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A Lombard film is finally on DVD. Well, sort of.



Several notable Carole Lombard films remain underrepresented on DVD. Her breakthrough movie, "Twentieth Century," appeared on DVD in 2005 and has yet to be reissued with any sort of extras or bonuses befitting a screwball classic. But another of her films hasn't even been that fortunate -- the 1940 drama "They Knew What They Wanted" (that's Carole above as San Francisco waitress Amy, who answers a mail-order marriage proposal from vintner Charles Laughton in Napa wine country, with unexpected consequences).



The estate of playwright Sidney Howard (who won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1925 for "They Knew What They Wanted") controls the rights, and while the film was issued on videocassette in the 1980s (and was available for local TV stations at the time), its DVD release has been in limbo for years. So someone took matters into their own hands.

A seller on Etsy who apparently is a Laughton fan has issued a DVD of "They Knew What They Wanted" which he or she claims can play on any DVD player throughout the world. (As this is a bootleg issue I can't vouch for this, nor for its quality. Caveat emptor.)

The price is reasonable -- $9.53. As of this writing, four copies are available. Think you're interested? Visit https://www.etsy.com/listing/951989451/they-knew-what-they-wanted-1949-charles?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=carole+lombard&ref=sr_gallery-1-1&organic_search_click=1.
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Three views of the 'Reporter'



Carole Lombard was moving up in the movie world in 1933, as this fan magazine portrait shows. (It also makes clear that Charles Laughton was not Paramount's initial choice to co-star with her in the potboiler "White Woman.") The trade press also took note of Lombard's assignments, among them the Hollywood Reporter.

Three issues of the Reporter, featuring Carole in front-page casting blurbs, are now up for sale at eBay. I'd like to tell you more about them, but the seller only shows the fronts and the trade paper has minimal online presence in the Media History Digital Library -- the only issues that can be examined are from the first six months of 1933 and from January to June of 1934. More's the pity, because while the Reporter clearly had its biases, it provided solid coverage of the industry.

Chronologically, the oldest issue is from Jan. 28, 1933, where we learn Lombard was to star in a Paramount programmer titled "Dead Reckoning":




No film named "Dead Reckoning" apparently was made in 1933. Also note that RKO became the second studio in as many days to go into receivership, following Paramount. This was the nadir of the Depression, and everyone in the industry was hurting.

On July 22 of '33, the Reporter wrote Lombard would star in the film "She Made Her Bed":



Not sure what happened to that project.

Finally, on May 28, 1935, Hollywood noted the merger of Fox with Twentieth Century, while In Lombard news, she agreed to star in "Spinster Dinner," made at Universai in 1936 under the title "Love Before Breakfast":



All these are available for $19.99, or the best offer.

For Jan. 28, 1933, go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hollywood-Reporter-Magazine-1933-jan-28-CAROLE-LOMBARD-LEAD-IN-DEAD-RECKONING/254853409823?hash=item3b56726c1f:g:smoAAOSwJWFgGQec.

For July 22, 1933, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hollywood-Reporter-Magazine-1933-july-22-CAROLE-LOMBARD-SHE-MADE-HER-BED/254853409817?hash=item3b56726c19:g:0qQAAOSwwkhgGQea.

And for May 28, 1935, check out https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hollywood-Reporter-Magazine-1935-may-28-CAROLE-LOMBARD-SPINSTER-DINNER/254853409996?hash=item3b56726ccc:g:S9EAAOSwmg1gGQe5.
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Lombard, 'Ladies' Man' and lesbianism



"Ladies' Man," a Carole Lombard-William Powell romantic drama, celebrates its 90th anniversary this spring. The film, also starring Kay Francis, casts Powell as a gigolo who woos Lombard, her character's mother, and Francis before meeting a tragic end. The movie has its moments, but might be best analyzed from what we today would call an LGBT perspective.

And it has, thanks to a blogger who calls herself "NotorouslyNora." She examines the undercurrents of classic film in this manner and recently explored "Ladies' Man" this way (https://notoriouslynora.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/latent-lesbianism-in-ladies-man/comment-page-1/?unapproved=134&moderation-hash=bb2853da00174cb5633a371058686cfa#comment-134). She has several cogent points to make. For example, she says "Ladies' Man" has a "fascinatingly progressive subtext that teases an open embracement of unconventional values." This subtext, Nora says, "gains its entire substance from everything that is left unsaid."



The Francis character intrigues Powell by her unconventionality, which she uses to wield power over him and consequently turn the tables. Powell meets his demise at the hands of Lombard's father.



Nora notes Francis' character is relatively cool with Powell, but livens up with Lombard -- even if Carole may be a bit oblivious to what is going on. "Played out through expression and body language alone, Kay Francis evokes a sensuous and undeniable desire that permeates through the screen."

Lombard was 22 when "Ladies' Man" was made, and while it's uncertain whether she ever experimented with lesbianism during her brief life (in fact, she would marry Powell in June of '31), she almost certainly was aware it existed, and likely knew Francis -- who'd become a close friend -- was bisexual. She played well against Kay's sexual ambiguity.
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Lombard on selling herself, plus RIP Cloris and Cicely



There are many reasons Carole Lombard fascinates -- her ethereal beauty, her acting talent, so many other things. But she also was frank about the business of show business, a field she showed boundless enthusiasm for dating back to silent days.

Moreover, Lombard was never reluctant to share her thoughts about marketing herself, as she did after spending a week running Selznick International's publicity department in July 1938. But more than a year before that, she discussed the topic in a piece that ran in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in May 1937. (Double-click to see it at full scale.) As she wrote, "If a star or player doesn't change, he or she is licked!"



Carole compared herself to a car model. "You can bet that if it is 'the same old Lombard' in 1937, Lombard isn't going to be much in demand in 1938," she notes. And such changes occur in a variety of manners, sometimes through style -- Lombard cited designer Travis Banton and hairdresser Loretta Francel -- sometimes physically (according to Lombard, her '37 self had lost 13 pounds and had wider shoulders through planing tennis).



She also dismissed her "sophisticated" image from earlier in the decade. "The truth of the matter was that I wasn't sophisticated -- I just didn't know how to act," she wrote. "I was afraid somebody would find it out." (To some extent, she underestimated herself; take a look at her tough pre-Code character in "Virtue," admittedly anything but a "cool" role, for proof.)

Lombard's more recent successes -- "Hands Across The Table," "The Princess Comes Across" and "My Man Godfrey" -- she credited to "learning, for the first time, how to be myself on the screen." At the same time, she didn't want to limit herself. "I've been told to do a story on 'From now on, it's funny.' Actually, I don't know whether I'm going to be funny for the rest of my life. I rather doubt it."

Lombard lamented Hollywood's double standard. "A feminine player no sooner learns to act than she's through. No woman can play romantic parts in motion pictures successfully after reaching the age of 35." (There were a few exceptions in Carole's time, such as Ruth Chatterton, who at age 40 could pull off romantic leads with sex appeal.)



Sadly, fate denied Carole the opportunity of finding out, but she deemed herself blessed to be in the business. "I like motion pictures. I'd never want to do anything else," Carole said. "I like the people, the work, the play, everything about them." I thank Brian Anderson for uncovering this wonderful piece, one that shows Lombard's fertile mind at work.

This week, we lost two legends of acting, both award-winners who lived into their nineties -- Cloris Leachman and Cicely Tyson.




Leachman won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Last Picture Show" and was a mainstay of film and TV in both drama and comedy. Tyson, a pioneering black actress, excelled in films such as "Sounder" and won an Emmy for "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." Both will be missed.
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Very fine fashion for a p1202



After a 10-day hiatus, soaking in the change of presidential administrations near the end of a tumultuous month, it's back to celebrating Carole Lombard with our initial post under President Joe Biden. Above is Paramount p1202-884 from early in 1934, and later that year, Carole posed for p1202-967, also very fashionable:



Pretty stylish, and you get even more of a feel in this close-up:



What's on the back? No snipe, alas, but the next best thing -- a stamp showing it's from the vast Lester Glassner collection:



According to the seller, the photo -- a heretofore unseen Lombard p1202 -- is in very fine condition ("flat, bright, clean and glossy, no tears or folds").

So, do you want it in your collection? The price is $179.95, or you can make an offer. To find out more, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOVELY-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ORIGINAL-PARAMOUNT-FASHION-PORTRAIT-PHOTO-GLASSNER-VF-1934/254843863201?hash=item3b55e0c0a1:g:g~wAAOSwccdgDaoV.
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On her 79th angel day



I admittedly haven't written much of late about Carole Lombard and classic Hollywood on this site. It's not health-related -- aside from a weak chest, I've felt fine, and I take every precaution when going outside to protect others as well as myself. It's simply that in the world we're in right now, it's hard to garner enthusiasm to write. Yes, 2020 hit us like a ton of bricks, and it handed a few over to strike us in early 2021.

But I feel compelled to write today, the 79th anniversary of her passing. Since becoming a Lombard fan in the 1980s, this day has always been difficult for me, and the only solace I have is that I'm not alone. Carole's influence has touched millions and has lasted for generations, even though most of those still with us who had actual contact with her met in childhood. Those who worked with Lombard in some professional capacity and remain alive are but a handful today.



Last week, I mused about what Carole would think of us today, especially in light of recent events that called to mind the Depression at its nadir and the unrest millions endured without a pandemic. Part of me fears she'd be upset over what we've done to the nation she gave her life for, that we've let her down. At the same time, I remind myself Lombard was an inherent optimist, and that she showed those qualities to America during the similarly dire period of early January 1942.

"We'll pull through," she would tell us. That gives me hope.



So as we commemorate the lives of Lombard, her mother Elizabeth Peters, MGM press agent Otto Winkler and the other victims of Flight 3, we keep the faith.



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Another animated advance for "Stand Tall!"



If you've wondered where I've been the past week, well, it's been difficult. The photo above is from Jan. 15, 1942 -- Carole Lombard's last full day on earth -- and I can only imagine her reaction to what transpired this past Wednesday. Insurrection is the only applicable word, when the U.S. Capitol was attacked and multiple people died. As an American citizen, I am sickened.

Nevertheless, this morning I received some surprising good news. It was about my romantic comedy "Stand Tall!"



Several weeks ago, it was named a quarter-finalist in the inaugural Stage 32 New Voices in Animation Screenwriting Contest. Today, I received this info...




Yep, there I am, among people who are skilled in writing for animation. What am I doing with them? Advancing one rung in this competition is an achievement. But two? I'm flabbergasted.

Two weeks from today, I'll learn whether I become a finalist with my large-scale tale of 16-foot-plus Vegas waitress-turned-showroom-headliner Colleen Cossitt (https://filmfreeway.com/projects/476988). Keep your fingers crossed. Have a pleasant weekend...and please pray for America.
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A 'Godfrey' gown, described



A photograph of a gown Carole Lombard wore in "My Man Godfrey" now is up for auction at eBay. No, not the iconic gown seen above, but this one...



...not quite as famous, but certainly attractive. Even better, it's described on the back:



Gives you an idea of what this would look like in color. The pic is from Universal, so it explains why designer Travis Banton (a Paramount employee) wasn't named.

It's a glossy single-weight original, another from the George Smoots collection. And it's said to be in excellent condition. Bidding begins at $39.99, with the auction closing at 10:08 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday.

You can place a bid on this item by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-STUNNING-in-EVENING-GOWN-Original-Vintage-1936-PORTRAIT-Photo/373391519725?hash=item56efde6fed:g:BXYAAOSwGJJfxoOz.
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Welcome home, honeymooners



It's July 1931, and newlyweds Carole Lombard and William Powell have returned to Los Angeles from their honeymoon in Hawaii. Before leaving their ship, the couple was photographed by Paramount's Bert Longworth. A pair of close-ups of the Mr. & Mrs.:




And copy from the back of the photo:



Note that Powell had recently left Paramount for Warners, so Lombard gets top billing here. The marriage would last little more than two years, but Carole and Bill would remain friends (and of course team up for the 1936 screwball classic "My Man Godfrey").

This photo is 8 1/8" x 10" and in reasonably good condition with a little corner creasing. One bid, for $4.99, has been made as of this writing. The auction ends at 8:19 p.m. (Eastern) Friday.

If you're a Lombard or Powell fan, this image is right up your alley. If you want to get in on the bidding, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Post-Hawaii-Honeymoon-B-Longworth-Pic-1931/154272562761?hash=item23eb5c7e49:g:6IQAAOSwA0tf78kb.
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Of 2020 and "Twentieth Century"



At times we weren't certain we'd reach 2021, but indeed we have, which gives us plenty of reason to smile, just as Carole Lombard is doing above. But as 2020 further retreats in our figurative rear-view mirror, let's look back at a response to one of her most memorable movies, indeed the one that put her on the map:



A classic early screwball, right? Apparently not in everyone's eyes.

Meet someone who calls herself "Sally Silverscreen" and runs a blog titled "18 Cinema Lane." Not only did she not like "Twentieth Century," but it topped the 10 worst films she saw in 2020 (https://18cinemalane.com/2020/12/31/the-top-10-worst-movies-i-saw-in-2020/). Other "oldies" that made her list include the 1946 Paul Muni-Claude Rains comedy "Angel On My Shoulder" and the 1965 Frank Sinatra-Deborah Kerr sex comedy "Marriage On The Rocks."

What didn't Sally like about "Twentieth Century" (a film I suggested she review after she praised "In Name Only" during January's Lombard Memorial Blogathon, https://18cinemalane.com/2020/01/15/take-3-in-name-only-review/)? Well, she liked the acting, set design and Carole's wardrobe...but on the other hand, she was cool to the subplot about the "repent" stickers, the generally unlikable characters and the abusive relationship between Lombard's Lily Garland and John Barrymore's Oscar Jaffe.

I'm not going to lambaste Sally for her comments -- everyone's entitled to their opinion -- but I will note that "Twentieth Century" is not meant to be realistic, nor are the leads supposed to be sympathetic. They're larger-than-life characters with inflated egos, and we're supposed to be amused by their attempts to bring each other down.

Remember, this film was adapted from a stage play (and later became a Broadway musical), and the milieu may work better in that environment than it does on screen. Also, it was released during the waning months of the pre-Code era; had it been issued a few months later, not only might have Lily not been occasionally featured in her underwear (see below), but its sexual undercurrents likely would have been toned down.



From the review, I sensed Sally was more disappointed than dismissive of "Twentieth Century," and that she'll give Lombard and her work another chance. May I suggest "My Man Godfrey," a true screwball classic which nearly everyone adores, or the underrated and overlooked "Hands Across The Table"? Either are a good way to welcome in 2021.


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