Late ’28: So much to ‘Show’ (‘Folks,’ ‘Girl,’ ‘People’)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.13 at 12:34

Current mood: creativecreative

Forgive moviegoers in the fall of 1928 if they were a mite confused over what to see. Not only could they find up-and-coming Carole Lombard in a supporting (and antagonistic) role in Pathe’s “Show Folks,” but about that time MGM released a film starring Marion Davies and directed by King Vidor called “Show People,” a first-rate satire of Hollywood aided by William Haines in a supporting role and cameos from the likes of Charlie Chaplin:

Then to add to the confusion, First National put one of its stars, kewpie-doll-come-to-life Alice White, in something titled “Show Girl”:

(This is not to be confused with her 1930 talkie vehicle, “Show Girl in Hollywood.”)

We bring this up because the ’28 “Show Girl,” lost for decades, has been brought back to life…somewhat. It was unveiled last week at a silent film festival after work was done on restoring the visuals:

However, according to Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project, the jazz-oriented soundtrack has yet to be fully coupled with the images, so the premiere ran with piano accompaniment. The complete version should premiere sometime in 2016, and I hope it’s as much a wow as another First National restoration, Colleen Moore’s “Why Be Good?” We look forward to its full restoration.

I hope most of you have seen “Show People,” rightly regarded as Davies’ finest hour on screen. But relatively few have viewed “Show Folks,” and “Show Girl”? Well, if you caught it the first time around, you probably in your nineties. So let’s see how those two films were received back in the day in a small, but influential publication of the time, the Hollywood-based Film Spectator. Here’s what its president and editor, Welford Beaton, had to say about “Show Folks” in its Nov. 10, 1928 issue:

According to Lombard biographers, Paul Stein was the director who couldn’t resist putting his paws on places of Carole where he had no right to, thus leading to Lombard learning inventive invective from her brothers as a defense mechanism.

And here’s a bonus — Beaton’s review of another Lombard Pathe production, “Ned McCobb’s Daughter” (the most recent of Carole’s “lost” films):

Welford wasn’t the only Beaton providing reviews in the magazine. So did his son Donald, 18 at the time, in a cdlumn called “As They Appeal to a Youth.” Here’s what he had to say about “Show Folks” — and just below, his comments on “Show Girl,” a film his dad didn’t yet get to:

A pretty good writer for a teenager, doncha think? Alas, Donald apparently died in May 1931 at age 20 (don’t know the cause), and his father outlived him by another 20 years.


Posted October 13, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

The hotel may be gone, but her furniture lives on   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.12 at 20:45

Current mood: curiouscurious

Carole Lombard’s fateful final trip to her home state of Indiana for what would be the nation’s first war bond rally of World War II has become the stuff of legend. It’s well known that Carole helped sell $2 million worth of bonds at the Indiana state capitol building during the day, then spoke at a rally at the now-demolished Cadle Tabernacle that night. It’s also known that Lombard’s final two nights were spent at the famed Claypool Hotel, a downtown structure that no longer is with us.

But did you know that while the hotel may have been razed, the furniture from the suite where Lombard stayed has been preserved? It’s true. And here it is:

You can see it at a place that in some ways mirrors the Fort Wayne home where Lombard spent the first six years of her life as Jane Alice Peters. It’s at 1410 North Delaware Street in the Old Northside District, and is known as the Indianapolis Propylaeum.

Built in 1890 in the Victorian style by a local beer baron, and over the next three decades or so was sold to other families. By 1923, it wound up in the hands of the Proplyaeum, a local women’s cultural group, whose first president was noted suffragette May Wright Sewall (the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified the month after she died). More than 90 years after it opened, it’s still used for cultural and community purposes.

To learn more about this landmark, visit

I have no doubt in my mind that both Carole and her mother, Elizabeth Peters, would appreciate that their journey to Indianapolis has been commemorated in this manner.

Posted October 12, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Motion Picture,’ November 1930: She’s three in one   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.11 at 21:53

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

It’s the fall of 1930, and word is starting to get out about this new player on Paramount’s roster. For Carole Lombard the baseball fan, she must’ve felt like a touted rookie just called up to the big club after spending some time in the minors.

Essentially, that was Lombard’s situation after a false start at Fox, an automobile accident that threatened her career, getting some seasoning at Mack Sennett and Pathe before the latter dismissed her, and a brief second go-round at Fox. Now, Carole (about to reclaim the “e” on her first name for good) had made two films for Paramount, one in New York, and had been signed to a long-term contract by this major studio. Not bad.

In its November 1930 issue, Herbert Cruikshank of Motion Picture wrote a feature on Lombard, one of those actresses people had seen on screen but couldn’t quite place where, called “The Three-In-One Girl”:

The lead sentence must have been particularly delicious for Carole: “Imagine Constance Bennett with Jeanne Eagels’ voice and you have Carole Lombard.” (Near the end of the story, we learned someone mistook her for Connie.) She had nothing against Eagels, who had died young in October 1929, but Bennett? Another matter entirely. It’s long been believed that when Constance signed with Pathe in 1929, one of her conditions was that the studio divest itself of potential blonde competition…so goodbye Lombard, goodbye close friend Diane Ellis.

This story apparently derives from an interview Lombard gave Cruikshank at New York’s famed Hotel Algonquin when she was in town filming “Fast and Loose” at Paramount’s Astoria studios. Did she mention what happened with Bennett at Pathe? Was it common knowledge in the industry? (Even if it were, it really wasn’t fodder for fanmags, who wanted to stay on the good side of stars and studios.) So perhaps Carole planted the reference to Connie, and the writer discreetly ran with it. (Also note that Carole is described as “tall”; either she had purchased shoes with unusually high heels while in NYC, or she simply exuded a larger-than-life aura to these easterners.)

One thing I particularly like about this piece is that Cruikshank sees Carole’s strength as comedy (“Let her make folks laugh and she’ll be happy”) — something that should’ve been obvious given her training with Mack Sennett, though Paramount kept trying to shoehorn her into an all-purpose leading lady over the next few years.

Another surprise here is her naming an actor who I had never heard of as one of her favorites. His name was Charles Kaley (1902-1965), a singing bandleader from Nebraska whose best-known film was “Lord Byron of Broadway” (1930); he made but five films, two of them shorts. Here he is with Gwen Lee in “Lord Byron”:

Also note she gave the writer her impression of Greta Garbo nearly six years before making “The Princess Comes Across”! All in all, a fun snapshot of Lombard as she slowly began to establish the persona she’d gain fame for throughout the ’30s.

Marland Stone’s portrait of Helen Twelvetrees graced the cover:

Inside is a fascinating feature on what passed for special effects in 1930, long before CGI, green screen and other innovations:

Star portrait subjects included Joan Bennett…

…Robert Montgomery…

…and Anita Page:

Opposite the first page of the Lombard feature was Marion Davies, promoting Technicolor:

And there were plenty of movie ads as well. Fox touts a few of its releases:

From Paramount, there’s Harold Lloyd in “Feet First,” aka “Safety Last” with sound:

By now, Sennett had set up shop at Educational, still cranking out comedy shorts:

Ann Harding starred in a version of the stage chestnut “Girl of the Golden West”:

Lordly MGM used spot color to brighten the advance of its “Trader Horn”:

At Warners, vivacious Winnie Lightner starred in “The Life of the Party.” directed by future husband Roy Del Ruth:

And finally, up-and-coming Columbia cited the directors it had hired, including Frank Capra, Howard Hawks and Victor Fleming. Also note the “Miss Columbia” contest Harry Cohn used to spark interest in the studio, which unlike most of its brethren owned no theater properties:

Posted October 11, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Modern Screen,’ September 1937: Marvelously refreshed   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.10 at 19:19

Current mood: rejuvenatedrejuvenated

Carole Lombard was among the many stars in Hollywood associated with Lux soap. Not only did she appear several times on its highly-rated “Lux Radio Theater” between May 1938 and June 1941, but she was frequently seen in ads for the company. Here’s one I don’t believe we’ve run before, from Modern Screen of September 1937:

Aside from the ad about her beauty bath, there wasn’t much about Lombard in that issue, although there was this tidbit from the “Good News” gossip column:

Interesting that the piece focuses more on Lynn Fontanne’s obliviousness than any Lombard humiliation. (And a few years later, Clark Gable would take on Alfred Lunt’s role in a rather castrated cinematic adaptation of “Idiot’s Delight.”)

The cover subject, from Earl Christy, is someone still with us today at age 99, Olivia de Havilland:

The issue featured portraits of two of my favorites, Marlene Dietrich…

…and Myrna Loy:

And the movie ads? They were plentiful. MGM led off, as usual, with a spot-color ad for several of its films, as usual (“Marie Walewska” soon would be renamed “Conquest,” as MGM wouldn’t go the non-pronouncable route for Greta Garbo until “Ninotchka”):

…followed by a two-page spread for Jack Benny’s “Artists and Models,” also with Ida Lupino, Gail Patrick, Martha Raye and music from Louis Armstrong:

Then there’s Selznick International’s “Prisoner of Zenda”…

…Twentieth Century-Fox’s musical “You Can’t Have Everything”…

…Barbara Stanwyck in Samuel Goldwyn’s classic “Stella Dallas”…

…and Shirley Temple in a John Ford-directed Rudyard Kipling yarn, Fox’s “Wee Willie Winkie”:

You can buy this straight up for $18 or bid, beginning at $12.95, in which case the auction will end at 8:55 a.m. (Eastern) next Saturday. Get all the info at

Posted October 10, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole, Myrna, Ida and Ginger: Fashion en espanol   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.09 at 23:10

Current mood: hothot

Like many other stars of her time, Carole Lombard was popular with audiences who didn’t speak English. In particular, Spanish-language publications such asCinelandia (above) and Cine-Mundial frequently either wrote about Carole or used her as a cover subject.

In 1936, the same year the Cinelandia cover above was published, Lombard joined three other stars — Myrna Loy, Ida Lupino and Ginger Rogers — in a four-page fashion spread. Here’s the front page, where Carole was most prominent:

The next page:

And the other two:

I apologize for the lack of focus in these photos, but that’s what I was given to work with.

You can purchase the clippings for #19.99, or make an offer. If you’re interested, visit

Posted October 10, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

When sepia gets blue   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.08 at 19:12

Current mood: hothot

What a lovely pose of Carole Lombard — from the early 1930s, if what she’s wearing is indicative — but here’s how the person selling the item describes it, directly from the ad:

I hope the seller, who apparently is from Denmark, doesn’t think I’m trying to slight him; far from the case. It’s a Lombard image I’ve never seen before, and any time Carole wears that skimpy outfit, as she does in several other pics, is cause for celebration (at least among the male members of the audience). Is it “hot and leggy”? By all means. Is it original? Apparently so. Is it sepia? Well, Wikipedia defines the shade as

“Sepia is a reddish-brown color, named after the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish Sepia.

And unlike some Wikipedia entries, I don’t think this is something that’s been or will be altered by hackers.

This is Lombard in sepia:

This is not to say the blue-tinted Lombard photo, which the seller says is in “very fine” condition, doesn’t possess a certain charm. Here’s a close-up of part of it, showing off Carole’s sex appeal:

Anyway, one bid — for $9.99 — has been made as of this writing, and the auction closes at 4:57 a.m. (Eastern) Saturday, so if you’d like to make this yours, get to it fast. Visit×10-HOT-and-leggy/272001685179?_trksid=p2047675.c100010.m2109&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131231084308%26meid%3D7782733692cf4b6da1e4ea41401ee033%26pid%3D100010%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D19%26sd%3D351542968340 to find out more.

Posted October 8, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole, and ‘Godfrey,’ to bring some Fort Wayne to Chicagoland   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.10.07 at 19:55

Current mood: excitedexcited

What’s that subject line of his referring to, you ask? Well, here’s the answer. Carole Lombard’s comic masterpiece “My Man Godfrey” will be shown at 2 p.m. Monday at the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Memorial Library in suburban Chicago as part of the library’s “Hometowns to Hollywood” series. (The house above, at 704 Rockhill Street in Fort Wayne, is where Jane Alice Peters, the future Lombard, was born on Oct. 6, 1908.)

The presenter is film historian Annette Bochenek, who knows of what she speaks when the topic is Lombard; she does a blog, “Hometowns to Hillywood,” and in August 2013 profiled Carole and Fort Wayne ( In fact, last month Bochenek introduced another screwball classic, “Theodora Goes Wild,” with host Ben Mankiewicz on Turner Classic Movies.

When not researching films, she teaches English and film studies at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, Ill., where she wrote a piece for the school paper earlier this year about her classic cinematic passion (

While you don’t need a library card to attend the event, you do need to register — and as good as “Godfrey” is watching alone on a small screen, it’s infinitely more fun when you watch with an audience and enjoy the jokes as a group. To find out how to register and learn more about the event, visit

Posted October 7, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized