1 p.m. (KNX, the Los Angeles all-news station, does a full hour financial report from 1 to 2 p.m. each weekday, something its eastern brethren can’t duplicate because they’re in the midst of the afternoon rush hour.)

Yes, homeward bound.

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A silent comparison in Britain: Chaplin vs. Lloyd

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.25 at 20:15
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

It’s July 1925, and 16-year-old Carole Lombard is a Fox contract player, fresh off being Edmund Lowe’s leading lady in “Marriage In Transit.” (It’s unclear whether it can be called a success; the film is lost, and years later Lombard disparaged her performance.) Regardless, Carole was of relative insignificance in the industry that summer, certainly compared to two titans of comedy…

…Charlie Chaplin (whom Lombard unsuccessfully sought to become his leading lady in “The Gold Rush”) and Harold Lloyd (whom Carole probably met at one time or another, but beyond that I have no idea how often their paths crossed).

We bring this up because Britain’s Guardian newspaper just issued an article from its archives, written 89 years ago today, which compared their styles and approaches to comedy and film (which the Brits then called “kinema”). It’s fascinating to see at least one contemporary account on Charlie and Harold. (Oh, and if you’re wondering about Buster Keaton, the other member of silent comedy’s holy trinity, he’s mentioned too, if only in passing.)

This piece came in the wake of Lloyd’s latest release, “College Days” (the British title for “The Freshman”). The writer commends Harold for knowing his limitations, and not seeking to overproduce himself. It’s interesting to see Lloyd criticized for being too sentimental, a charge frequently levied against Chaplin in later decades. Perhaps Charlie, the first true superstar of silent comedy, was beyond reproach in those days; remember, he came to the forefront well before Keaton or Lloyd.

From 1925 Britain, let’s fast-forward to 2014 Los Angeles. A video camera was placed atop a drone early one morning and made its way through downtown…but it didn’t examine those huge modern bank towers. Instead, it focused on what’s called “the downtown core” — most of them buildings Lombard would have recognized. One is the iconic Eastern Columbia building, where my Facebook friend Monica Lewis, an MGM starlet in 1950, stood in front of its huge clock for a publicity picture, one that must have made her feel like Lloyd in “Safety Last!”:

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You better ‘Run, Girl, Run’ for this Sennett collection

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.24 at 19:31
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

Carole Lombard had made movies before coming to work for Mack Sennett in the fall of 1927, but it was Sennett who ignited the comedy spark in Carole that finally caused a figurative fire in Hollywood several years later.

While only a handful of Lombard’s short films for Sennett, such as “Run, Girl, Run,” above, have gained wide exposure (while not always being in the best of shape), that also can be said for the output of many of the talented people who worked for him at one time or another. But shortly, that may be changing.

More than 100 of Sennett’s seminal shorts — his “greatest hits,” if you will — have been fully restored and digitally remastered, using original sources such as 35 mm nitrate, archival negatives and even the lone surviving film print. Fifty of those are to be released next month in a three-disc set, “The Mack Sennett Collection, Vol. 1.”

“Run, Girl, Run” is the lone Lombard film in the set, but there were so many other stars who learned the ropes at Sennett. Some of the titles still are fondly remembered by silent comedy buffs today…”Fatty And Mabel Adrift,” “Teddy At The Throttle,” “A Rainy Knight,” “Hoboken To Hollywood.” (There even are two Sennett sound shorts included, one of which is “The Fatal Glass Of Beer” with W.C. Fields.)

The films’ total time is 405 minutes (that’s 6 3/4 hours), and there are plenty of bonus features, including a 16-page booklet and memorabilia galleries.

Have I whetted your appetite? (No doubt a few of you are responding like Pavlovian dogs — just don’t salivate over the keyboard.) You want to know where you can get this…we’ll, I’ll tell you. The Sennett collection will have a list price of $59.95 — but you can pre-order it for $49.95 through Flicker Alley by going to It’s expected to ship on or before Aug. 12.

And for those of you who remain unconvinced, check out this intro to the collection (and view it in HD):

Great news for those of us who love Sennett, and let’s hope this and Vol. 2 lead to a long-awaited complete, restored set of Carole’s Sennett performances — a nice gift to get for a future Christmas:

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Always good to please your agent

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.23 at 18:19
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

Carole Lombard was sufficiently savvy as a businesswoman to know the benefits of being on good terms with your agent. Unlike Lombard, I’ve never had need for one, but perhaps now that I’m on the verge of completing my move to Los Angeles (the mover took my stuff today, I’ll dispose of leftover items from my old apartment tomorrow and Friday, and I’m slated to fly back Saturday) that may change.

As a published author of several books, Michelle Morgan has worked with agents for some time…and her latest contact with one could spell good news for Lombard fans. From her Facebook page:

“Good news for Carole Lombard fans…My agent really liked my book proposal! He recommended a few changes which I worked on this morning, now it is on its way back to him. Next stop…Prospective publishers! Hold a good thought!”

You can be sure we will, Michelle. You’ve worked on this endeavor for several years, with more starts and stops than Wilshire Boulevard at rush hour. Chances now are very good that this finally will reach fruition, and your book will join the array of volumes devoted to our favorite star. Congratulations for clearing yet another hurdle.

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Could Woody’s latest have used Carole’s ‘Magic’?

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.22 at 17:48
Current mood: disappointeddisappointed

There’s Carole Lombard with John Barrymore, both under the watchful eye of director Howard Hawks in “Twentieth Century.” We bring this up because Lombard and Barrymore were cited in a review of the latest film from a director who perhaps admires classic Hollywood style more than any of his contemporaries…

…Woody Allen.

“Magic In The Moonlight,” another in his recent series of Europe-set films, opens in some markets this weekend, and while “Midnight In Paris” was the equivalent of hitting a triple with two runners aboard, most critics rate “Magic” a weak infield single, relatively minor Allen fare. In fact, here’s what Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter had to say about it (

“Set in an F. Scott Fitzgerald-esque Cote d’Azur populated by rich Brits and Yanks, this story of an impetuous maestro’s plan to cut off an alluring arriviste at the knees could have been filmed in 1935 by George Cukor, Frank Borzage or Gregory La Cava, starred John Barrymore and Carole Lombard and probably would have been the better for it. It certainly would have more comfortably fit the Depression-era zeitgeist, as well as the public’s ready acceptance of fluffy, patently absurd comic premises.”

An interesting premise to ponder, that — had “Twentieth Century” been anywhere near the monster hit that its Columbia stablemate “It Happened One Night” turned out to be, the public might have demanded a Barrymore-Lombard re-teaming. (Then again, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert didn’t reunite on screen until 1940.)

What studio might have agreed to a ’35 ‘Magic in The Moonlight”? Columbia, where Harry Cohn invariably gave Carole better treatment than she received at her home studio of Paramount (though once Ernst Lubitsch became head of production, that probably would have changed)? RKO, which always seemed to like such properties?

We’ll never know. But Allen’s “Moonlight,” while relatively ephemeral by the standards of his past films, does have some things going for it.

Emma Stone, probably delighted to show she can be more than Spider-Man eye candy (though she’ll never get anywhere near the paychecks she receives for those blockbusters), makes a game effort, according to McCarthy, and comes off better than Colin Firth, who’s uncomfortable in his character’s bitterness.

For all we know, while filming this, Allen himself may have wished he could have conjured up Carole and “the Great Profile” as the leads. Alas, that’s a magic trick beyond the reach of even big-budget CGI special effects.

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James Garner: An actor who made it look so easy

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.21 at 20:52
Current mood: gratefulgrateful

Last month, we did an entry about someone asking San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle if Carole Lombard would be a star today, or if Tom Hanks could have done likewise in the 1920s ( LaSalle answered yes to the former (“…we know that Carole Lombard would succeed in any era because she doessucceed — show her in a movie from 75 years ago, and everyone still falls in love with her”) and is unsure on the latter (“As for Tom Hanks, it’s hard to imagine this phenomenon in reverse”).

I can see where LaSalle is coming from (though the “language” of silent film makes it difficult to transpose current-day stars to the ’20s), but it’s been said there’s an exception to every rule…and we lost one of those exceptions Saturday night. His name: James Garner.

Garner, who died at 86, was an actor you could imagine succeeding in any era from the 1930s on. His style of light comedy evoked William Powell or Cary Grant, although his type was more western than either, sort of along the lines of Gary Cooper. (One key difference from Cooper was that Garner rarely portrayed the traditional hero; his characters invariably had a bit of rogue in them.)

Garner rose to fame via the gently satiric ’50s western “Maverick” and had another iconic TV series, “The Rockford Files” in the ’70s. But his film career was considerable, as he showed off his skill in both comedy and drama. The Village Voice named five “sleeper” films of his (

Two of them will air next Monday as Turner Classic Movies presents a 24-hour James Garner tribute ( “Marlowe” and Garner’s personal favorite, the brilliant anti-war film “The Americanization Of Emily” with Julie Andrews.

Watch Garner’s remarkably effortless (and professional) acting, then envision him as a leading man for Lombard, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck or other ’30s icons. It’s not that difficult to imagine.

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Put on your (silent) shorts, Junior

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.20 at 07:06
Current mood: giddygiddy

Silent two-reelers for Mack Sennett such as 1928’s “The Campus Vamp” helped hone Carole Lombard’s comedic knowhow, though it would take half a dozen years to fully exploit such skills. At 8 tonight (Eastern), you’ll be able to witness work from some of the masters of silent comedy, as part of…

Silent comedy has been a part of “Essentials Jr.” since the summer series debuted a few years ago, but this year, rather than run one comedian’s feature, TCM has decided to run several shorts from the biggest names in the trade.

Things begin with “Coney Island” (1917), starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and a young, pre-“Stone Face” Buster Keaton. They were good friends, and many of the things that would make Keaton such a superb comedian and filmmaker were learned as a protege of Arbuckle (who now is finally being appreciated for his talent).

“The Immigrant” (1917) is deservedly one of Charlie Chaplin’s best-known shorts, filled with humor and heart. A meticulous filmmaker (he filmed nearly 90,000 feet of film for this), his scenes with Edna Purviance on both a tramp steamer and in a cafe are sublime.

“Never Weaken” (1921) was Lloyd’s last short subject, and it points the path for some of his later “thrill” comedies such as “Safety Last!” and “Girl Shy.” The concept of a man planning to kill himself after thinking his true love’s heart belongs to another may seem in poor taste to 2014 sensibilities, but Lloyd makes it work — and also makes it funny.

We conclude with a team not always associated with silent comedy, but Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were geniuses at the game long before audiences heard them speak (completely in tune with their personas). “Two Tars” (1928) casts them as sailors on leave; they pick up two girls, prepare to have a fun afternoon…then comedic chaos results. Several specially-constructed “breakaway” cars are torn apart, adding to the fun.

Not enough silent comedy for you? Chaplin’s 1925 masterpiece “The Gold Rush” (the film which a teenage Lombard unsuccessfully sought to become his leading lady) airs at 10 p.m., followed by even more comedic shorts. See today’s schedule at; learn more about the “Essentials Jr.” list at

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Remembering the man who turned Carole into a paper doll

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.19 at 22:22
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

Above is a fairly common publicity still of Carole Lombard from her breakthrough film, “Twentieth Century”…but I’m guessing at least a few of you first became aware of Carole in leopard skin through the cover of this book:

We mention this because the man behind that book and scores — no, make that hundreds –– of other publications devoted to paper dolls has passed away. Tom Tierney, 85, died July 12. He warranted a fairly lengthy obit in the New York Times (

Tierney, a former New York fashion illustrator, had created paper doll books for the past four decades, beginning with “Thirty From The ’30s” in 1974:

Here’s a newspaper article about the book from January 1975:

That book had four outfits for Lombard, including the aforementioned “Twentieth Century” design later reused in the “Glamorous Movie Stars Of The Thirties Paper Dolls” shown above:

What made Tierney’s work so popular wasn’t just his artistry, but his research — and sheer breadth of topics. Rather than restrict himself to Hollywood glamour, he made paper dolls of historical figures, from presidents (and first ladies) to royals and even Pope John Paul II. The Times obit described his books as “meticulously drawn and colored, and annotated with historical information”; in other words, not only could you have fun with paper dolls, but you could learn something about costume history as well.

It was a niche interest, to be sure, but a very profitable one for Tierney, as he nearly single-handedly revived an industry that had been dormant for decades, especially after the advent of Barbie.

He will be missed.

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Cheers to a lead-in ‘Under The Stars’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.18 at 01:51
Current mood: amusedamused

Turner Classic Movies has released its promo for this year’s “Summer Under The Stars,” its annual August extravaganza, and Carole Lombard (the Aug. 10 honoree) is shown in a snippet from “Nothing Sacred.” You can view the promo at; the entire schedule can be seen in PDF form at

(That PDF features caricatures of all the honorees…Carole’s shows her putting up her dukes in the “Nothing Sacred” fight scene.)

The promo also includes Aug. 9 honoree (and SUTS newcomer) William Powell blowing smoke rings in “The Thin Man” as only Powell (or Nick Charles) can:

Some more things to know about Carole’s day:

* “True Confession,” to air at 10 p.m. (Eastern), is indeed a TCM premiere;

* While “Fools For Scandal,” which airs at 3 a.m., is the final true Lombard film of the night, it will be followed at 4:30 by “The Golden Age Of Comedy,” a 1958 compilation which shows part of Carole’s silent Sennett short “Run, Girl, Run”;

* Every SUTS artist this year is getting a hashtag for the Twitterverse, and Carole’s is #LombardTCM.

Finally, I want to note that my Facebook friend Francine York will be among the more than 75 celebrities appearing at the “Hollywood Show” today through Sunday at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel (; other notables expected to be on hand include Shirley Jones, Barbara Eden, Sybil Danning and more. Alas, I’m back in Virginia clearing out my old apartment and won’t be able to attend, but if you do go, tell Francine I said hello.

A few weeks ago, Marilyn Slater of the “Looking For Mabel” blog took some photos of Francine while she was attending the Diane McBain book signing at Larry Edmunds bookstore ( Here’s another shot of her — and look who’s also in the picture. Yep, it’s moi...and for once, I actually photographed well! I credit Francine, whose presence forced me to “raise my game,” so to speak.


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Will the Fox guard the TCM henhouse?

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.17 at 20:31
Current mood: anxiousanxious

This still of Carole Lombard with Warner Baxter from “The Arizona Kid” in 1930 is more or less the last time Lombard was associated with the Fox studio. But thanks to the machinations of the telecommunications industry, that soon may change.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned conglomerate now known as 21st Century-Fox (apologies to Darryl F. Zanuck, but you’ve got to change with the times) made a hostile bid for TimeWarner earlier this week. (That name isn’t entirely accurate now, as earlier this year the firm jettisoned its magazine division, including Time.) The bid was spurned, but that doesn’t mean Murdoch — who has a knack for getting what he wants — can’t sweeten the deal to woo stockholders. Many analysts label Fox buying TimeWarner a “when,” not an “if.”

Much of the conjecture regarding the deal concerns CNN (which Murdoch probably would peddle for antitrust reasons) or Fox coveting MLB and NBA rights now property of TBS and TNT. Of course, as classic Hollywood buffs, we take a slightly different angle; our focus is on another TimeWarner property…

…Turner Classic Movies, which turned 20 this past April. Under Fox ownership, might it change by the time it turns 25 in 2019 — and if so, by how much?

It’s easy to crack simplistic jokes about Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz being replaced by the classic movie equivalent of leggy, vapid Fox News blondes. (Gretchen Carlson just attacked the 17-year-old “Seinfeld” Festivus episode for undermining Christianity.) But seriously, what might Fox do with TCM?

Will McKinley, at his fine site “Cinematically Insane,” examined this the other day ( His thoughts are well worth checking out. And here are some thoughts of my own:

* Don’t let what happened with Fox Movie Channel, which not long ago abandoned its all-classic, commercial-free format, lead you to believe TCM will suffer the same ignominious fate. FMC was little-watched as few systems carried it, and had a small film library (how many times could one watch “No Highway In The Sky”?) from a single studio. In contrast, TCM has a far bigger library or contractual agreements with studios (including Fox in recent years), is carried by the vast majority of cable and satellite systems, and in short has positioned itself as a “brand.” Such cachet should lead Murdoch to treat TCM along the lines of the Wall Street Journal, not the New York Post.

* Where home video is concerned, McKinley points out that the Warner Archive has done a far better job — both commercially and aesthetically — than Fox’s equivalent (Fox Cinema Archives), and Warners probably would take command in any merger of the two.

Yes, classic film fans have every right to be wary, but as McKinley writes, “at first glance, it appears to me that this merger would only likely increase access to, and availability of, classic films and TV shows.”

And speaking of TCM, not long ago I saw one of these tour buses along Hollywood Boulevard — nearly three months after the TCM Classic Film Festival, when the tours were offered on a short-lived basis. Now, the TCM Movie Locations Tour has been brought back, complementing the TCM Classic Film Tour offered in New York.

Not just a “Hollywood” tour, the three-hour excursion takes riders all over film-related locations across Los Angeles, dating back to silent times. To learn more or to make reservations, go to

The furniture has arrived!

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.08 at 20:14
Current mood: excitedexcited

I like to think that somewhere, Carole Lombard is smiling because I’ve finally moved into my Los Angeles apartment; the furniture arrived today. It’s been nearly three weeks since the bed, computer desk and chair, TV, nightstand and other items were packed back in Virginia, and I had to wait my turn as other matters were attended to during this transcontinental move. It’s been worth it — tonight I finally get to sleep in my own bed.

If only I could say my view of the Los Angeles skyline was as spectacular as that photo. But I’m on the fourth floor (albeit the top one) of my 1920s apartment, and I face neither the downtown skyscrapers or the mountains above what locals call “the basin.” No complaints, however — the view faces southwest, so I don’t have to worry about direct sunlight (always good for a writer). And there is sort of a Lombard vibe to the area; I’m not all that far from 138 North Wilton Place, where Carole lived with her family for much of the 1920s, or Virgil Junior High School, one-time home of student Jane Alice Peters.

Were Lombard to magically rematerialize in this part of LA today, she’d see many buildings and storefronts still around from her time, but they’d be complemented by modern stucco low-rise apartments and the ubiquitous two-story mini-malls. The people would be different, too — not large strains of Midwest emigres like the Peters family, but a diverse ethnic blend of Koreans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, blacks and other groups. I’ve been told the neighborhood is a fairly quiet one…probably not all that different from the 1920s, though residents now use the Red and Purple subway lines, not the Red and Yellow streetcars.

My new apartment is comfy, but the building has its quirks — chiefly an elevator that’s been here from day one (more than 85 years). The metal exterior door opens with a handle, but thankfully won’t open if it isn’t on your floor. But you have to make certain it’s completely shut, or it won’t operate. And when you’re on the fourth floor and someone who just left the first floor didn’t close it all the way, well, you’re stuck until someone else boards.

The move isn’t complete. I can’t use my desktop computer or TV yet, because they won’t be installed until later this month. And later this week, I’ll return east to clear out what’s left of my old digs. But by the time July ends, I’ll be an Angeleno for good…just like Lombard was.

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Last rites for the rom-com?

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.07 at 17:00
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

It’s been nearly 78 years since “My Man Godfrey,” with Carole Lombard and William Powell heading a superlative cast, hit theaters en route to nearly universal acclaim (well, it was a Universal production). It certainly ranks among the peaks of the romantic comedy, a genre whose roots in Hollywood date to the late 1910s. (A reminder that silent comedy is far more than slapstick.)

But is that genre threatened? That’s been argued often is recent years, and the latest to claim it is Andrew Romano of the Daily Beast ( His piece, “The Romantic Comedy Is Dead,” doesn’t celebrate the genre’s apparent demise, but examines how the genre came to be on life support. He cites several reasons:

* Money: Hollywood’s search for blockbusters with international appeal — comic-book adaptations or action flicks with the customary explosions and apocalyptic soundtracks — have more or less killed the mid-budget movie, the neighborhood for most comedies not destined for the art-house circuit.

* Boys: The industry increasingly focuses on the male audience, especially those ages 18-24, as women’s options are relegated to TV. Rom-coms are derided as “chick flicks” by the multiplex crowd, and are accepted only if they’re sufficiently coarse.

* Viable actresses look elsewhere: The likes of Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey are more comfortable in television, while those whose forte is films find the going better in blockbusters — think Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” (where at least she’s the lead character) or Emma Stone (relegated to love interest in comic-book movies).

* Branding: An array of lackluster rom-coms over the past dozen years has diminished the appeal of the genre; Romano calls Matthew McConaughey the prime culprit, but poor writing and a lack of feel for the genre are equally to blame.

I still hold out hope for the genre, but it will require truly charming acting, sophisticated (but not pretentious) writing and someone with a sense of unconventional wisdom to make it work. Remember, about 30 years ago the sitcom genre was in similar doldrums — then came “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show,” followed by “Seinfeld” and “Frasier.” So hold out hope that the genre which made Carole a cinema immortal will do likewise for a star of today.

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To ‘Power’ a public(?) domain ‘From Hell To Heaven’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.06 at 21:01
Current mood: pensivepensive

Two Carole Lombard films which never have received an official DVD release are being sold in that format. One is…

…”From Hell To Heaven,” the 1933 Paramount programmer. The other is a Pathe silent from 1928…

…”Power,” which incidentally was Joan Bennett’s film debut.

The seller behind both items says these movies are in the public domain. I’m almost entirely certain of that regarding “Power,” but not so sure about “From Hell To Heaven.” Unless the rights to this film has lapsed (as was the case for a later Lombard Paramount vehicle, “Swing High, Swing Low”), it probably is property of Universal, which now holds the rights to several hundred Paramount sound titles made before 1948.

That Universal hasn’t done much with these holdings regarding video or other release (yes, there was the April 2006 release of the “Glamour Collection” for Carole, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West, but next to nothing beyond that, at least for Lombard) is irrelevant; if it belongs to Universal, “From Hell To Heaven” is a bootleg. That no cease-and-desist order apparently has come from Universal’s legal office means either

* it actually is in the public domain, or equally likely

* Universal holds the rights, but either has no plans for a video release or doesn’t have it in marketable condition yet. (We hope it’s the latter.)

“Power,” which the seller admits is in “acceptable” condition, is on sale for $19.99 at As for “From Hell To Heaven,” it’s deemed in “good” condition, is available for $15.99, and is at

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When it’s nice to be negative

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.05 at 08:07
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Yesterday, I moved into my Los Angeles apartment (well, sort of…the furniture was supposed to arrive, but never did). Since I couldn’t do very much, I walked around the floor and discovered that behind the building, someone was keeping a rooster which I heard crowing, but never saw. Of course, Carole Lombard had a rooster, too — good old Edmund — and they’re pictured here in Paramount p1202-1440.

Now, you can buy the original 8″ 10″ negative of this portrait for $149.99; to learn more, visit

Three other shots are available:

* A headshot of a smiling Carole (

* A leggy Lombard poolside portrait, complete with sombrero (

* The star modeling a long gown with a plaid jacket (

All also are being sold straight up for $149.99.

Oh, and one more thing: Rest assured I won’t be awakened every morning by a poultry alarm clock — I couldn’t hear the rooster from my apartment room. Good news once that furniture finally arrives. 


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A happy 4th of July from Carole…and classic Hollywood

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.04 at 06:20
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

As we did last July 4th (when we opened with another flag-flying photo of Carole Lombard at the Indiana state capital), let’s celebrate Independence Day, classic Hollywood style. Here are several patriotic pics from stars of the era.

Last year, we ran a shot promoting July 4 showing Thelma Todd in, of all places, the snow (on location in the Sierra Nevadas, perhaps?). This year’s image of Thelma is a bit more conventional — as she’s shown as Betsy Ross:

Madge Evans also is shown in a Revolutionary War motif:

Here’s Leila Hyams looking patriotic, and even holding two 48-star versions of Old Glory:

A year ago, we pictured a 1920s Joan Crawford atop firecrackers. This time, we imagine that era’s Joan as Lady Liberty, though she looks as if she can’t be sure she’d imagine it herself:

And this time, it’s her old MGM rival Anita Page who gets the firecracker treatment:

A happy — and above all, safe — July 4th to all.

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Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.03 at 21:57
Current mood: confusedconfused

What do Carole Lombard and Jimmy Durante (shown alongside Jack Oakie with a mustache) have in common? Both appeared in Old Gold cigarette ads in the 1930s, and are among a group of such ads up for auction at eBay.

The Lombard ad offered is horizontal rather than vertical, but has the same copy. Other stars featured include Bing Crosby, Adrienne Ames, Wallace Beery, Bert Wheeler (of Wheeler & Woolsey fame) and Virginia Bruce. Bidding opens at $9.99, and the auction closes at 10:25 p.m. (Eastern) Monday.

To bid or learn more, visit

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Come September, TCM goes pre-Code crazy

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.02 at 22:22
Current mood: bouncybouncy

Until roughly 80 years ago this week, it was fairly easy to see Carole Lombard in such a state of undress, as she is here in this scene from “No Man Of Her Own.” After that, if you sought a glimpse of the Lombard legs, you needed to hope she’d be appearing in a swimsuit…or were lucky enough to work on the set and see her in between scenes.

The strict enforcement of the industry’s Production Code — implemented after threats of boycott from church groups, notably Catholics — spelled the end to nearly half a decade of freewheeling, honest moviemaking. And in September, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will honor this period in a big way.

In recent months, TCM has run something it calls the “Friday Night Spotlight,” a monthly prime-time gallery of films based around a single theme — everything from food to Australia to pirates. Well, come September, TCM will take this concept and amplify it…to the tune of four 24-hour blocks of pre-Code cinema, 66 films in all.

“Virtue” is the only one of Carole’s movies to make the cut, as her 1932 film about a streetwalker going straight to please her cabbie husband is slated for 7:45 a.m. (Eastern) Sept. 5. But many of the other 65 are must-sees, featuring many favorites of the pre-Code era — James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Warren William, Barbara Stanwyck, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, Norma Shearer and Mae West.

See the entire schedule at And rest assured you won’t see this:

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Two musical ways to make a ‘True Confession’

Posted by vp19 on 2014.07.01 at 22:51
Current mood: exhaustedexhausted

From right to left, Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray and Una Merkel were having a riotous time in “True Confession,” which turned out to be Lombard’s last film at Paramount. It was a musical time, too, even though none of the three sang or performed in the movie.

As was the case for many studios at the time (late 1937, in this case), Paramount drew additional revenue from the sale of sheet music; a title song, for instance. Two examples of such — one from each side of the Atlantic — now are available at eBay.

Let’s start with the version issued in Great Britain:

There’s a music store stamp on it, and the seller lists it in “good+” condition. Bids begin at $35, and bidding is set to end at 8:15 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To get in on the action, go to

The other one, issued in America, looks something like this, along the lines of a cover of True Confessions magazine:

Actually, the version being offered is wrapped in cellophane. It’s said to be in very good condition, but one senses the seller isn’t well versed in film history. Witness:

* It’s listed as being from “Adolph Zucker’s 1937 movie ‘True Confession.'” (Gee, I never realized the same family that gave us “Airplane!” and “Police Squad!” handled Lombard movies, too.)

* The seller isn’t certain whether that’s John Barrymore or MacMurray in the inset with Carole. Anyone familiar with Barrymore’s condition in 1937 knows that isn’t him.

Regardless, you can buy this straight up for $5.99; visit

Posted August 27, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Entries, June 19-June 30   Leave a comment

A Cecil B. centennial

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.30 at 23:10
Current mood: happyhappy

At the bottom of this photo of Carole Lombard from the May 1929 issue of Motion Picture magazine is a reference to Cecil B. De Mille; at the time this was printed, the 20-year-old starlet had been hired by De Mille as the female lead in his latest movie, “Dynamite.” By the time this hit newsstands, the famed director had fired the relatively inexperienced actress after but a few days of production.

If Carole held a grudge, she never let on, and when she made her first appearance on “Lux Radio Theater” (a series De Mille hosted) in 1938, there was no rancor.

De Mille was among the pioneering directors in the industry — perhaps the pioneering director — and his first notable achievement will be honored tomorrow in Hollywood.

A century ago, De Mille and his business partner Jesse Lasky created the first American feature film, “The Squaw Man.” Movies had been shot in southern California for several years, but none of this length. There was plenty of space for exterior shots in this western, but for interior scenes, De Mille and Lasky found a barn at Selma and Vine streets. That barn has since been restored and moved to 2100 North Highland Avenue, several blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard, and now is home to the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

From 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 1, the museum and Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will co-host a centennial celebration. Here’s more about it:

It should be plenty of fun.

As I write this, my alma mater, the University of Maryland, is embarking on life in a new conference — the Big Ten — as it’s past midnight in the eastern time zone and is now July 1. The move from the Atlantic Coast Conference not only will help the university in sports (the Big Ten is the oldest and wealthiest of athletic conferences), but in academics through the conference’s research consortium for interlibrary loans, student travel and the like. Below are the Big Ten mascots and cheerleaders (Testudo, Maryland’s terrapin mascot, is second from left), jumping for joy in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, a few miles from the College Park campus:

What makes this particularly sweet for me is that I was among the first, if not the first, to propose such a move…and I did it way back on Feb. 1, 2010, when it not only was out-of-the-box thinking, but the box was nowhere in sight. I’m a former sports editor of the campus student paper, the Diamondback, and here’s what I wrote some 53 months ago: The move was announced in November 2012, and I’m delighted to see it come to fruition.

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A double dose of Lombard laughs in Seattle this summer

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.29 at 21:46
Current mood: amusedamused

Two Carole Lombard comedy favorites, both teaming her with Fred MacMurray, are among a six-pack of fun films to be shown this summer at the Seattle Art Museum under the title “For Laughing Out Loud.”

“Hands Across The Table” will be shown July 10, with “True Confession” set for July 24. Other films in the series include “Theodora Goes Wild” July 17, “His Girl Friday” July 30 (note that’s on a Wednesday, whereas the other movies are on Thursdays), “Too Many Husbands” on Aug. 7 and “Born Yesterday” Aug. 14. All films will run at 7:30 p.m., and there aren’t very many better ways of sharing a summer evening than by watching a sophisticated comedy from classic Hollywood.

The entire package is available for $42 for museum members, $45 for adult non-members. A limited number of $8 day-of-event tickets may be available at 7:25 p.m. for $8, cash or check only.

The Seattle Art Museum is at 1300 First Avenue. For tickets, visit, or for more information, phone 206-654-3100.

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The MGM Blogathon: ‘The Gay Bride’ (1934), plus Carole the Metro guest

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.28 at 09:39
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

For someone who starred in all of one film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Carole Lombard (shown in a portrait for said film) had quite a bit to do with the magic factory in Culver City. But before we explore that part of the topic, let’s examine that one film as part of this weekend’s MGM Blogathon from Silver Scenes (

The film was called “The Gay Bride,” and one wonders what a movie made today bearing that title might entail. (A story of human rights? A comedy about undercover lesbianism?) Whatever, the title didn’t have the same meaning in 1934 that it would have today; in fact, the project originally didn’t bear that title at all.

The film, adapted from a Charles Francis Coe short story in the Saturday Evening Post, initially was to be called “Repeal,” after the end of Prohibition in late 1933:

But as 1934 rolled on into its second half and the end of the pre-Code era, such a title lost a lot of its fizz, and so MGM instead focused on the lead character — a woman who marries mobster after mobster, collecting their insurance after each is rubbed out. The copy for a herald describes it as “Mary, Mary…mercenary! Her coat of arms was a chisel and a wedding ring.”

By 1934, Lombard (who earlier in her career had been loath to loanouts, going so far as to reject a project at Warners that became the James Cagney-Loretta Young hit “Taxi!”) enjoyed temporarily leaving her home base of Paramount — especially since Columbia not only gave her better material, but knew how to use her better than Paramount did. If Columbia, which but a few years earlier was barely a step up from Poverty Row, had such power, imagine what MGM could do? And might it even lead to mighty Metro buying her contract from struggling Paramount?

There were just two things Carole didn’t notice as she began the project with director Jack Conway and leading man Chester Morris (who’d held similar honors in the 1932 Paramount vehicle “Sinners In The Sun”). First, MGM really wasn’t welcoming Lombard as a potential new star in its stable; Jean Harlow gave it sufficient blonde star power, and despite her success in “Twentieth Century” earlier in the year, Carole still wasn’t primarily identified with comedy, much less the sophisticated kind.

Second, MGM was slumming a bit with “The Gay Bride,” the sort of tough comedy Warners could have done in its sleep in pre-Code days. (It’s easy to imagine Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell in the Lombard role, probably in a grittier milieu.) Yes, Metro’s high production values were on display, but that was true for all its features.

So as production continued, Lombard (shown with Zasu Pitts) likely came to learn, if she hadn’t already, that she was working on a programmer and little more. In addition to Pitts, the reliable Nat Pendleton provided comedic support, but at times Carole probably felt as uncomfortable as her character was in this still:

Nevertheless, the New York Times review of Dec. 19, 1934 was for the most part approving ( Despite that, “The Gay Bride” did middling business, and one doubts MGM brass gave it much of a push since its lead wasn’t one of its stars. (However, according to Film Daily in early 1935, Loew’s State in New Orleans handed out “Chiseler’s Club Cards” to patrons in honor of Carole’s gold-digging character.)

Lombard later would call “The Gay Bride” her worst film, although time has been kinder to its reputation; for the most part, it’s easier to watch than her 1938 Warners misfire, “Fools For Scandal.”

Carole never made another movie for Metro…yet she hardly was a stranger on the studio lot. The reason was obvious — her attachment to Clark Gable, the top leading man at MGM, if not the industry. Whether it be keeping him company on the set during an uncharacteristically cool June night…

…sharing a laugh at a post-premiere party…

…or attending the studio picnic given by Louis B. Mayer…

…Lombard, with Gable, was a frequent visitor to MGM. (It also helped that first husband William Powell, a friend of Clark’s, was an MGM star as well.)

So why didn’t Metro sign Carole — who’d shown her box-office prowess in the second half of the ’30s — to a contract? One guesses Mayer was reluctant to add the girlfriend (and subsequent wife) of MGM’s biggest star to its roster…especially in the midst of making “Gone With The Wind” (a David O. Selznick production distributed by Metro). As a team, Gable and Lombard might have too much clout for his liking.

But it didn’t keep Carole from dropping by the lot…

And when Lombard met her ultimate fate in January 1942, MGM saluted her with a memorial ad in the trade press.

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Actresses in support of each other

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.27 at 17:23
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

That’s Carole Lombard with Frances Drake and Josephine Hutchinson at the famous party Carole gave at the Venice pier in June 1935 ( Lombard was on friendly terms with most of her fellow actresses, going so far as to help boost their careers with studio management. It really wasn’t anything unusual for the business — that practice was true in many cases, even for those who ostensibly competed for the same parts. (A far cry from the rivalries and catfights popularly associated with actresses.)

Consider Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell at early ’30s Warners, who looked similar and had comparable skills; however, that never led to rivalry, as they instead became close friends and regularly teamed in pictures. Joan even wrote about it for a fan magazine:

This topic leads in to a fun time I had last night at Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard. The guest was Diane McBain, who had some success as a Warners contract player (in both films and on TV) in the early ’60s, then later had a part in an Elvis Presley movie (“Spinout,” and yes, Presley kissed her) and a guest part on “Batman,” among many other roles.

She’s written about her Hollywood experiences — which included working in films with Richard Burton, Claudette Colbert, Robert Stack and Joan Crawford — in a new book, “Famous Enough: A Hollywood Memoir.” (It’s such a new release that I couldn’t find a Google image for it.) After a brief compilation of film and TV clips, McBain gladly answered questions from the audience.

As was the case with Blondell three decades earlier, Warners gave McBain plenty of work, making her a semi-regular on its TV series “Surfside 6,” starring Troy Donahue, when she wasn’t making films. One of those episodes featured an up-and-coming starlet named Francine York, portraying a Eurasian. (This was when Francine had dark hair; she’s currently a blonde.) York and McBain became friends on the set, and last night, she came to Larry Edmunds to provide support (and purchase a copy, as did I).

Francine, a Facebook friend of mine who also appeared in an Elvis movie (“Tickle Me”) and guested on “Batman,” graciously gave permission to run this image of her and McBain from her FB page — and yes, you will see the book’s cover. (Francine also is working on a book about her entertainment experiences.)


York wasn’t the only actress of note on hand; so was Tippi Hedren of “The Birds” and “Marnie” fame. She and Francine posed for this picture:


I gave Francine and Diane business cards for Carole & Co. (both are admirers of Lombard), but somehow neglected to do likewise with Tippi, though she and Carole both have something in common — they were Hitchcock blondes of a sort. (To be fair, their experiences with Hitch were, shall we say, considerably different.)

All in all, it was a delightful experience with three wonderful actresses and friends through the years — one of those things that’s only available in Hollywood, yet another reason I’m glad I made this move — and although another Facebook friend of mine wasn’t there, she also made an impression.

At the bottom of the podium in front of where I was seating was a copy of a book from former radio vocalist and MGM contract player Monica Lewis, “Hollywood Through My Eyes.” So I bought it, and am looking to enjoying these recollections from Diane and Monica in upcoming days. (And Francine, once your book is out, I promise to buy it, too.)

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An update from Michelle

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.26 at 15:33
Current mood: pleasedpleased

The other day, we wrote that it appears renowned British author Michelle Morgan’s on-again, off-again book project on Carole Lombard is back on again. Since then, Michelle has messaged me and provided some information on the book’s probable parameters:

“Well, the Carole Lombard book (provisionally titled ‘Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star’) will be a full biography of her life and career. I will start with before she was born (I have lots of information to share about her father’s accident for instance) and then her whole life will be covered, up to her death and beyond.

“I have acquired many newspaper and magazine interviews; business papers; contracts; letters and much more. All of this will be used for my research, and will go towards writing what I hope will be a very worthwhile look at her life. I’m not sure what format it will be yet. That will be up to the publisher.

“My Thelma Todd book is a biography with a photo section in the middle, and the Carole book may be the same way, but that will be up to the publisher ultimately. I hope to bring you good news soon regards a publisher. I don’t have anything firm yet to share, but I promise you will know as soon as I have official news.

“Thanks again for everything!!!”

Thanks really belong to you, Michelle, for your perseverance regarding this book. If, as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, I have no doubt the finished project will be great…and that applies for both the Todd and Lombard books, given your track record. If you need any additional assistance, please let me know.

The Lombard LiveJournal header is Paramount p1202-452, featuring a smile so infectious I felt obliged to use it on my Carole & Co. business cards.

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The movie star…an endangered species?

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.25 at 07:25
Current mood: worriedworried

Even by themselves, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable radiated star power. Put them together, as shown here at the 1936 premiere of “Romeo & Juliet,” and you had a celebrity supernova.

But the days of Gable and Lombard have long passed — and a century after Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin became the first legitimate, sustaining cinema stars, so might the very concept of movie stardom, too. At least that’s the argument presented in a recent piece by one of the entertainment community’s best-known writers.

In the June 10 issue of Variety, Peter Bart says franchises and brands drive the film industry these days, not stars ( Its very title, “Movie Stars Have Become an Endangered Species,” says it all, as if the very nature of film stardom is about to go the way of the quagga or passenger pigeon.

Bart encapsulates it in his lead: “Summer blockbusters make studios happy, but they make stars nervous. That’s because a lizard is the real star of ‘Godzilla,’ not an actor. And in franchises like ‘Captain America,’ ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘X-Men,’ the superhero is the brand, while the casts seem interchangeable.”

That’s true. No actor playing a superhero today will become as identified with the role as Sean Connery (or even Roger Moore) was as James Bond, much less William Powell as Nick Charles.

And note I used the word actor, not actress — not only are few if any films about superheroines made in Hollywood (the teenage male audience that jams the multiplexes for such movies find girls “icky,” particularly powerful ones), but relatively few actresses command any clout at the box office. When they do, such success tends to be fleeting. That’s why so many of them have found refuge in television.

The result? Just as the gap between haves and have-nots is increasing, so is the cinema landscape. The summer blockbusters and the heavily marketed ilk are beginning to branch out into other parts of the year, leaving little room for “arthouse” and prestige films for awards season (but they’ll always be around, if only for corporate prestige). Medium-budget movies, what used to be Hollywood’s bread and butter, are becoming extinct, too.

Still, we can look on the bright side. Let’s see a brand get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as was the case of Kate Winslet:

Oh, wait:

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Finding the stars of her famous friends

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.24 at 21:21
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Earlier this year, we noted Carole Lombard’s star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6930 Hollywood Boulevard, in front of a Baja Fresh restaurant. But where are the stars for those who played key roles in her life as leading men, directors, supporting players, friends…even husbands?

Fortunately, a new issue of the Official Hollywood Walk of Fame brochure has just been issued, so we’ll provide some answers. (Many of these people have multiple stars; I’m listing only one for each.)

First, husbands (both of whom also were Carole leading men):

* William Powell — 1636 Vine St.
* Clark Gable — 1608 Vine St.

Other leading men of note, in semi-chronological order:

* Edmund Lowe –6363 Hollywood Blvd.
* Buck Jones — 6834 Hollywood Blvd.
* Warner Baxter — 6284 Hollywood Blvd.
* Charles “Buddy” Rogers — 6135 Hollywood Blvd.
* Frank Morgan — 6700 Hollywood Blvd.
* Gary Cooper — 6243 Hollywood Blvd.
* Paul Lukas — 6821 Hollywood Blvd.
* Pat O’Brien — 1531 Vine St.
* Jack Oakie — 6752 Hollywood Blvd.
* Randolph Scott — 6243 Hollywood Blvd.
* Fredric March — 1620 Vine St.
* George Raft — 1500 Vine St.
* Bing Crosby — 6751 Hollywood Blvd.
* John Barrymore — 6667 Hollywood Blvd.
* Fred MacMurray — 6421 Hollywood Blvd.
* James Stewart — 1708 Vine St.
* Cary Grant — 1610 Vine St.
* Brian Aherne — 1752 Vine St.
* Charles Laughton — 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
* Robert Montgomery — 6440 Hollywood Blvd.
* Jack Benny — 1505 Vine St.
* Robert Stack — 7001 Hollywood Blvd.

Creative people (directors, writers, etc.) or moguls who figured in Lombard’s life:

* Allan Dwan — 6263 Hollywood Blvd.
* Mack Sennett — 6710 Hollywood Blvd.
* Adolph Zukor — 1617 Vine St.
* Preston Sturges — 1601 Vine St.
* Wesley Ruggles — 6424 Hollywood Blvd.
* Howard Hawks — 1708 Vine St.
* Mitchell Leisen — 6241 Hollywood Blvd.
* Gregory La Cava — 6906 Hollywood Blvd.
* William Wellman — 6125 Hollywood Blvd.
* John Cromwell — 6555 Hollywood Blvd.
* George Stevens — 1709 Vine St.
* Orson Welles — 1600 Vine St.
* Alfred Hitchcock — 7013 Hollywood Blvd.
* Ernst Lubitsch — 7042 Hollywood Blvd.

Finally, some of Carole’s female cohorts as actresses, friends, etc.:

* Mary Pickford — 6280 Hollywood Blvd.
* Marion Davies — 6326 Hollywood Blvd.
* Miriam Hopkins — 1716 Vine St.
* Claudette Colbert — 6812 Hollywood Blvd.
* Kay Francis — 6766 Hollywood Blvd.
* Marlene Dietrich — 6400 Hollywood Blvd.
* Ethel Merman — 7044 Hollywood Blvd.
* Marie Prevost — 6201 Hollywood Blvd.
* Jean Harlow — 6910 Hollywood Blvd.
* Ginger Rogers — 6772 Hollywood Blvd.
* Dorothy Lamour — 6332 Hollywood Blvd.
* Una Merkel — 6262 Hollywood Blvd.
* Myrna Loy — 6685 Hollywood Blvd.
* Barbara Stanwyck — 1751 Vine St.
* Marie Wilson — 6601 Hollywood Blvd.
* Lucille Ball –6436 Hollywood Blvd.
* Anne Shirley — 7018 Hollywood Blvd.

A happy star search the next time you’re in Hollywood!

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Close to ‘booking’ good news from Michelle

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.23 at 22:12
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

Carole Lombard — with and without Clark Gable — has been the subject of several books over the years. Now, another book about her, one long awaited from one of the top entertainment authors in the business, could soon be in production.

Here’s what Michelle Morgan wrote on her Facebook page today:

“Looking towards future book projects, I have just sent the proposal for my Carole Lombard book to my agent…Now on with the writing for Thelma!”

As in Thelma Todd, the vivacious actress best known for her comedies whose death at age 30 in December 1935 remains one of filmland’s biggest unsolved mysteries. Once that book is out of the way, Morgan will get to the Lombard book, one she’s already done much research for (and probably will do much more).

I’m not quite sure what form this book will take; it may be a straight bio or a tome that primarily relies on photographs with complementary copy. (She was working a Lombard book a few years ago, but a decision to change publishers put the project on the backburner for a while. Last December, she said she’d written about 20,000 words on the Lombard book.) One thing I am certain, however, is that the finished project will be one worth reading, such is her track record.

Morgan’s Monroe book examines the ’50s icon in a much more human perspective than many biographers do, with plenty of background on what shaped her. I have faith she’ll do likewise with Lombard, assuming her proposal gets the green light — and know the wait will be worth it. Which will be “big news” for Carole fans everywhere.

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Of a vineyard and a Greenfield

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.22 at 20:50
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

For a second straight day, the subject of this entry is the 1940 Carole Lombard drama “They Knew What They Wanted” (she’s shown with William Gargan above in an image from that film, set in California wine country). This time, we’re examining a collectible on sale at eBay.

It’s a herald from the fall of 1940 issued by the Garden Theater in Greenfield, Mass.:

Greenfield is in the northern part of west-central Massachusetts, not far from Springfield, and is the Franklin County seat. Built in 1929, the Garden was refurbished (and multiplexed) in the mid-’80s. It remains open with six theaters and a combined capacity of more than 1,800 seats.

The herald measures 4″ x 8 1/2″, and can be bought straight up for $16.50, or you can make an offer. Learn more by visiting

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Films ‘They Knew What They Wanted,’ but can’t get on DVD

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.21 at 18:22
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

It’s no secret that Carole Lombard’s 1940 drama “They Knew What They Wanted,” teaming her with Charles Laughton for the second time, has never been made available on an authorized DVD in America, probably a result of rights issues with the Sidney Howard estate (Howard wrote the play, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1925).

But misery loves company, and it’s hardly the only movie that’s in DVD limbo. New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick recently wrote about it (, including brief clips of the MIA movies.

Some of the other classic-era titles that are absent from DVD — many featuring actors or directors Carole worked with — include:

* “The Crowd” (1928), King Vidor’s pioneering slice-of-life tale.

* “The Greene Murder Case” (1929), one of three early turns for William Powell as Philo Vance.

* “Once In A Lifetime” (1932), an adaptation of the Kaufman and Hart comedic play about screenwriters during Hollywood’s chaotic transition to sound.

* “Letty Lynton” (1932), which hasn’t been seen by virtually anybody since MGM withdrew it from circulation in 1935, much to the dismay of Joan Crawford fans.

* “Call Her Savage” (1932), one of Clara Bow’s final features for Fox.

* “Man’s Castle” (1933), a Loretta Young-Spencer Tracy Depression-era gem directed by Frank Borzage.

* “The Story Of Temple Drake” (1933), a steamy pre-Code adaptation of William Faulkner’s “Sanctuary,” starring Miriam Hopkins.

* “The Moon’a Our Home” (1936), starring former married couple Margaret Sullavan and Henry Fonda…which Lombard and James Stewart took the lead role for a 1940 “Lux Radio Theater” adaptation.

* “Boy Meets Girl” (1938), another comedic tale of screenwriters, starring James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, with supporting turns from Marie Wilson and Ronald Reagan.

* “The Sea Wolf” (1941), a Jack London tale starring Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield.

* “To Each His Own” (1946), for which Olivia de Havilland won a Best Actress Academy Award, directed by Mitchell Leisen. (Other films of his that are DVD MIA include “I Wanted Wings” and “Lady In The Dark.”)

* “Beau James” (1957), an atypical Bob Hope role as 1920s New York mayor Jimmy Walker.

* “Raintree County” (1957), a Civil War romantic epic starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, which apparently needs considerable restorqtion.

* And… “Dynamite” (1929), a Cecil B. De Mille film where Lombard had the female lead for a few days before being fired.

Carole shows off a ruffled dress in our latest Lombard LiveJournal header, p1202-435.

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My first day as an Angeleno

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.20 at 15:57
Current mood: busybusy

Earlier today, I became a resident of Los Angeles, though unlike Carole Lombard, I have no plans to raise poultry. I signed a lease for the apartment I had paid for a few weeks earlier — though for now, I’m staying at a hotel a few blocks away since my furniture won’t arrive for another few days.

It will give me time to take care of some of the odds and ends that accompany a move…getting a California residency card (in lieu of a driver’s license, since I’ve been unable to drive the past few years), getting a Los Angeles library card, registering to vote, etc. It will result in a considerable change in lifestyle — but I’m looking forward to it.

I first celebrated signing the lease by walking a few blocks to get a hamburger from the Original Tommy’s at Beverly and Rampart:

This site, open 24 hours a day, has been serving up burgers (most of them topped with chili) since 1946. It’s sort of the LA equivalent of Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks in South Philadelphia or Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street in Washington. In May, when I first looked at the nearby apartment, I had a burger — but ordered it plain because I was wearing a shirt and tie and had a few more apartments to see. I promised them that if I landed the apartment, I would return for a full-fledged Tommy’s burger; today, I lived up to that promise.

The second part of the celebration will come tonight, when I’ll head to Anaheim to watch the Angels face my friend Carole Sampeck’s beloved Texas Rangers. Tonight’s giveaway is a cowboy hat with the Angels logo…and no, it has nothing to do with the other team that plays in Arlington, Texas.

Gene Autry, who has five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was the first owner of the American League Angels. Autry, longtime owner of KMPC radio, had lost radio rights for the National League Dodgers to KFI after the 1960 season, but the AL had announced it would expand for 1961…and Autry attended the owners’ meeting merely hoping to get a broadcast contract. He wound up with the team.

The Angels won a few division titles under Autry’s reign and he was a favorite of players, but they were always snakebit in the postseason. Gene died in October 1998, four years before the Angels finally reached the promised land and won the World Series. (Autry also founded a museum dedicated to the history of the American West that has won plaudits for its thorough approach.)

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And so the move begins

Posted by vp19 on 2014.06.19 at 01:47
Current mood: giddygiddy

Before this day is over, I will complete my first step in becoming a resident of the city Carole Lombard called home for more than 27 years. First by train, then by plane (two flights, to be precise), I will leave Virginia for Los Angeles. By the next time I return east to clear out my old apartment, I will have settled in a new one in the City of the Angels.

To say I’m thrilled would be a massive understatement. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years, but now the time is right to uproot my East Coast heritage and begin living on Pacific time.

Day or night, Los Angeles casts its seductive spell. Yes, there’s plenty to see for classic film buffs — and I plan to use the myriad of resources — but I also know LA is far more than this. It’s a multi-faceted city, America’s economic link to the new wealth that is the Pacific Rim, and its hard-working citizens belie the “Tinseltown” stereotype.

I’m also arriving less than a week after the Kings won their second Stanley Cup in three years…and just after another fine LA athlete sort of extended his own greeting. Ace Dodger lefthander Clayton Kershaw fired his first no-hitter in beating Colorado 8-0, striking out a career-high 15 without allowing a walk (one batter reached base on a throwing error). Vin Scully has called numerous no-hitters (and a few perfect games) during his 65 years in the broadcast booth, but missed Josh Beckett’s no-no in Philadelphia last month (at 85, Scully rarely goes on the road aside from games at San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix), but he was behind the mike for this one. For some reason, I can’t embed this, but go to and you should be able to find Scully’s highlights, as well as the final out and subsequent celebration at Dodger Stadium.

This evokes memories of what may be Scully’s best-remembered regular-season call, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game against Chicago in the midst of a pennant race in September 1965. The game wasn’t televised in LA, but Scully’s radio play-by-play is justifiably legendary. You can hear the ninth inning in a variety of audio formats at

Posted August 27, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized