Spanish-language spice: Late ’20s Lombard clippings   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.02 at 11:38

Current mood: hothot

Think you’ll agree that image above is one of the sexier ones of Carole Lombard floating about. It’s from the late 1920s, possibly taken by William E. Thomas (whose photos of Carole are among the raciest she ever did), and it’s from a Spanish-language magazine, as we can tell from (admittedly difficult to read) negative of the copy (also note her first name is listed as “Carolle,” revealing its Mack Sennett background):

This pic, with Jeanne Eagels on the flip side…

…is on sale at eBay for $12.90, or you can make an offer. Find out more by visiting

But wait, there’s more, as the Ronco TV pitchman used to say. The same seller has this pic of Lombard ran in the November 1928 issue of Cine-Mundial:

On the flip side, none other than Erich von Stroheim:

The buy-it-now or make-offer conditions also apply here, but the asking price is $12. Check it out at

Finally, another Lombard pose from that session was used to illustrate a Cine-Mundial piece in its January 1928 issue. The story appears to be on the transition to talking pictures, which had only just started at the beginning of ’28, and Carole (who would take a voice test early that year and pass the audition) isn’t mentioned in the copy; she’s merely there for decoration — and what decoration!

She’s identified in the caption at the bottom (again as “Carolle”), as this closeup proves:

I’ve never had any instruction in the Spanish language, but I’ll run the final two parts of this story and perhaps someone can translate the entire thing — there are references to studio magnate Willism Fox and fabled director F.W. Murnau of “Sunrise” fame, so it might prove interesting:

The clipping (the first page only; the other two were uploaded from the Media History Digital Library) is available for $7.90 (there’s no make-offer option here). All the information is available at

Posted October 2, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

That’s good pie! Stan and Ollie’s pinnacle of pastry found   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.01 at 11:10

Current mood: happyhappy

Carole Lombard took part in all sorts of gags during her comic apprenticeship for Mack Sennett. Sometimes — though not here in this still from “The Bicycle Flirt” — she was the victim. But there was one gag which Carole apparently never participated in, since by 1927 it was deemed too hoary by most in the movie industry:

The pie-in-the-face routine.

Buster Keaton is shown in this gag, but by the time he was able to exert creative control over his own comedic vehicles, pies in the face were verboten, an overused relic of early Sennett slapstick. But late in 1927, Sennett’s rival Hal Roach was persuaded to revive the routine for his new comic team, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The result was the stuff of legend.

And perhaps sometime next year, many of us will view this classic sequence, in full, for the first time since audiences did in 1927.

It’s part of the L&H two-reeler “The Battle of the Century,” a sort of parody of that September’s famed “long count” heavyweight title bout where Gene Tunney retained his crown in a controversial decision over Jack Dempsey at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The first reel, which contains many boxing elements, was found in the late 1970s. But where was the second reel, which featured the pie fight? We’ll get to that shortly, but first, let’s explain why this pastry fight is so justifiably famous.

It’s probably the biggest pie fight in history — thousands of pies are thrown — but what makes it special isn’t the sheer volume, but its pacing. As Laurel told Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times a few years later,

“It wasn’t just that we threw hundreds of pies — that wouldn’t have been very funny; it really had passed out with Keystone. We went at it, strange as it may sound, psychologically. We made every one of the pies count.

“A well-dressed man strolling casually down the avenue, struck squarely in the face by a large pastry, would not proceed at once to gnash his teeth, wave his arms in the air and leap up and down. His first reaction, it is reasonable to suppose, would be one of numb disbelief. Then embarrassment, and a quick survey of the damage done to his person. Then indignation and a desire for revenge would possess him; if he saw another pie at hand, still unspoiled, he would grab it up and let it fly.”

The fight wasn’t entirely lost. Robert Youngson used a segment of it in his “Golden Age of Comedy” (the same compilation that has part of Lombard’s “Run, Girl, Run”), but that apparently was all that remained — and Youngson, who died in 1974, was blamed by many film preservationists for not preserving the second reel.

Now he’s been posthumously exonerated. It turns out the entire second reel was part of his collection, and last summer Jon Mirsalis got a hold of many of these reels. Examining when he had, he discovered the second reel for “Battle of the Century” was larger than anticipated, and to his delight he discovered he probably was the first person since Youngson to have seen the entire reel.

That second reel has been sent to a Paris firm for restoration and eventual release in one form of another, united with the first reel. It’s a victory for preservationists and L&H fans alike. Heck, somewhere William Randolph Hearst probably is allowing Marion Davies — who got to throw a pie in a slapstick sequence in 1928’s “Show People” but had to settle for being squirted with seltzer water — take some pastry. (And perhaps some other long-lost films — Lombard’s early silents for Fox; Colleen Moore’s first major hit, “Flaming Youth”; pre-Code Holy Grail “Convention City” — will turn up somewhere.)

For more on this discovery, visit

Posted October 1, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘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


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