Current mood: grateful
I'm certain many of you were wondering, "Just when is he going to review the new Carole Lombard biography?" Well, truth be told, I've been very busy of late, getting plenty of work from an agency...work that requires long commutes from downtown Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley. So I simply haven't had much time to gather myself and write something.
Now I have -- and rest assured, Michelle Morgan, I love "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star." There are a few flub-ups scattered throughout its pages, minor things that I hope can be fixed for a softcover or American printing of the book. (This comes from The History Press, a British publisher.)
What I like most about this book is that it lets Lombard explain herself in her own words, through comments from newspapers or fan magazines of the time. Yes, some of them may have been sanitized by the studios for public consumption, but if you read between the lines, the real Carole comes through. For example, here's part of an interview Lombard gave reporter Ellsworth Finch in mid-1932:
"I love movies. I must, otherwise I'd have got myself a saner job long ago. I hang on stubbornly, hoping that someday I'll have a crack at a really intelligent, fine picture. I laugh about the stupidities afterward, but at the time it is heart-breaking and nerve-racking. The stories, little confections that have been stirred up by half a dozen hands into a tasty morsel that would drive any adult into acute nausea! The whole system is so cockeyed. The talent is there, but it is so badly used -- the wrong people doing the wrong things, world without end, amen! Casual anecdotes of ordinary studio routine are more harrowing than the darkest Russian tales you can name. It's such a pity -- directors and writers forced into niches where they don't belong. And of course, the actors are eventual victims too."
If we somehow zapped Lombard ahead 84 years into the largely comic- and animation-driven movie world of late 2016, her indignation probably would be amplified tenfold. And one wonders whether a Paramount executive called her into his office to suggest she be a mite kinder to the film industry.
The biography is well-organized, with plenty of fascinating pictures and background on Lombard's family. No matter what part of Carole's career you're particularly interested in, chances are you'll find it here.
And finally, a disclaimer I've mentioned several times before -- I assisted with research on this book, as the above dedication notes. She adds in the acknowledgements,
"Vincent Paterno, Carole Sampeck, Debbie Beno, Douglas Cohen, Bruce Calvert, Robert S. Birchard, Dina-Marie Kulzer and Ann Trifescu have all been gracious enough to share their photos, letters, rare documents and other memorabilia with me. Vincent also trawled the archives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- a kindness I will never forget."
Neither will I forget being attached to a project such as this. Thank you for letting me be part of it.