National Classic Movie Day: Going ga-ga for ‘Godfrey’   1 comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.16 at 15:51

Current mood: pleasedpleased

Today is the inaugural National Classic Movie Day, and since it was a given that my selection for a blogathon on this topic would be a Carole Lombard feature, here’s my selection for the Classic Film and TV Cafe ( — none other than “My Man Godfrey,” the 1936 classic directed by Gregory La Cava.

Several Lombard films battled for the honor in my mind — not just the other three members of her so-called “big four” (“Twentieth Century,” “Nothing Sacred” and “To Be Or Not To Be”), but the somewhat unheralded “Hands Across the Table” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” In the end, however, the choice was “Godfrey.” Here are my reasons:

* It defines the genre. “Godfrey” invariably ranks among the very best screwball comedies ever made, with only a few rivals to the crown. And unlike one of its prime competitors, Howard Hawks’ 1938 “Bringing Up Baby”…

* It has a heart and soul to its humor. To be fair, such isn’t the intent of “Bringing Up Baby,” but “Godfrey’s” contrasting of the silly rich with the luckless poor — summed up by the title character, who’s been in both places and frankly feels more at home with the downtrodden — gives it more appeal to modern audiences. I’ve often quipped that “Godfrey,” with its skewering of the 1 percent, would make it a great film for fans of the Occupy movement.

* A superlative cast, an unheralded director. From left, Alice Brady, Lombard, Mischa Auer and William Powell all were nominated for acting awards for “Godfrey”; none of them won, but all were deserving of nominations. (So, for that matter, were Gail Patrick and Eugene Pallette.) At right is director Gregory La Cava, also nominated but a non-winner — he directed many fine movies over the years, including “Gabriel Over the White House” and “Stage Door,” but this is his best-known achievement.

* Memorable scenes. From Godfrey pushing the snooty Cornelia into a pile of ashes (much to the glee of younger sister Irene) to Godfrey putting Irene in the shower (and her delirious reaction to it) to her marriage to Godfrey at the city dump turned nightclub site (“It’ll be all over in a minute!”), “My Man Godfrey” has scenes that resonate with classic movie fans. And we haven’t even touched on the scatterbrained Mrs. Bullock, her “protege” Carlo and the exasperated Mr. Bullock. It’s out-and-out comic brilliance.

If you know someone who’s not familiar with screwball comedy in general or Lombard in particular, this is a splendid introduction to the genre and to her. Their attention should be grabbed even before the movie begins, thanks to one of the most imaginative opening sequences in history:

“Godfrey” is in the public domain and relatively easy to find. If you can, however, get the Criterion Collection version, released in 2001. It has a first-rate print and all sorts of extras, including the 1938 “Lux Radio Theater” adaptation where Lombard, Powell and Patrick reprise their movie roles.

Posted May 16, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A lot of leg, a lot of Lombard…but a thirties ‘mini’?   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.15 at 22:40

Current mood: hothot

Carole Lombard was justifiably proud of her legs, but probably not proud enough to go against fashion history.

This large pic of the leggy Lombard on sale at eBay is described in the subject line as “Carole Lombard Mini Dress Pin Up 16 x 20 Photographic Print.” While Carole could be unconventional at times, one can’t imagine her flouting any 1930s fashion police by wearing this outfit to dine at Sardi’s or the Brown Derby. And the term “minidress” or “miniskirt” did not exist in the 1930s. (This looks to be from 1934 or ’35.)

No, this is Carole the casual — something to wear at poolside while sunning herself one afternoon, complete with bonnet.

Anyway, at 16″ x 20″, this would be quite the image on the wall of any Lombard fan; it’s on heavyweight archival paper, too, suitable for framing. Want it? For $24.99, it can be yours. Go to×20-Photographic-Print-/281692650896?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item419630bd90 for more information.

Posted May 16, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Phantoms of the ‘Century’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.14 at 15:51

Current mood: curiouscurious

New Broadway star Lily Garland (Carole Lombard) spends some time with her discoverer and likely lover, theater impresario Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)…but as we can tell from that photo, already there are undercurrents of discord between them. Soon, Lily will leave the Great White Way behind and head west to Hollywood — and while we never see a snippet of Lily Garland performing on film, we don’t have to. Neither does Oscar, who to his dismay sees this from a newsstand:

If you’re a collector of Carole’s magazine covers, don’t get excited about finding these “new ones,” since they’re not new. Heck, they even aren’t real. Instead, these are “phantoms” — covers that don’t genuinely exist. Yes, the names of the magazines existed in 1934, and Lombard even appeared on their covers at one time or another…simply not in those poses.

For proof that these aren’t covers of Carole, but her cinematic alter ego, here’s a close-up:

The name on the cover is “Lily Garland,” not “Carole Lombard.” (Note, too, that an adjoining mag refers to Jean Harlow on its cover, and other film notables in the first newsstand pic include Barbara Stanwyck and Kay Francis.

What makes this all the more interesting is that in mid-May, about the time Columbia was opening “Twentieth Century” in theaters nationwide, Photoplay was shipping its June issue to newsstands, and guess who was on the cover>

Incidentally, Lombard has nothing to do with the “Blondes Plus Curves Mean War” story headlined at the bottom; it’s a reference to three Europeans vying for Hollywood supremacy — Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and newcomer Anna Sten.

You can purchase this issue straight up for $37, or make an offer. Find out more by visiting

Finally, we’re happy to report that the Broadway revival of “On the Twentieth Century,” the musical derived from the 1932 play and 1934 film — starring our favorite little giant, Kristin Chenoweth — has had its run extended throuh July 19 at the American Airlines Theater in midtown Manhattan. To get tickets and for more information, including clips from the show and more, go to (Wonder if any fake fanmag covers of Kristin are among the props?)

Posted May 14, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Lombard does the ‘jerk’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.13 at 22:06

Current mood: amusedamused

Obviously not the dance of the 1960s, either.

Things were going well for Carole Lombard a year into her marriage with Clark Gable. Not only was she having fun as a farm wife, but she still managed to laugh at herself. This following autographed letter, from May 17, 1940, serves as proof.

She sent it to Glen Taylor, an advertising representative from the Young & Rubicam agency’s Hollywood Boulevard office; it apparently refers to two recent radio performances of hers, though I’m not entirely certain which program she is referring to. Since it’s rather hard to read above, here are two segments of the letter, capped by the way she signed it:

What other star in Hollywood, or at least any actress at the time, would refer to herself as a “jerk”? Her self-deprecation is yet another reason Lombard was so beloved throughout the industry.

This unusual item is from mangiamo, arguably the premier seller of Lombard memorabilia on eBay. Here’s what they say about this:

“Here is a unique item — a letter from Carole Lombard to Glen Taylor at Young & Rubicam where she signs her name “Jerk Lombard.” The letter explains that he has a case of poison oak and “I really look like a Jerk.” (see photos for complete letter). Dated May 17, 1940, on personalized, monogrammed “CLG” stationery (Carole Lombard Gable); they were married in 1939. Signature is somewhat faded after 75 years but still very readable. The letter itself is 7″ x 10″, but it professionally matted and framed for an overall dimension of 16″ x 20″.

“You may have a dozen Lombard autographs, but this is the only one signed “Jerk Lombard.”

And now it’s up for auction, with a minimum bid of $250. It’s a one-of-a-kind, to be sure — indicative of Carole’s very special personality. The auction concludes at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern) Monday, and I hope whomever is the winning bidder gives it a wonderful home. To bid or learn more, visit

And to Carole: You may be a “jerk,” but you’re our “jerk”…and we love you for it.

Posted May 14, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

It’s real, it’s spectacular…and it’ll cost you   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.12 at 09:41

Current mood: creativecreative

Autographs are among the most fascinating facets of Carole Lombard collecting — and one of the areas where the gullible are most susceptible. Unless you do your research, you can wind up shelling out goodly money for a bill of goods.

The pic above, of Carole with her beloved horse Pico, is the real deal. So too is the following; in fact, its seller claims this may be “possibly the best example ever offered on eBay.”

That’s the picture, measuring 20″ X 24 1/2″ in a new frame with museum glass — the image itself is an 11″ x 14″ double-weight. Here’s the autograph in question:

Lombard’s preferred green ink? Check. Handwriting consistent with autographs of hers over the years? Check. (Heck, it even appears as if she misspelled “friend,” FWIW.) So, what makes this autographed picture so special? Let Steve Cyrkin, editor and publisher of Autograph magazine, explain:

“Carole Lombard, one of the greatest stars before World War II, died tragically in an airplane crash. She was also part of the star system. So, you’ll see 5″ × 7″ head shots of her usually signed ‘Cordially, Carole Lombard’ that are almost always secretarial. They were pumped out by the studios to keep fans watching her films.

“On 8″ x 10″s and 11″ x 14″s, the photos she most likely signed, there are lengthy inscriptions. They’re gorgeous photographs and mostly on double-weight stock. There may be 100 to 200, 8″ × 10″ inscribed photographs of Lombard in existence and they generally sell in the $1,500 range.

“The 11″ × 14″ photographs of Lombard are much rarer — there are maybe 20 or 30 of them in the world. The real long-term values for a collector are these oversize, signed photographs because they are the rarest. They usually bear personal inscriptions and they are the highest form of collecting Hollywood signed photographs. The price for an 11″ × 14″ can run from $2,000 to $15,000, depending on a number of factors, including pose, condition, what the inscription says and who it is inscribed to.

“The great stars had access to the best quality of photographs. For instance, when you see an oversize Carole Lombard, it’s on double-weight photo stock, and either Otto Dyar or Eugene Robert Richee is usually the photographer. They’re exceptional photographs and they are what Lombard would have had personal access to. So, if a friend, a colleague or a fellow star requested an autograph, she would generally take one of these photographs, inscribe it to the person and present it in person — much differently than something you would receive in the mail from the publicity department of the studio.

“No matter which celebrity or era of vintage Hollywood that you are interested in collecting, always remember that the vast majority of celebrity photographs signed in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s that are not personalized (a photograph with a signature only, a photograph signed ‘Cordially, Clark Gable’ or ‘Best wishes, Jean Harlow’) are secretarials — nine times out of 10. That’s just the way it worked back then. It’s the opposite for the inscribed 11″ x 14″s. Nine times out of 10, those are real — not secretarial. The 5″ x 7″s are almost always secretarial. The 8″ x 10″s are a mixed lot; I would say at least 30 percent are secretarial.”

When you reflect on this, it makes plenty of sense, given the way the system worked in addition to time constraints on Lombard and other stars. Here’s an example that may prove his point — possibly a rare blend of secretarial and personal:

The “Cordially, Carole Lombard” appears to be secretarial (many of the “real” autographed photos were simply signed “Carole,” no last name needed). But this pic is inscribed to someone…and the ink appears slightly different than for the lower segment.

More about the photo for sale, an image that appears to be from 1933 or ’34: It’s a “superb and gorgeous vintage matte-finish oversized photo eloquently displaing a dreamy Lombard boldly signed in bright green fountain pen ‘For my Best Friend Jimmy always – Carole.’ A few traces of the very subtlest wear, with the slightest handling on the mat and mentioned only for the strictest accuracy, otherwise very fine, fresh, immaculate condition. A stellar, blue-chip example for the most discriminating collector!”

Perhaps that explains why this image is on sale for $6,450, or $1,075 for six months; that $1,075 is more than I pay for monthly rent on my Los Angeles studio apartment. Needless to say, you had best be a serious Carole collector to pursue this one. (However, you also have an option to make an offer.)

To purchase, make an offer or simply see some more images of this exquisite oversized Lombard autographed photo, visit

Posted May 12, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

81 years ago today…   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.11 at 21:44

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

At this time in 1934, Carole Lombard was serving as leading lady for Bing Crosby’s latest Paramount musical vehicle, “We’re Not Dressing” — entering competition in theaters with what would be Carole’s breakthrough film, Columbia’s “Twentieth Century.” Here’s how the Providence Journal in Rhode Island advertised Lombard and Bing:

It’s playing at the Paramount, as one might expect — but look at the adjacent ad, and we can discern it’s promoting “Manhattan Melodrama” at the Loew’s State…the only movie to co-star both of Lombard’s husbands, her ex William Powell and her future mate Clark Gable. It’s also notable as the first of many Powell teamings with Myrna Loy. Both the Paramount and Loew’s survive, in a sense, the former as a nightclub (Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel), the latter as the Providence Performing Arts Center.

You can purchase this clipping, measuring 6″ x 10″ and in fair condition, for $1.49 by going to

Posted May 11, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole and Coop, ‘Now and Forever’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.10 at 21:45

Current mood: contentcontent

While many still are hesitant to confer the label “sex symbol” on Carole Lombard, there’s no doubt she was among her era’s more sexually liberated personalities, and Gary Cooper probably was one of her Hollywood bedroom connections. (I hesitate to use the phrase “conquests” where Carole was concerned; to qualify as a Lombard lover, one had to energize her mind as much as her libido.) Cooper and Lombard made two movies together, 1931’s rarely seen “I Take This Woman” and the 1934 drama “Now and Forever,” which today perhaps is better remembered for an early Shirley Temple appearance than for its two older stars.

The photo above, of Coop and Carole cavorting playfully, is from the latter film, as a complete view of the image confirms:

According to the seller, “The photograph is single weight with a glossy finish and with borders. There is nothing on the back. There is a caption along the bottom with the dated 1934. There is a faint bend lower left corner.” The 8″ x 10″ image is considered in “near mint” condition.

You can purchase the photo for $99.99 straight up (which includes an option for paying $17 a month for six months) or make an offer. For more information, visit

Posted May 10, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized


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