Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.31 at 00:39
Current mood: frustrated
“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).
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Twentieth-Century-NEW-Columbia-DVD-John-Barrymore-Carole-Lombard-/251632283321?pt=US_DVD_HD_DVD_Blu_ray&hash=item3a9673eeb9.
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Twentieth-Century-DVD-1934-John-Barrymore-Carole-Lombard-Howard-Hawks-OOP-/301124470792.
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.”)
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.30 at 00:54
Current mood: scared
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, visithttp://filmstudies.emory.edu/home/events/index.html. Carole will get you in the mood for Halloween a month early.
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:
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1930S-ART-DECO-GLAMOUR-PORTRAIT-PHOTOGRAPH-HOLLYWOOD-REGENCY-/231311707185?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item35db408c31.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.28 at 15:29
Current mood: morose
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.
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.
(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…
…while the seller is providing a certificate of authenticity:
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/CLARK-GABLE-SIGNED-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ESTATE-DOCUMENT-LEONARD-HOFFMAN-FURS-COA-1942-/111447843064?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19f2cf20f8.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.27 at 21:15
Current mood: uncomfortable
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:
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.
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” (http://insideuniversal.net/2014/08/historic-stage-28-set-to-close/), 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 (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/save-phantom-opera-stage-28-destruction-and-make-it-national-historic-landmark/cpb54DWS). 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:
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.
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 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/169187.html). 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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-Jimmy-Stewart-1939-Made-for-Each-Other-Set-8×10-rare-photo-/261572607134?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item3ce6f13c9e.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.25 at 14:40
Current mood: ecstatic
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.
The film: “Why Be Good?”, her final silent, released in February 1929.
“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.
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.
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 http://www.lacma.org/event/why-be-good. (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:
This discovery leads to hope that someday, Moore’s breakout film, “Flaming Youth,” will be unearthed.
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.
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, visithttp://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROL-LOMBARD-WILLIAM-POWELL-WILLIAM-A-WELLMAN-in-Nothing-Sacred-1937-/151391947084?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item233fa9c94c.
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/1930S-CAROLE-LOMBARD-VINTAGE-ORIGINAL-LINEN-BACKED-PHOTO/151391098329?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D24901%26meid%3Dc3efe1e6a0a1472bb6467f070a29ce3b%26pid%3D100033%.
The other two are from the same seller, but each sell for $149.99. First is this early Paramount image, p1202-52:
Want to add it to your collection? Then go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/1930S-CAROLE-LOMBARD-VINTAGE-ORIGINAL-PHOTO/161399605666?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D24901%26meid%3Dd716d5a7d0304c5ebd2bb41e57b3538b%26pid%3D100033%26prg%3D10502%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D151391098329.
Finally, there’s this image from Columbia, which means it was issued between 1932 and 1934:
If you’re interested in this 8″ x 10″, then visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/1930S-CAROLE-LOMBARD-VINTAGE-ORIGINAL-PHOTO/151387505021?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D24901%26meid%3D585639ad8ffc4a6fa42ea5bfed10402b%26pid%3D100033%26prg%3D10502%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D161399605666.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.22 at 10:06
Current mood: happy
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:
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 (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/million-dollar-arm-producer-snaps-726721).
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 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/447723.html), and since Martin’s been a longtime reader (and backer), of Carole & Co., I couldn’t be happier for him.
Please also check out his site, http://www.martinturnbull.com/. 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.
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:
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 visitinghttp://www.ebay.com/itm/ORIGINAL-PUBLICITY-PHOTO-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CHESTER-MORRIS-1934-THE-GAY-BRIDE-/321497597261?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4adac0054d.
In 1940, Carole Lombard provided public encouragement to a young Elizabeth Montgomery regarding a future entertainment career (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/529450.html). 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 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/234802.html, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/439497.html), but this marks the first time I’ll be able to attend. Its home base is the famed Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
No Lombard films are among the 33 features on this year’s schedule (http://www.cinecon.org/cinecon_schedule.html), 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.)
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 http://www.cinecon.org/cinecon_home.html.
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.
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.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.18 at 23:19
Current mood: enthralled
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:
Let’s isolate that paragraph about Lombard on the second page:
(“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):
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?)
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.
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.
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 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/705489.html).
* 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.
* 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
* 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.
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 http://summer.tcm.com/day-18.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.16 at 21:52
Current mood: amused
“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:
We wrote about this nearly a year ago (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/629995.html), and the magazine has surfaced on eBay, with Tala Birell on the cover:
Most of us know that Carole was a Howard Hawks heroine, but how many know that Joan Crawford was one, too?
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHADOPLAY-1933-Tala-Birell-cover-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Walt-Disney-KATHARINE-HEPBURN-/400758729131?pt=Magazines&hash=item5d4f14e9ab.
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.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.15 at 15:36
Current mood: productive
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.
Hokum, to be sure — but this story includes two Lombard-Powell images I’ve never seen before. I’m particularly fascinated by this one:
If “Fifty Shades Of Grey” had been issued in 1932, might this marriage have been saved?
Another pic is more conventional, but nonetheless intriguing:
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”:
There’s a story about Carole’s famed star-sapphire ring being briefly lost, then found:
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?
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:
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:
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”:
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.
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 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/614074.html). Now, a slightly different press kit is up for sale at eBay.
Both versions share the same cover…
…but what’s inside this version is somewhat different:
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-Original-Press-Kit-Press-Release-1936-/141376502489?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20eab23ad9.
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.
“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:
The other five pics have initial bids of $15:
As for the lobby cards, bidding begins at $100 for both:
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 http://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_odkw=&item=281411443646&_osacat=0&_ssn=mangiamo&_from=R40&_trksid=p2046732.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xfools+for+scandal&_nkw=fools+for+scandal&_sacat=0.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.12 at 22:11
Current mood: contemplative
It’s summer 1932, and Carole Lombard is making movies, attending the Olympics at the Memorial Coliseum (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/437978.html)…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:
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…
…and Paramount’s Maurice Chevalier:
For this story, Variety grouped stars by studios. Here’s the entire story, isolated from the rest of the page:
Let’s look at Paramount, Lombard’s studio at the time:
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.
Posted by vp19 on 2014.08.11 at 23:10
Current mood: melancholy
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 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/669831.html, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/670217.html), 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:
Can’t read it well? Here are the top and bottom halves:
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:
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:
So now that you have a possible idea of the car, here’s the rest of the document:
The seller also furnished a certificate of authenticity:
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 http://www.ebay.com/itm/CLARK-GABLE-SIGNED-AUTO-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ESTATE-DOCUMENT-ROLLS-ROYCE-W-COA-1942/151379655481?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D24901%26meid%3D8972797335102208668%26pid%3D100033%26prg%3D10502%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D151379655481.
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.
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):
* 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
* 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). * * *
* 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
* 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
* 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. * * * * *
* 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
* 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
* 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.
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. * * *
* 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
* 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
* 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!) * * * *
* 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 http://summer.tcm.com/day-9/.
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.)
Can’t read it? Here’s the section in question, with Lombard mentioned near the end:
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”:
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:
And another western in which Carole was in the cast, “Durand Of The Badlands,” was summarized in the December Photoplay:
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?