Oh 'Mamma,' Carole's coming back to SyracusePosted by vp19 on 2012.02.23 at 02:03
Current mood: excited
It would mark the end of an era for Carole Lombard, at the ripe old age of 20. No more would she be a mere part of the program, but she'd either be top of the bill or a second feature. Her comedic training as part of the Mack Sennett troupe -- which would pay off for her several years later -- had reached its valedictory. And perhaps most important, from here on in, when you saw Lombard, you'd hear her, too (unless you were in a theater not yet wired for sound).
This was "Matchmaking Mamma," Carole's final all-silent (and note it is "Mamma," not "Mamas" as incorrectly listed in Frederick W. Ott's "The Films Of Carole Lombard" -- that mamma is Daphne Pollard, shown above with Lombard). Released in late March 1929 but probably filmed near the close of 1928, it concluded Carole's tenure with Sennett; she subsequently went to Pathe, which distributed Sennett product, and where she had already worked on several features.
"Matchmaking Mamma" is a pleasant diversion if hardly great silent comedy. Like the other girls, Lombard mostly serves as decoration, especially in a two-strip Technicolor sequence where she performs as part of a pageant:
The funniest sequence comes not from Carole but her old Fairfax High chum Sally Eilers, who has to use her dress as a makeshift potholder when an entree falls out of an oven:
Film Daily reviewed it on April 14, 1929, and note the word it used to describe the movie -- a word becoming increasingly associated with Sennett, as rivals such as Hal Roach had adjusted to changing public tastes in comedy and he hadn't:
You can watch "Matchmaking Mamma" online; it's in the public domain. But if you'd like to experience it on a larger screen, with other folks around for company, you'll have your chance next month, as it's part of Cinefest 32 from March 15 to 18 in my hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., whose movie and theater history I have written about before (most recently in http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/48
"Mamma" will run at Cinefest headquarters, the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, N.Y., just north of town. The four-day program includes silent and sound, shorts and features.
Learn more about this event at http://www.syracusecinefest.com.
I wanted to leave you with an ad for "Matchmaking Mamma" from a Syracuse newspaper, but alas, none could be found. In fact, here's the only ad I've ever seen for it, from the Nov. 21, 1929 Frederick (Md.) News, and Lombard isn't mentioned, even though by this time she had been a lead in several Pathe features:
Enjoy my hometown.