Above is one of my very favorite Carole Lombard photographs, taken in 1939 or 1940 near the Encino ranch she shared with second husband Clark Gable. The joy on her face is simply spellbinding, a sign all is right with her world.
Today, I share that sort of feeling, because I’m reaching a milestone. This marks the 3,000th entry at Carole & Co. since its debut on June 13, 2007 — that’s slightly more than one per day…including periodic days off for illness, not to mention a prolonged absence in late 2012 when I tore a ligament in my right quad and was away from a computer for nearly three weeks. Nearly all of the entries over the years have been from yours truly (although outside entrants with Lombard or classic Hollywood-related posts are always welcome).
Today, I’m going to celebrate by finally reciprocating one of the nicest compliments this site has ever received. It came courtesy of John McElwee at…
…Greenbriar Picture Shows (http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/), unique among classic movie blogs in that it not only examines the films themselves, but the showmanship and marketing behind them. McElwee also has assembled a list of links, http://www.oldmovieexhibition.com/, and look at what he wrote about Carole & Co.:
Needless to say, when I saw this, I felt tall enough to duck through doorways with my feet on the ground (not an easy thing to do when you’re 5-foot-7 on a good day!). Ever since, I’ve felt the need to return the favor, and while I’ve frequently raved about his site (and occasionally noted Lombard-related references), I’ve wanted to do more — and now I can, because I recently purchased McElwee’s book…
“Showmen, Sell It Hot!” is but another reminder that movie marketing is as much “show” as it is “business,” or at least it was until “Jaws” kicked off the blockbuster era and marketing a film became almost entirely corporate. (It helps explain why Thursday has become the most important day of the week for prime-time TV; it’s the night before the weekend movie premieres, and unlike the era when films gradually made their way from the downtown palaces to the “nabes,” or neighborhood cinemas, to the second-run and eventually the revival house, these days opening-weekend box office is everything.)
The book to some extent is a large-scale version of McElwee’s blog entries, focusing on cinematic salesmanship from Erich von Stroheim’s “Foolish Wives” to marketing “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967, the year “new Hollywood” began to push the previous generation aside (at least until the bean-counters with MBAs took over in the ’80s).
Lombard pops up in occasional places, too. For example, what does her “Love Before Breakfast” character Kay Colby…
…have in common with Dracula and the Frankenstein monster? All have ties to Universal, and in spring 1938 — when studios jumped head-in to the revival of old features — “Breakfast,” “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” were among five features Universal reissued. (The other two were “All Quiet on the Western Front” and the Alice Brady comedy “Lady Tubbs.”)
While a twin bill of “Breakfast” and “Frankenstein” was successful for at least one exhibitor — did Carole’s famed black eye in the film count as horror? — it wasn’t until the monster films were teamed that Universal did truly boffo business. (Reissues play a key role in the book, including RKO bringing back “King Kong” in 1952 and Warners teaming early gangster classics “Little Caesar” and “The Public Enemy” a few years later.)
A wonderful book to accompany a wonderful blog. “Showmen, Sell It Hot!” is available through GoodKnight Books (the same folks who brought you Robert Matzen’s excellent “Fireball”); learn more about it at http://goodknightbooks.com/15.html.
John, consider the compliment returned.