Archive for September 2015

‘Trailblazing Women’: TCM honors females behind the camera   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.30 at 16:23

Current mood: excitedexcited

Above is the only time I know that Carole Lombard ever directed — when she helmed Alfred Hitchcock’s customary cameo for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” And in case you don’t believe that’s her, here she is guiding Hitch through his paces:

To be fair, had Lombard lived past 1942, she probably wouldn’t have pursued a career as a director (producing movies was her apparent goal; she was de facto producer of “Smith,” and helped put up money for both that and her final film, “To Be Or Not To Be”), but what’s interesting is that none of Carole’s several dozen movies — from “A Perfect Crime” in 1921 until the end — was directed by a woman. I’m certain that also could be said for many other notable actors of either gender.

But women have a significant, albeit overlooked, history behind the camera, and Turner Classic Movies will examine their contributions in October through the series “Traiblazing Women.” On Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout October (beginning tomorrow), 54 films from 47 female directors will be shown. The event’s partner is Women in Film/Los Angeles (, a group pursuing greater opportunities for women as directors, cinematographers and other fields in movies, television and other media.

Illeana Douglas, who frequently appears on TCM, will host the event, while author and film historian Cari Beauchamp will be among the guests and will co-host the first two nights:

Each night has a theme:

* Thursday, Oct. 1 — The work of the pioneering women of the silent era, such as Alice Guy-Blache, Lois Weber and Frances Marion, will be examined.
* Tuesday, Oct. 6 — Women somewhat diminished as directors during the sound era, but several managed to make some gems, including Dorothy Arzner (“Dance, Girl, Dance”), Ida Lupino (“Outrage”) and Elaine May (the original 1972 “The Heartbreak Kid”).
* Thursday, Oct. 8 — “Independent Classics” looks at films made outside the studio system in the 1970s and ’80s, among them Claudia Weill’s “Girlfriends” (1978) and Martha Coolidge’s “Valley Girl” (1983). Allison Anders is co-host, and her 1987 film “Border Radio” will be shown.
* Tuesday, Oct. 13 — Amy Heckerling, whose 1982 comedy “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (with Facebook friend Kelli Maroney in the cast) I saw and enjoyed last Friday at a WIF-sponsored event, is co-host, and her 1989 “Look Who’s Talking” will be featured. So will another ’80s gem, “Crossing Delancey,” directed by Joan Micklin Silver.
* Thursday, Oct. 15 — Notable documentaries directed by women will air, including Barbara Kopple’s “Harlan County U.S.A.” (1976) and Connie Field’s “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter” (1980). Field also will co-host.

* Tuesday, Oct. 20 — Women enjoyed box-office directorial success in the 1990s, with hits such as “A League of Their Own” (Penny Marshall), “Sleepless in Seattle” (Nora Ephron) and “The Prince of Tides” (Barbra Streisand). Heckerling returns to co-host.
* Thursday, Oct. 22 — Black women were among notable independent directors of the past few decades, including Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” (1991), Leslie Harris’ “Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.” (1992) and Ava Duvernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” (2012). Duvernay, as many of you know, directed “Selma” in 2014.
* Tuesday, Oct. 27 — Beauchamp is back to co-host “International Breakthroughs,” which features Agnes Varda’s “Cleo From 5 to 7” (1962), Mira Nair’s “Salaam Bombay!” (1988) and Lina Wertmuller’s “Love and Anarchy” (1973).
* Thursday, Oct. 29 — Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2008), which made her the first woman to win an Academy Award as best director, is the highlight of this final evening, but there’s also Sarah Polley’s 2006 examination of Alzheimer’s, “Away From Her” and Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut, “The Virgin Suicides” (1999). Dash co-hosts.

This promises to be a fascinating month celebrating women’s work behind the camera, a tradition that continues with the likes of Duvernay and Elizabeth Banks (“Pitch Perfect 2” and the recently-announced “Pitch Perfect 3”). For the complete schedule, visit

Posted September 30, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Product placement, 1931: An ‘Advertise’-ing controversy   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.29 at 18:36

Current mood: amusedamused

“It Pays to Advertise,” Carole Lombard’s third film for Paramount and the first of several the studio released in 1931, isn’t all that well-recalled today; it’s never received an official video release (though it can be found on YouTube), is rarely revived at repertory houses and perhaps is better known for the presence of late 1920s star Louise Brooks, who appears in a scene at the start of the film, never returns to the screen and in fact may never have met Lombard (

But Brooks’ presence, and a society dedicated to researching the star of “Pandora’s Box,” has provided a new take on how “It Pays to Advertise” evoked controversy back in the day — not over Louise, not over Carole (certainly not over Norman Foster or Skeets Gallagher), but over something that caused quite a ruckus in the ’80s and ’90s:

Product placement.

“It Pays to Advertise” was derived from a 1914 stage play of that name, and in adapting it for the movies — with a story about rival soap companies and their ad agencies — Paramount chose to use some current advertising slogans of real-life products. That drew the ire of the trade journal Harrison’s Reports, according to the first of a three-part series on the film at

According to its editor, P.S. Harrison, “The Paramount picture, ‘It Pays to Advertise,’ is nothing but a billboard of immense size. I have not been able to count all of the nationally advertised articles that are spoken of by the characters.” In the next issue, Harrison stated “In last week’s issue the disclosure was made that in ‘It Pays to Advertise’ there are more than fifteen advertisements in addition to the main advertisement, ’13 Soap Unlucky for Dirt,’ which Paramount is accused of having created as a brand for the purpose of selling it.”

Many newspapers agreed with Harrison and endorsed the anti-ad campaign, including four New York dailies, the Gannett chain and many small-town papers, as well as the Denver Post, Detroit Free Press, St. Louis Globe-Democrat and Tulsa Tribune. (Perhaps it wasn’t merely cinematic aesthetics; at the time, many newspapers — fearful radio advertising would cut into print revenue — didn’t want to face a foe from another medium.)

Controversy didn’t advertise “Advertise” at the box office — indeed, one Los Angeles theater reported business “set a new low.”

The second part of the Brooks Society’s series reprints an editorial on the topic from a Medford, Ore., newspaper (, while the third part features a newspaper column from March 19, 1931 describing audience reaction to advertising products within movies (; I’m not certain what city this newspaper is from, but local chains mentioned include the Lord & Taylor department store and Publix supermarkets. (We thank Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society for letting us link to these items — and no, he doesn’t know whether Lombard and Louise ever met, either.)

Finally, from the “life imitates art” department, while we don’t know whether a brand of soap called “13” actually was marketed in 1931, several years ago a British firm called LUSH briefly made a soap by that name, which the company said was inspired by the film. Here were its ingredients, and how it was promoted on its website:

Ingredients: Oregano and Rose Petal Infusion (Origanum vulgare and Rosa centifolia), Propylene Glycol, Rapeseed Oil & Sunflower Oil & Coconut Oil (Brassica napus, Helianthus annuus, Cocos nucifera), Water (Aqua), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Honey, Perfume, Sodum Hydroxide, Manuka Honey, Sodium Stearate, Oregano Oil (Origanum vulgare), Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena), Geranium Oil (Pelargonium graveolens), Sodium Chloride, Geraniol, *Limonene, Colour 18050.

Lush Times: Our beautiful rose and oregano soap gets its name from a 1931 Hollywood film about a soap company; the son advertised a soap that didn’t exist and demand was so high, the dad had to make it. Sounds like typical Lush, except for the advertising part. Sue from Chelmsford and Dawn from Cambridge had been asked by nurses for an oregano soap because they’d heard that oregano kills MRSA bacteria. (University of the West of England 2008.) This lovely soap has been like gold dust; we adore its translucent loveliness, its scent and its very effective cleansing properties.

Hey guys, next time try creating a soap inspired by “Casablanca,” “Gone With the Wind” or even “Citizen Kane” (the scent of rosebuds, of course).

Posted September 29, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Moore classic titles from Maltin tonight   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.28 at 01:30

Current mood: excitedexcited

“True Confession” is one of those Carole Lombard films that inspires both love and loathing. Perhaps the best-known member of the latter camp is someone who’s otherwise a fan of Carole’s — in fact, four decades ago, he wrote a paperback book about her…

…none other than esteemed movie critic, historian and author Leonard Maltin, shown here with Shirley MacLaine at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival:

Maltin gave “True Confession” a paltry 1 1/2 stars on his four-star scale, right down there with “Fools For Scandal” (my personal choice as her worst feature) among Lombard titles.

This week, Maltin is releasing the third edition of his Classic Movie Guide (for the book, “classic” is defined as going up to 1965, a reasonable cut-off point for me).

As you can see, the book now has the TCM imprimatur. But if the most recent movie listed is half a century old, you may ask, what’s the big deal? Well, Maltin has added some titles to this edition, and several of them will air on the channel tonight, leading off at 8 p.m. (Eastern) with a TCM premiere of a film that couldn’t have been in his two earlier editions, because it was only recently found and restored…

…Colleen Moore in “Why Be Good?” (This was an ad that ran in Picture Play when the film was released in 1929.)

I caught “Why Be Good?” when it had a showing sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences slightly more than a year ago ( and I was enthralled by Moore’s vivacity; she was the quintessential flapper. (I’m also writing romantic comedy screenplays, and in her honor I’ve named one of my leading ladies Colleen.) This is a silent with a synchronized soundtrack featuring some of the era’s top (white) jazz musicians. Neil Hamilton, a popular leading man of his day, plays the stuffy, upscale male lead.

This movie is a lot of fun, one I definitely recommend, and it inspires hope that other Moore titles feared lost — notably her breakthrough film, “Flaming Youth” — someday will be found. (Another, “Synthetic Sin,” has also recently been restored.) Learn more about it at|1104917&name=Why-Be-Good-.

Several other films heretofore not listed by Maltin’s books will be shown — although I recall one of the titles, 1931’s “Five and Ten” with Marion Davies and Leslie Howard, aired on a Philadelphia UHF station overnight in the late 1980s. (Yes, kiddies, as recently as the 1980s over-the-air channels used to run old movies…part of something called the late, late show.) Anyhow, here’s the rest of the schedule (all times Eastern):

* 9:45 p.m. — “Among the Missing” (1934). Not much in the way of star power, this Columbia programmer makes use of nighttime filming at outdoor Los Angeles locations, rare for a 1930s film.

* 11 p.m. — “Stolen Identity” (1953). A noir thriller filmed in Austria starring Francis Lederer.

* 12:30 a.m. — “Five and Ten” (1931). An atypical film for Davies, this drama could have starred newcomer Clark Gable, but Marion insisted on Howard instead. (Don’t feel bad for Clark; he would later twice work with Davies.) Hardly a classic, but it’s engaging.

* 2:15 a.m. — “A Very Honorable Guy” (1934). This Joe E. Brown farce, adapted from a Damon Runyon story co-stars Alice White and Allan Dinehart (“Supernatural”), is about a man who decides to get himself knocked off by a hitman…then changes his mind.

* 3:30 a.m. — “Three Faces East” (1930). Imagine teaming Erich von Stroheim and Constance Bennett in a spy drama (each tried to forget this once filming ended). Well, imagine no longer in this remake of a 1926 silent.

* 4:45 a.m. — “Reducing” (1931). This comedy about a Manhattan weight-loss parlor stars Marie Dressler (who’s always fun to watch) and Polly Moran, while Anita Page and Sally Eilers each have supporting roles.

More comments from Maltin himself can be found at And according to Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, some of the ratings in this edition of the book differ from their predecessors ( Whether or not that’s good news for “True Confession” remains to be seen.

Posted September 28, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A little portrait magic   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.27 at 18:49

Current mood: impressedimpressed

As part of my Carole Lombard research for this blog, I peruse plenty of portraits of the lady, some of which I think I’ve seen before (but, since there’s no Paramount p1202 or other studio tag, I can’t completely confirm that I have). However, I’m nearly 100 percent certain I’ve never seen the pic above before, because I would’ve remembered it — arms folded, glamorous, as if she were auditioning for a mid-thirties version of “I Dream of Jeannie.” (I would bet Barbara Eden, a terrific comedic actress beyond that one iconic role, was a Lombard fan in her youth.)

It’s one of three portraits of Carole that caught my eye today; here are the two others. First, this pic from 1938:

Then, this sepia-toned image:

All are 8″ x 10″ reprints available for $14.95 each. For the one with arms folded, go to The 1938 portrait is at And for the sepia shot, visit

In all, the seller has 92 Lombard photos available as of this writing, most of them photos selling for $14.95. Check his wares at

Posted September 27, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Standing’ for a Hollywood Pattern   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.26 at 21:49

Current mood: artisticartistic

In the past, we’ve frequently discussed Hollywood Pattern, a division of Conde Nast which published dress patterns identified with Carole Lombard and other film stars in the 1930s. Now, another fascinating artifact of the company has come up for auction at eBay.

It’s a standee, measuring 14″ x 22″, showing Lombard and Paramount stablemate Claudette Colbert “next to drawings of patterns you can buy that are inspired by their fashion sense,” as the seller puts it. I’m guessing it was sent to stores and placed in their fabric section. It’s said to be “in good condition with one of the gloves on the drawing missing a piece of the paper and there is some surface dirt. Upper corners are bent but intact.”

Bidding opens at $19.99, with the auction scheduled to end at 11:18 a.m. (Eastern) Friday. If you’re interested in this relative rarity in Lombardiana, find out more by visiting

It also turns out that two versions of one Hollywood Pattern (#1307) are being auctioned, although the size 20 has an opening bid of $32, and the size 14 starts at $38. Both auctions end at 2:20 p.m. (Eastern) Oct. 5.

For the size 20, go to For the size 14, visit

Posted September 26, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A look at Profiles in History Hollywood Auction 74, days 2 and 3   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.25 at 15:30

Current mood: amusedamused

This photo from John Miehle has caused all sorts of controversy among Carole Lombard fans. It’s one of a group of items that’s part of an auction to be held next week by Profiles in History ( — but is it her?

That platinum blonde hair makes the subject look an awful lot like Jean Harlow…but Harlow experts say it isn’t Jean, given the shape of the nose in profile. Lombard was photographed by Miehle in the late ’30s, but her hair was at its blondest in the early ’30s. As of now, I’m tempted to believe it is Lombard, though I still can’t figure out all the particulars.

For now, let’s set that issue aside and look at items from the second and third days of the auction (Wednesday, Sept. 30 and Thursday, Oct. 1, respectively).

This is a continuity script for arguably Carole’s most famous film, “My Man Godfrey.” Profiles in History describes it as “Vintage studio bound and top-bradded 100+ page dialog continuity script written by Morrie Ryskind and Eric Hatch based on Hatch’s novel of the same title. Undated. No covers. With edge and corner wear and some loose pages. Some staining and waviness to pages. Content remains complete and in fair to good condition.”

The starting bid is $400. Get additional information at (The “Carole Lombard version” is there so no one would confuse it with the 1957 “Godfrey,” where June Allyson unsuccessfully tries to step into Carole’s shoes. Not the anyone would mistake the original classic for the pointless remake.)

The only day 3 item is a lobby card from “Sinners in the Sun”:

It’s described as “Vintage 11 x 14 in. lobby card with exceptional Pre-code pose by Carole Lombard. Just a trace of marginal toning, otherwise vintage very fine condition.”

Bidding opens at $300; find out more at

Posted September 25, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A look at Profiles in History Hollywood Auction 74, day 1   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.24 at 22:22

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Yep, that’s the familiar image of Carole Lombard holding a farm animal — but what makes this photo special is that it’s autographed by Carole. The inscription: “More power to you Delores in your clever make-up, love Carole.”

This 10 1/4″ x 13 1/4″ pic, from lot 444 and with a starting bid of $400, is but one of the goodies in Profiles in History’s upcoming Hollywood Auction 74, an event to be spread over three days. This entry concerns Lombard-related items from day 1, next Tuesday. Get a link to it at

For me, two of the highlights are a pair of William E. Thomas portraits. Thomas worked at Pathe in the late 1920s and was perhaps the first photographer to capitalize on Lombard’s looks; his photos of her ranged from racy to sublime. These definitely fit into the latter category — lot 107…

…and lot 108, a second “turban” image of Carole:

Starting bids on each are $300, as is this sultry shot by Robert Coburn, perhaps from Lombard’s final photo session on Dec. 31, 1941:

This oversize (10 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ glossy doubleweight of Carole is from Otto Dyar, and its bidding begins at $600:

More Lombard glamour is here, and its minimum bid is a mere $200:

This pic is causing some controversy in the Carole community — is it her? It’s said to be from John Miehle, who worked with her at RKO in 1939 and 1940. But the hair shade is far too light to be the Lombard of those years, and I don’t recall ever seeing Carole in a white sailor suit. Miehle worked for RKO in the early 1930s when Jean Harlow made a film or two there, so it might be her; I simply don’t know. What do you think?

To see some of the other items being offered, go to

Posted September 25, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Oh, ‘To Be’ on the set   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.23 at 14:41

Current mood: curiouscurious

There are numerous stills of Carole Lombard from her final film, “To Be Or Not To Be,” but few have the story of this one. It shows Carole speaking to actors Charles Halton and Lionel Atwill during production. The person in the foreground behind Lombard is the seller’s father, who worked on the crew of this Ernst Lubitsch classic and occasionally played bit parts. The back is stamped “Photograph by [Robert] Coburn,” who would shoot Carole’s final photo session on New Year’s Eve 1941.

This 9.5″ x 7.5″ photo is in very good condition, and certainly ranks as a rarity for collectors of Lombardiana.

You can buy the photo for $25, or make an offer. Find out more by visiting

Posted September 23, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

The ‘Devil’ in the details   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.22 at 10:47

Current mood: annoyedannoyed

“Up Pops the Devil” is one of those early Paramount Carole Lombard films that tend to get lost in the shuffle. Among a slew of her movies the studio released in the first half of 1931, it’s rarely seen or revived, and sometimes is confused with another early ’31 Lombard release, “It Pays to Advertise,” because it also co-stars Norman Foster (shown above) and Skeets Gallagher.

Sad to say, I’ve yet to see “Up Pops the Devil,” so I can’t make any claims for it one way or the other. However, I can lead you to three 8″ x 10″ original stills from the film. All are ersatz lobby cards in that they are illustrated with a line of dialogue, photos meant to be posted in the lobby or outside the theater to help promote the movie. Each is being sold for $20.

First, a publisher tells Foster’s character he’s not interested in buying his novel, so forget about becoming the next Theodore Dreiser. (That year, Paramount adapted Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy” to the screen, a version he publicly despised and disowned.) To purchase, go to×10-still-1931-UP-POPS-THE-DEVIL/291570268109?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131017132637%26meid%3Db8033fd0631e4a97bb7c609f2b2dc0f0%26pid%3D100033%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D301747319783.

Next, Lombard (at left) looks stylish by 1931 standards. Interested? Visit×10-still-1931-UP-POPS-THE-DEVIL-vintage-fashion-/291570264759?hash=item43e2f12ab7.

Finally, Carole’s character gets bad news from deliveryman Willie Best (then still tagged with the demeaning, racist pseudonym “Sleep ‘N Eat”). Find it at×10-still-1931-UP-POPS-THE-DEVIL-profile-/301747319783?hash=item46418ab3e7.

Posted September 22, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Doubling your negative pleasure — can you ‘bear’ it?   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.21 at 21:54

Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

I know this is Paramount p1202-652, but who are the men flanking Carole Lombard? That may be George Raft she’s looking away from — this was taken at about the time “Bolero” was released — but is she looking at Ray Milland, who had a supporting role in the film? I can’t answer one way or the other, because this is taken from an original Paramount negative, one of three from an upcoming Hyee auction on Sept. 30. Here are the other two.

First, p1202-732, a pic we’ve run before, but without any kind of coding. It’s from “We’re Not Dressing,” her 1934 teaming with Bing Crosby:

Charming pic with a bear, you might think to yourself — but there’s another part of the story that largely was suppressed at the time. In Milland’s autobiography, “Wide-Eyed In Babylon” (Milland also had a supporting role in this film), he wrote the trainer of the bear, named Droopy, told cast and crew that any females whose time of the month it was should not report to the set that day, because Droopy would be hormonally affected. Alas, one female disobeyed instructions, and the trainer was severely injured and later died.

Thankfully, p1202-736 has a more benevolent story behind it, as Carole pays homage to Lillian and Dorothy Gish by using camera trickery to duplicate herself in this tribute to the sisters’ 1922 silent classic, “Orphans of the Storm”:

Bidding begins at 99 cents for all three negatives, and as of this writing one bid on each has been made. All are from Irving Klaw’s Movie Star News collection. (Klaw was the photographer who helped make Bettie Page a pinup legend.) The auctions close between 11:39 and 11:41 p.m. (Eastern) Sept. 30.

For p1202-652, go to

For p1202-732, visit

For p1202-736, check out

Posted September 21, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized