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Excelsior! Set sail with Carole and Coop   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.07.03 at 12:34

Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

When Carole Lombard posed for some nautical portraits for Paramount in 1933, studio stablemate Gary Cooper came along as a special guest star of sorts, and they posed for this on-board shot. Now another image from that seaside session has surfaced, one that was used in an Italian magazine:

Carole and Coop graced the back cover of the Aug. 2, 1933 issue of Excelsior. The front belonged to an unidentified model also enjoying life at the shore:

Finally, here’s one of the inside pages:

You can buy this 16-page magazine for $10. Learn more at

Posted July 3, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Fireball,’ the film: Cast your Clark and Carole   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.07.02 at 21:59

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Earlier today, Brian Lee Anderson at the “Carole Lombard !!!” Facebook fan page brought up this topic, one I thought worth discussing here:

“I got asked today what actors I hope portray Carole and Clark in the film version of ‘Fireball’ … I said Jennifer Garner and Henry Cavill. Fun question…. Who would you like to see?”

That is a toughie. I’m not sure whether Robert Matzen, author of the book, has publicly said whom he’d wish to cast (which from his perspective is just as well; why alienate someone who might be interested in purchasing the movie rights?). Fortunately, the rest of us don’t have to worry about that, so we can deposit our two cents.

Here are the candidates mentioned so far (9:45 p.m. Pacific), in order of their being named:

Carole Lombard: Jennifer Garner, Melissa Joan Hart, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively, Kristin Chenoweth, Charlize Theron, Christina Applegate, Carey Mulligan, Amber Valletta.

Clark Gable: Henry Cavill, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Pratt, Hugh Jackman, George Clooney, Brad Pitt.

In a way, it makes you appreciate the difficulty Universal had in casting the leads for the 1976 biopic “Gable and Lombard.” Jill Clayburgh won the Carole role (selected over, among others, Candice Bergen), and James Brolin was cast as Clark after several stars of the time, fearing it was self-defeating to challenge Gable’s ghost. Both Clayburgh and Brolin gave it their all, but what ultimately doomed the film was a script that played fast and loose with history and never gave the impression that it fully understood these people.

So, whom would you cast as Clark and Carole? One, or both, from the lists mentioned above, or other candidates? You can answer here, or you can go to the Facebook thread, Either way, let’s hear from you.

Posted July 3, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Horsing around at Hollywood Park   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.07.01 at 21:38

Current mood: pensivepensive

Carole Lombard loved horses nearly as much as she loved making movies, as this photo from the spring of 1939 makes evident. It was taken at Hollywood Park in Inglewood; we know that from the back:

Let’s isolate and clarify the snipe so we can read it; since this is an RKO press release, the snipe was typed on the studio publicity department’s rather unique typewriter:

More information: This happened during shooting for her film “In Name Only” (at the time when its working title was “Memory of Love”). The horse posing with Carole is Valley Lass, part of a stable owned by the movie’s director, John Cromwell. (By now, Lombard herself could’ve been a Valley lass, if she and new husband Clark Gable had finally been able to move into the Encino ranch they had purchased.)

We know Clark and Carole regularly played the horses at the Santa Anita track in Arcadia, but it’s entirely possible they visited Hollywood Park a few times, too. A few weeks ago, Hollywood Park, racetrack version, itself faded into history when the grandstand was razed. A massive development is set for the site, blending housing, retail, an amphitheater and, most important for Angelenos, a football stadium that likely will host a National Football League team when the project is completed. (Since St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is developing the property, his franchise is expected to return to southern California. The Los Angeles Rams played at the Coliseum after moving from Cleveland in 1946 and stayed there through 1979; the team then spent 15 years sharing Anaheim Stadium with baseball’s Angels before moving east.) We’ll see what happens with that — one or both of two other franchises, the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, are eyeing a site in Carson, a few miles south of Inglewood, if one or both teams can’t work out a deal for a new stadium in their respective markets.

But let’s get back to this rare photograph, an 8″ x 10″ the seller says is in very good condition (“there are some minor creases at the top edge and the corners”). Bidding begins at $15, with the auction set to end at 11:06 p.m. (Eastern) next Wendesday. If you’d like to ride home a winner with this one or simply are curious, check out

Posted July 1, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Backless — and peerless   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.06.30 at 15:25

Current mood: restlessrestless

How’d you like some early ’30s Carole Lombard glamour? Thanks to Otto Dyar, we have a splendid example…and it can be yours.

The above shot, showing lots of bareback from Carole, is up for auction at eBay. We even know the specifics, because the snipe and other information are on back:

According to the seller, this 8″ x 10″ is in “Very good condition with a 1″ loss to the top right corner, pinholes in the corners, corner/edge wear, and general storage/handling wear.” As of this writing, five bids have been made, topping at $26. Bidding ends at 10:23 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday.

If you’d like to try your hand at securing this photo, then make your bid at

Posted June 30, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole and Clara go collegiate (old-school)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.06.29 at 16:34

Current mood: amusedamused

Some Carole Lombard news worth cheering about…if you still own a VHS player. That’s because a videocassette of two silent campus comedies from the 1920s, starring the legendary Lombard and the earlier icon Clara Bow, now is available via eBay.

The Bow film is 1925’s “The Plastic Age,” which some claim features Lombard as an extra. I’ve never been able to confirm that, but it’s well-known that future second husband Clark Gable has a small part, some half a dozen years before he returned to Hollywood and gained genuine stardom. This still provides proof:

Bow is her usual vivacious self, playing a college flapper torn between two athletes. And of course in “Run, Girl, Run,” Lombard herself plays an athlete in the midst of Mack Sennett hijinks.

The tape is a former rental which according to the seller “plays great,” and can be yours for $9.99. If interested, visit

Posted June 29, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

The ‘Power’ to get ‘From Hell to Heaven’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.06.28 at 20:00

Current mood: curiouscurious

Two relatively obscure Carole Lombard films that have not yet secured an official DVD release now are available for purchase online.

The photo on top shows Lombard with William Boyd in a scene from the 1928 Pathe silent “Power,” a film that co-stars Alan Hale Sr. and marked the movie debut of Joan Bennett.

“Power” probably is in the public domain (her three Pathe talkies have that status), and it’s likely that this was derived from a 16mm print of uncertain quality. It should also be noted that Lombard’s part is a rather small one. Nevertheless, there are some Carole completists who will want this for their collection.

The DVD sells for $19.99, and it can be yours by going to

The status of the other film being offered, from the same seller, is more problematic.

“From Hell to Heaven,” released in early 1933 with Lombard as top-billed (that’s Jack Oakie with Carole), was a Paramount offering when it hit theaters, but was it part of the pre-1948 package the studio later sold to MCA, which then gave the rights to Universal? Most of Carole’s films from Paramount now are Universal property, but a few have slipped into public domain (e.g., “Swing High, Swing Low”). Does “From Hell to Heaven” have similar status? To be honest, I don’t know.

This is only going for $15.99, and I’m not sure whether that’s indicative of the quality of the print. To purchase or learn ore, visit

Posted June 28, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Classic Movie History Project Blogathon: Of Carole and pre-Code   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.06.27 at 19:38

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Welcome to “Of Carole [Lombard] and pre-Code,” my contribution to the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently, Silver Screenings and Once Upon A Screen (and sponsored by Flicker Alley). The three-day blogathon, which began yesterday and concludes tomorrow, examines all facets of movie history — from the dawn of film through 1975. (That year is a good cutoff point, as the release of “Jaws” that summer established the studio blockbuster culture that lives to this day, for better or worse.)

The photo at top shows Lombard in a scene from “Twentieth Century,” after her character, lingerie model Mildred Plotka turned actress Lily Garland, becomes a Broadway diva (with an inflated ego to match) before high-tailing it to Hollywood for big-screen stardom. Carole’s outfit is definitely indicative of pre-Code, although it possibly could have passed muster after the Code was strictly enforced in July 1934. And “Twentieth Century” technically is pre-Code, as it was released in April of ’34 — and some of the publicity pics Lombard took with co-star John Barrymore, such as these below, were deemed too racy by Joseph Breen even before the Code was implemented.

This brings up our topic for today: Why does Lombard tend to be overlooked when it comes to pre-Code actresses? We certainly saw Carole in the various states of undress we so associate with pre-Code. Below are screen grabs (not publicity stills) from two of her films released during the pre-Code era, “No Man Of Her Own” from the end of 1932…

…and “Bolero,” from early 1934:

If looking seductive in scanties was the only criteria for pre-Code stardom, Lombard would have ranked right up there with any of her contemporaries. Instead, she’s rarely mentioned among that crowd. Here are a few reasons:

* A surfeit of talent at her home studio, Paramount. In the early ’30s, Paramount was teeming with actresses — some of them leftovers from silents (Clara Bow), others rising to stardom at the dawn of talkies (Nancy Carroll) or the start of the ’30s (Sylvia Sidney), still others imported from Broadway thanks in part to Paramount’s Astoria studio before it shut down during the Depression downturn (Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, even Ginger Rogers briefly) and a few imported from Europe (Marlene Dietrich). Later, Paramount’s stable of starlets included Ida Lupino, Betty Grable and Ann Sheridan, all of whom would find their main fame elsewhere. With so much competition, it’s no wonder Lombard got lost in the shuffle.

* No distinctive on-screen personality yet to speak of. The Carole of 1930 to ’33 was known for her beauty, fashion sense and fine legs…but then, so were Dietrich, Colbert and many others. Some at the studio liked her ability to identify a good script, and just about everyone at Paramount were fans of Lombard as a person. But there wasn’t much else to hang your hat on when it came to Carole; she couldn’t sing (and wouldn’t try until Mitchell Leisen successfully persuaded her to warble in “Swing High, Swing Low”), she wasn’t identified with any particular genre or director. Perceived as an all-purpose leading lady, she found no niche.

* A lack of sense of direction. Lombard later admitted that in many ways, she was her own worst enemy. After the auto accident that led to Fox dropping her contract in 1926 and her battling back to studio work via Mack Sennett and Pathe, Carole may have grown a bit too comfortable with her status and at times lacked the drive to successfully handle her career. For example, in late 1931, she declined a loanout to Warners for “Taxi!” with James Cagney; Loretta Young instead became her leading lady, and the film became a considerable hit.

Lombard may have hit her nadir in this vein when Paramount assigned her to the horror film “Supernatural” in early 1933. While she may have liked Fay Wray as an actress (both admired writers — Carole later romanced Robert Riskin, Fay eventually married him), she had absolutely no desire to go the “scream queen” route.

Fortunately for Lombard, one of the most reviled men in classic Hollywood lore came to her rescue.

Harry Cohn is remembered by many as the crudest of the movie moguls (and considering the competition, that’s saying something), but history is proving kinder to him and his work. With relatively few resources at his disposal — unlike many of his rivals, Columbia owned no theaters — Cohn kept his studio out of the red for his entire tenure, which lasted well into the 1950s. Columbia rarely held onto stars, but when Cohn had them, he knew what to do with them. And Lombard — one of the few stars who got along well with him — is one of his shining examples.

Carole made five films for Columbia between 1932 and 1934, and whereas Paramount generally gave her pedestrian scripts during that time (“The Eagle and the Hawk” was an exception, but her part was a small one), Cohn gave Lombard top-of-their-line material. It began with “Virtue,” which if you don’t count “Twentieth Century” as a pre-Coder but rather an embryonic screwball comedy, now is perceived as Carole’s finest pre-Code film.

This tale of a streetwalker going straight and finding true love with a cab driver despite a rocky road of romance must have seemed like a second chance for Carole after the “Taxi!” embarrassment. She exhibits a genuine pre-Code toughness unusual for her, especially after she gives a so-called friend part of the couple’s savings (they planned to use it to purchase a service station) and stands up to her after being deceived. Pat O’Brien, sort of a second-tier Cagney, is capable as her cabbie husband, and there’s also a nice supporting turn by future Humphrey Bogart spouse Mayo Methot. “Virtue” has risen in retrospect among Lombard fans — it’ll never be rated alongside “Twentieth Century,” “My Man Godfrey,” “Nothing Sacred” or “To Be Or Not To Be,” but it fits comfortably on a solid second tier with “Hands Across the Table” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

“No More Orchids,” released later in 1932, doesn’t quite reach the heights of “Virtue,” but still it’s arguably better than anything Paramount was giving Carole at the time. (“No Man Of Her Own” isn’t a bad film, and in both that and “Orchids” Lombard shows hints of her later comedic persona, but one doubts it would be remembered as well as it is if future husband Clark Gable wasn’t Carole’s leading man.) Aided by a strong cast (Lyle Talbot, shown above, plus the always-reliable Walter Connolly and Louise Closser Hale, not to mention C. Aubrey Smith as perhaps the most memorable bad guy of any Lombard film prior to “To Be Or Not To Be”), “No More Orchids” is no classic, but neverheless makes for solid entertainment.

“Brief Moment,” adapted from a hit Broadway play and initially envisioned as a Barbara Stanwyck vehicle, was Columbia’s gift to Carole in the fall of 1933. Perhaps Cohn saw this as a prestige item for his small studio, and while it’s hardly an embarrassment to Lombard, it never quite comes off as the successful vehicle Cohn expected. Perhaps Gene Raymond doesn’t have the proper chemistry with her (they would work together once more, in 1941’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and while he meshes better with her there, many fans of the film wish he and Jack Carson had switched roles).

So Lombard never really joined the ranks of Norma Shearer, Constance Bennett, Hopkins, Young and others as pre-Code stars of the first degree. But her time would come, thanks in part to a new genre that evolved out of both “Twentieth Century” and Columbia stablemate “It Happened One Night” — the screwball comedy.

To see entries on the silent era for the blogathon, go to For Golden Age entries, visit And the final day’s entries will be found at

Posted June 27, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized


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