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carole lombard 06

'What A Character' blogathon: Hedda Hopper acted, too

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.16 at 09:49
Current mood: impressedimpressed

"The Racketeer," released in autumn 1929, was the last of three talking features the up-and-coming Carole Lombard made at Pathe. Among her castmates was an actress well into her forties whose tall (5-foot-7) frame made her ideal playing dowagers and society types.

Her name was Hedda Hopper, born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, Pa. The now-divorced wife of stage actor DeWolf Hopper had been acting in films for more than a decade by 1929, but would gain her greatest acclaim -- or strike the most fear -- in a far different field.

The actress turned acerbic Hollywood columnist is the subject of this entry in the 2019 "What A Character!" blogathon, hosted by "Outspoken And Freckled" (https://kelleepratt.com/), "Paula's Cinema Club" (https://paulascinemaclub.com/) and "Once Upon A Screen" (https://aurorasginjoint.com/).

Hopper, daughter of a butcher, ran away from home at age 18, found stage work and married DeWolf in May 1913. (Their one child, William Hopper, would gain fame as investigator Paul Drake on the "Perry Mason" TV series.)

Seeking film work, the Hoppers headed to Hollywood in the late 1910s. There, she found steady supporting work in films such as John Barrymore's 1922 "Sherlock Holmes" (William Powell's film debut) and the 1925 "Raffles." Hopper's calling card were her outrageous hats, a comparatively subtle example of which is below.

Before making "The Racketeer," Hopper appeared in another 1929 movie, the original "The Last Of Mrs. Cheyney." She was a reliable character actress, recognizable enough to appear in a stylish fashion spread (mostly sans hats) for Movie Mirror in February 1932:

But time was working against her, and she knew it. (Hopper, born in 1885, shaved five years off her age for professional purposes.) While she still found work as the '30s went on, she looked for other fields...and one of them was journalism.

The rapid growth of the film industry and public interest in its workings led some actors to pursue side jobs covering Hollywood for newspapers. Eileen Percy moved into that role for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/946397.html). Hopper followed in 1935, writing a weekly column for the Hearst-owned Washington Herald.

While that gig lasted but four months, Hopper made an impression on a rival newspaper with a far more influential forum. The Los Angeles Times, seeking to compete with Hearst's Louella Parsons, hired her and the column kicked off Feb. 14, 1938 -- not long after she filmed an uncredited bit part in Lombard's Technicolor comedy "Nothing Sacred."

Lombard is featured in this behind-the-scenes bit in September 1940 (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/1033341.html):

From all accounts, Carole and Hedda got along, but as Hopper grew into a legitimate rival to Parsons, Lombard and other filmland notables had to tread carefully between them. Had Carole lived past January 1942, one wonders whether their relationship might have changed, as Hopper's far-right views became more strident. (Lombard already saw some of that in her lifetime, as Hopper lambasted Orson Welles for his portrayal of an ersatz Hearst in "Citizen Kane.") Later in the forties, Hopper was an enthusiastic supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Nevertheless, Hopper had many friends in the film industry regardless of ideology. Lucille Ball was one, as was Claudette Colbert. She called the latter "the smartest, canniest, smoothest eighteen-carat lady I've ever seen cross the Hollywood pike. She knows her own mind, knows what's right for her, has a marvelous self-discipline and a deep-rooted Gallic desire to be in shape, efficient and under control."

One of Hedda's later targets was blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, but she didn't always feel that way about him. In 1939, she interviewed him in the wake of his anti-war novel "Johnny Got His Gun," a book Lombard endorsed (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/466092.html).

Many others felt Hopper's vitriol, including Joan Bennett (who sent her a skunk as a gift), Ingrid Bergman and Charles Chaplin. Hedda also unleashed her typewriter at Joseph Cotten and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., while actress Zasu Pitts -- as staunch a Republican as Hopper -- compared the hat-loving columnist to a ferret.

Like Adolphe Menjou, Hopper rarely concealed her racism. Interviewing Sidney Poitier in 1958, she asked him if he could sing, since "so many of your people do." He said no, and Hopper added, "You're the first one I've ever met who says he can't sing."

By this stage of her life, when Hopper appeared on screen or TV, it was as herself, such as in the 1950 Billy Wilder classic "Sunset Boulevard":

Like her gossip contemporaries Parsons and Walter Winchell, Hopper fell out of favor with a younger generation. In 1965, Hopper attended the premiere of "The Sandpiper" with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and loudly complained when seeing Trumbo's screen credit. Taylor turned around and yelled to her, "Hedda, why don't you just shut the f--- up?"

Hopper still wrote a syndicated column several times a week, but came down with double pneumonia and died on Feb. 1, 1966 -- the same day as silent comedy legend Buster Keaton.

For her work in print, she received an honor denied most character actors...a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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A 'Confession' of another rarity

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.15 at 20:26
Current mood: goodgood

Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray are "jailed" in this promo pic for their April 13, 1941 performance of "True Confession" for the Gulf Screen Guild Theater. (The "CBS" above the mock bars gives things away.) Some 3 1/2 years earlier, the film -- Lombard's last at Paramount, and her fourth straight there with MacMurray -- hit theaters. This herald helped publicize it:

It's four pages, measuring 6" x 9", with the back page blank. The second and third pages:

There's some wear and damage you might expect from an item 82 years old, but for the most part it's in pretty good shape.

You can buy it for $39.99 or make an offer. Interested? Visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-JOHN-BARRYMORE-UNA-MERKEL-TRUE-CONFESSION-PRESSBOOK-HERALD/113970590603?hash=item1a892d338b:g:IWsAAOSwCHhdwgqs.

And if you'd like to hear that audio "True Confession," it's at https://free-classic-radio-shows.com/Drama/Screen-Guild-Theater/1939-1941/1941-04-13-ep082-True-Confessions/index.php.

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Silver-screen old-school: Nitrate and noir this weekend

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.14 at 16:47
Current mood: excitedexcited

Imagine seeing Carole Lombard in that ethereal gown from "My Man Godfrey" in a downtown movie palace's huge screen in the fall of 1936. Now imagine that on original nitrate film stock, whose sparkling black-and-white images led to the term "silver screen." (It was also used for color film, including early three-strip Technicolor.)

Unfortunately, such film was terribly volatile, easy to set aflame. Many movies fell victim to fire, including all of Lombard's Fox silents in 1937. While film stock was subsequently preserved on the much safer acetate, it often lacked the crisp, subtle imagery of the original versions.

This weekend in Hollywood, you can see five films from original nitrate prints at one of only four venues in the U.S. legally allowed to show such movies...

...the historic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. The program, titled "Nitrate Nights," promises to be both informative and alluring.

It begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday with this color rarity from British masters Powell and Pressburger:

"Gone To Earth" (1950), a relatively rare Jennifer Jones vehicle. It was released in America as the 82-minute "The Wild Heart," whereas the UK original lasted 110 minutes. This print, from the George Eastman Museum, was donated to the Rochester, N.Y., facility by David O. Selznick's son Daniel in 1999. Jared Case, curator of film exhibitions at the Eastman, will introduce the film.

Two Alfred Hitchcock gems are slated for Saturday.

At 4 p.m., it's "Spellbound" (1945), Hitch at his most surrealistic. starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, not to mention a dream sequence from, of all people, Salvador Dali. That's followed at 7:30 by this gothic gem...

..."Rebecca," Hitchcock's first U.S. project and winner of Best Picture for 1940. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier star. Case and acclaimed director Christopher Nolan will introduce the film.

Two different versions of film noir are on tap Sunday. At 4...

...the terrific "Laura," with Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb and Vincent Price, introduced by Michael Pogorzelski of the Academy Film Archive (it's their print). To close the program, we travel from chic Manhattan to the carny circuit.

"Nightmare Alley" (1947), at 7:30, as '30s stars Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell play against type in the anti-hero postwar environment; both are brilliant. Noted director Alexander Payne will introduce the latter film.

For more information and to order tickets, visit http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/nitrate-nights-2019.

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A large souvenir of 'Lost Hollywood'

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.13 at 11:31
Current mood: artisticartistic

Carole Lombard's glamour and style, expressed so beautifully in this George Hurrell portrait from 1936, was an integral part of an obscure book from more than three decades ago.

It's "Lost Hollywood," by Jack Woody, released in 1987. As part of the campaign, this Lombard poster was issued:

Another view of this image, which measures a considerable 24" x 36":

The poster was printed in Japan using the sheet-fed "gravure" process, noted for its detailed, velvety black and white images. However, its expense led the format to be abandoned in the late 1990s. This is unused, unopened and essentially brand new, according to the seller.

You can buy this poster for $50, or make an offer. Get additional information by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOST-HOLLYWOOD-POSTER-w-actress-CAROLE-LOMBARD-36in-X-24in-Vintage-Glamour/113965863471?hash=item1a88e5122f:g:RqoAAOSwpdpVY3fU.

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A 'Confession': She's in jail

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.12 at 00:38
Current mood: nervousnervous

Carole Lombard's "True Confession" alter ego, Helen Bartlett, is in big trouble, which is why she's currently in jail, or at least the 1937 Paramount version of such (the cinderblocks and faucet give it away). However, her exasperated husband Kenneth Bartlett (Fred MacMurray), tired of his wife's constant fibbing, says he'll try to find a way for Helen to beat a murder charge.

That's the premise behind this publicity still for this comedy, Carole's Paramount swan song (that dress she has on was designed by Edith Head, the only outfit the multiple Oscar-winner would make for Lombard). The image is an original, too; as proof, here's the back of the photo:

See the approval stamp from Joe Breen's office? By the fall of '37, the Production Code had been seriously imposed for more than three years. Paramount wasn't going to send the industry's chief censor suggestive pics of Lombard in lingerie. That wasn't done anymore.

It's an 8" x 10" double-weight in very good condition, with minor creases in the corners. You can bid on this, as the auction's opening bid is $9.99; the auction ends at 9:08 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To place your bid, go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-with-Fred-MacMurray-original-DW-photo-1937-True-Confession-2/233398066883?hash=item36579bdec3:g:79gAAOSw-IhdyMKZ.

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Yet another Columbia gem

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.11 at 11:11
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

On this Veterans Day (Carole Lombard, above, is shown with servicemen she met at the Salt Lake City railroad station in January 1942 en route to Chicago and then her bond rally in Indianapolis), we have a second new Lombard still from Columbia in as many days. Take a look:

A gorgeous, pensive image of Carole, isn't it? This is an 8" x 10" original single-weight in excellent condition (the back is blank) from the George Smoots collection.

Bidding opens at $39.99; the auction will close at 11:29 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To place your bid or find out more, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-in-STYLISH-PENSIVE-PORTRAIT-Original-Vintage-1930s-COLUMBIA-Photo/143418304477?hash=item216465a7dd:g:vWQAAOSweRpdq3Oq.

And to our veterans, regardless of your gender or ethnicity, thank you for your service in war and peace.

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Carole's Columbia curiosity

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.10 at 09:08
Current mood: confusedconfused

Columbia Pictures was never Carole Lombard's home studio, but Harry Cohn's one-time Poverty Row outfit played a crucial role in her career. Her five movies there included the pivotal early screwball classic "Twentieth Century" as well as "Virtue," arguably her best pure pre-Code. (The promotional still above is for another good Columbia vehicle of hers, 1932's "No More Orchids.") You can make a good argument that film for film, Cohn's studio gave her better treatment than Paramount did.

Now, a Lombard publicity pic from Columbia has come out of nowhere -- one I've never seen in my many years of Carole collecting. Even the person posting this on eBay knows nothing about it.

That's definitely Lombard, and the inscription at bottom (similar to what's seen on the pic at the top of this entry) prove its Columbia ties. Beyond that, we have no context. What film is this promoting? One of the three mentioned above? "Brief Moment"? "Lady By Choice"? The photo certainly has its allure, but aside from that, we're drawing blanks. Here's a version I cropped and enlarged a bit:

Perhaps someone specializing in Columbia film still coding, similar to Paramount's "p" player numbers, can fill me in on when this may have been taken. And yes, there are people out there who know such stuff.

In the meantime, the seller tells us it's an 8" x 10" and calls it "stunning." (As if we didn't know.) The auction begins at a mere $1.99, but for a rarity such as this, expect the price to soar significantly before it closes at 11:52 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. If you'd like to bid, go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/8X10-B-W-PHOTO-OF-CAROLE-LOMBARD-STUNNING-I-NEVER-SAW-THIS-POSE-BEFORE-9/193201659255?hash=item2cfbb75d77:g:uyQAAOSwpbhdx5c8.

For now, all we can say is, hail Columbia and hail Carole!

carole lombard 06

Book-ing her forgotten Fox film

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.09 at 09:59
Current mood: curiouscurious

Carole Lombard's time at Fox Pictures normally is defined like this: 16-year-old actress signs with Fox, appears in a few 1925 films (mostly westerns), is dropped by the studio about the same time as her automobile accident, then returns for a one-shot in the 1930 oater "The Arizona Kid" (with Warner Baxter, above).

As it turns out that's not the entire story. Here's proof:

It's a pic of her from "Me -- Gangster" (1928), where she had a bit part. Like Lombard's earlier silents at Fox, it's lost, probably destroyed in the 1937 New Jersey film warehouse blaze.

I'm uncertain how Carole was hired, or if her prior Fox connections had anything to do with it. By early '28, Lombard had settled in at Mack Sennett, who didn't mind if one of his actors found work in a non-comedy elsewhere.

This film had a good pedigree, though.

Its director was Raoul Walsh, whose path would intersect with Lombard's more than a decade later when the now-wealthy actress bought his Encino ranch for her to live with husband-to-be Clark Gable. And it derived from a popular book of the day by Charles Francis Coe, soon transformed into a novel/movie tie-in with a copy now available at eBay:

This was called a "photoplay edition" (not to be confused with the fanmag of the same name) by Grosset & Dunlap, a U.S. publishing house founded in 1898. (Are you a fan of the new "Nancy Drew" series on the CW? That character, along with the Hardy Boys, was in a series of Grosset & Dunlap young-adult novels.) The publisher also specialized in photoplay books.

The book has eight plates from the film, though I'm unsure if any feature Lombard. This edition's binding is secure

Bidding on the book begins at $14.95, with the auction set to close at 4:52 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Monday. If film/book tie-ins are your cup of cinematic tea, this may be right up your alley.

To bid or find out more, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/Me-Gangster-1927-G-D-Photoplay-Book-Charles-Francis-Coe-Ill-Carole-Lombard/193199774553?hash=item2cfb9a9b59:g:68UAAOSwaENdtw7g. And if you land it, you'll be one step ahead of the rest of us in discovering the story of a Lombard film which, barring a miracle discovery, none of us will likely ever see.

carole lombard 05

One step closer to 'reviving' Carole?

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.08 at 18:12
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

Slightly more than a year ago, we noted there could be a way to have Carole Lombard perform more than three-quarters of a century after her death, as rock legend Roy Orbison -- who died in 1988 -- "toured" via hologram (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/941100.html). This year, Orbison repeated the effort, teamed with the hologram of fellow Texas rocker Buddy Holly.

Now, it appears CGI effects will enable another ill-fated Hoosier Hollywood icon to act once more on the big screen...James Dean, who died in a car crash Sept. 30, 1955.

Dean is to "act" in the Vietnam-era action-drama "Finding Jack," about military dogs at the close of the conflict in 1975, more than two decades after the French lost what then was called Indochina. Dean's character is considered a secondary lead (https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/afm-james-dean-reborn-cgi-vietnam-war-action-drama-1252703). Dean's family and estate have given Magic City Films the right to use his likeness for the movie (although another actor will voice the character).

The news has caused a furor in Hollywood, including vehement criticism from actors Chris Evans and Elijah Wood (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/arts/james-dean-cgi-movie.html). But Martin Scorsese's recently released gangster epic "The Irishman" uses CGI to "de-age" several cast members.

With Dean's likeness used in this film -- slated for a November 2020 release -- which other Hollywood giants might undergo the same treatment? Marilyn Monroe? Clark Gable? Carole? What should the ground rules be for their use? This could open the floodgates for both good and ill.

Should actors' families and estates be allowed to license their images for use in films? What restrictions, if any, should be imposed? Let's have your thoughts. While many of us deem Lombard a woman ahead of her time, that doesn't necessarily mean she should cavort with a cast of actors who entered this world years or even decades after she left.

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An autograph, apparently the real deal

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.07 at 07:55
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

When it comes to Carole Lombard autographed items, whether on photos or as standalones, it's always good to enter with a dose of skepticism. So many charlatans are out there passing off phony material.

But I felt pretty confident about this one, and such optimism was confirmed by comments from Lombard and autograph expert Carole Sampeck. "But it's not in her trademark green [fountain-pen] ink!" some of you may think. Here's Sampeck's retort regarding this:

"NO, she did NOT always sign in green ink. Have got blue ink (on some notes and letters) and black on a few contracts."

She also called it a "Great clear signature -- excellent contrast."

As might be expected, this item will cost you a bit -- $1,200, though you can make an offer. Go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-Vintage-Glossy-8X10-Signed-Photograph/143434036475?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160811114145%26meid%3Dd725b2654583455390b5568599befdf4%26pid%3D100667%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D143434036475%26itm%3D143434036475%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2334524&_trksid=p2334524.c100667.m2042 to find out more.

carole lombard 03

A return of 'Girlish Laughter'

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.06 at 09:38
Current mood: gigglygiggly

Long before the #MeToo movement, Carole Lombard had her own way of disarming the Harvey Weinsteins of her era. An assertive attitude, not to mention some of her trademark inventive invective, invariably did the trick.

We've recently learned one of the moguls Lombard worked for, David O. Selznick (above with Carole and Clark Gable), was the roman a clef subject of a long-forgotten satiric novel that's been brought back for these gender-clashing times.

"I Lost My Girlish Laughter," a popular Hollywood satire from 1938, was reissued Tuesday by Vintage Books. As you might expect, "Jane Allen" was a pseudonym -- its actual author was Silvia Schulman, who had ben Selznick's personal secretary in the mid-1930s, with screenwriter Jane Shore. Schulman left Selznick's employ and married screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. (later one of the blacklisted "Hollywood Ten"). Here they are at the time of their engagement in 1937:

The novel's ersatz Selznick, Sidney Brand -- who pursued narrator-secretary Madge Lawrence in a way his real-life equivalent never did around Lombard -- was seeking to secure Gable for a top-tier "women's picture." Sound familiar? The tale is told through letters to home, journal entries and interoffice memos.

But just as the title character of "Citizen Kane" isn't based solely on William Randolph Hearst, so is Brand a composite of moguls. His feverish push to promote a beauty imported from Europe recalls Samuel Goldwyn's vain campaign earlier in the '30s on behalf of Anna Sten as his "answer" to Greta Garbo.

Publisher Bennett Cerf learned of the manuscript while in Hollywood in early 1938, bought the rights and released it later that year. It became a solid seller, as many in the film capital scoured through it. Perhaps Carole owned a copy.

But if Schulman hoped to make a film out of her satire, that was not to be. It hit a bit too close to home for most moguls, and Selznick -- son-in-law to MGM's Louis B. Mayer -- successfully dissuaded any studio from acquiring film rights. However...

...less than three months after Orson Welles' Mercury Players caused national headlines with their "War Of The Worlds" radio broadcast (gaining a sponsor in the process, Campbell's Soup), he and his troupe tried their hand at the Tinseltown satire. Although Welles turned the focus from the secretary to the producer, which sort of blunts its tone to 2019 ears, it remains devastatingly funny. (One of the supporting players here is Ilka Chase, who worked with Lombard in "Fast And Loose.") Note that Tyrone Power (never actually heard, only referred to) substitutes for Gable, and that one of the titles for the fictional epic is "Lady In A Cage" (the title of a 1964 Olivia de Havilland journey into Grand Guignol)! A link to the broadcast is at http://ia800703.us.archive.org/21/items/otr_campbellplayhouse/CampbellPlayhouse39-01-27ILostMyGirlishLaughter.mp3.

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Carole's forgotten fashion designer

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.05 at 19:14
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

When it comes to Carole Lombard and fashion, Travis Banton, her primary designer at Paramount, is usually the first name associated with them, followed by Irene Lentz Gibbons. But neither designed these Lombard cinematic outfits:

This entry is about the man who did. His name was Robert Kalloch, and if he had designed nothing else, this outfit worn by Claudette Colbert in "It Happened One Night" (1934) would cement his place in classic Hollywood lore:

Kalloch worked for Columbia; the first two Lombard pics are from "Twentieth Century," the last two from "Lady By Choice." He helped Harry Cohn's studio step up to the big leagues where Hollywood glamour was concerned.

Kalloch (1893-1947) was born in New York and co-designed with Banton. During the 1920s, he designed for the Ziegfeld Follies and other Broadway revues. In 1933, he became Columbia's first contract costume designer, a step up for the former Poverty Row studio. His work was renowned for its classic, graceful lines.

He took a break from Columbia following the death of his mother in June 1935, but returned the following year to work with the likes of Irene Dunne in "The Awful Truth":

In 1941, Kalloch moved to MGM, succeeding his friend Adrian, who had left the studio to found his own fashion firm. Wartime restrictions forced Kalloch to improvise -- which he often did to great success -- but his lack of experience with period fashions did not suit well with MGM head Louis B. Mayer. He left Metro in 1943, though he freelanced for the studio.

Kalloch was gay and lived with his lover, Joseph Demarais. At 6 a.m. on Oct. 19, 1947, Kalloch died of cardiac arrest. Some nine hours later, Demarais died of alcoholic fatty liver disease. Both deaths were ruled natural.

Those who study fashion history recognize Kalloch's brilliance designing for Lombard (shown below in "Brief Moment") and other stars.

carole lombard 01

Meet '-935' from 1935

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.04 at 19:35
Current mood: impressedimpressed

Discovering a previously unseen Carole Lombard Paramount p1202 portrait is always welcome, and so is this one, p1202-935. While the fur somewhat dates the image, it remains a stunning, stylish pic of Lombard. Even better, we know who photographed it...

...the studio's ace image-taker, Eugene Robert Richee, likely for her latest film, "Rumba." Here is the back, enlarged somewhat:

It's an original 8" x 10" single-weight from the George Smoots collection, in excellent condition. And it can be yours.

Bidding opens at $39.99, with the auction ending at 10:12 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. Want it? Then visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-STYLISH-USE-OF-SHADOW-Original-1935-RICHEE-Stamp-PORTRAIT-Photo/143411522225?hash=item2163fe2ab1:g:LP8AAOSwwzZdo7cs.

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Beating the 'Drums' for Sabu

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.03 at 08:27
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Carole Lombard made an ideal ambassador for Hollywood when people from other cultures visited the film capital, as was the case here when some women from India dropped by the Paramount studio in the mid-1930s. Later in the decade, now at Selznick International, she did likewise with a young South Asian star the studio had just signed, Sabu:

We've run those three photos before, but the bottom pic now has a snipe in the back, albeit not in English:

This looks to have been taken in the fall of 1938, when John Cromwell was directing Carole and James Stewart in "Made For Each Other" at Selznick. (Sabu's 1938 film "Drums" wasn't released in North America until 1939.) The imprint on the back, minus a zip code, indicates Larry Shean acquired this in the early 1960s at the latest.

The photo's condition or size isn't listed, but the seller is asking $225 for it, although you also can make an offer. Learn more by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-ORIG-1930-S-VINTAGE-CANDID-PHOTO-THIS-IS-PHOTO-5/383248098802?hash=item593b5de5f2:g:eXQAAOSw2WhdvvA5.

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Lombard and Lubitsch meet Bancroft and Brooks

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.02 at 09:01
Current mood: curiouscurious

While people complain about movie remakes, they're nothing new -- even several Carole Lombard films have underwent the process, including the pointless 1957 "My Man Godfrey." (David Niven, the new Godfrey, had a supporting role in a 1938 "Lux Radio Theater" adaptation of the original.)

Another remake of a Lombard classic came in the '80s, when Mel Brooks -- no stranger to lampooning Nazis, as his various versions of "The Producers" attest -- tried his hand at Ernst Lubitsch's dark comedy "To Be Or Not To Be." (My Facebook friend Elaine Ballace has worked on Brooks films and adores him.)

Made more than four decades after the original, with Brooks himself and real-life wife Anne Bancroft in the leads, it necessarily lacks the contemporary Lubitsch gravitas, but is fine on its own merits. In fact, Charles Durning gained an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor.

That version came out in 1983, but apparently didn't reach Hungary -- then in the latter days of the Soviet bloc -- until 1985. A magazine discussed both the original and remake with a cover story:

("Lenni vagy nem lenni" literally translates into "To be or not to be.")

Inside, a two-page spread on Brooks' version, including an extensive interview with him (in Hungarian; though Lombard's name isn't mentioned, I would like to see this translated):

This 48-page magazine is up for auction at eBay. Bidding begins at $3, and the auction ends at 6:42 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. If you'd like to bid, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-MEL-BROOKS-ANNE-BANCROFT-Hungarian-magazine/174083777697?hash=item288833a4a1:g:IBUAAOSwX~dWjp6a.

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A mother and daughter's special ties

Posted by vp19 on 2019.11.01 at 14:44
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

We've often discussed the bond between Carole Lombard (born Jane Alice Peters) and her mother, Elizabeth "Bess" Peters. Mother not only infused her daughter with a confidence that paid off in the rough-and-tumble world of entertainment, but a feminist, I-can-do-anything sensibility that enabled Lombard to inspire generations of women through life in the public eye.

It's also good to acknowledge others' perspective on this subject, which is what I'm doing today.

Classic film historian Lara Gabrielle Fowler has run the site backlots.net for many years, and is progressing on a biography of Marion Davies that promises much new information on the popular (and often misunderstood) actress of the 1920s and '30s. The other day, she wrote an entry on Carole's relationship with her mother (https://backlots.net/2019/10/29/strong-and-tender-the-story-of-carole-lombard-and-bess-peters/?fbclid=IwAR0rktZWmHAD8mrRXwgdxpNMBT3qmSd1_99II9VJ1mHC_Qk-eDbSbnnr5cw), and it makes for thoughtful reading,

Carole rarely talked about her family's private life, but while Elizabeth and Frederic Peters Sr. were one of Fort Wayne's leading families, an elevator accident he suffered prior to their marriage had long-term ramifications. He developed severe headaches from his leg injury, and apparently became violent and abused his wife. As Lombard told an interviewer in 1934, "I haven't had an easy time. I had a horrible childhood because my parents were dreadfully unhappy in their marriage. It left scars on my mind and on my heart." While the Peters had a dream home on the exterior, in one of Fort Wayne's choicest neighborhoods, inside life often was a nightmare.

While they never divorced, it was agreed that Bess should take their three children on an extended vacation, and so they left for Los Angeles in October 1915. Their planned stay was six months, but they discovered they enjoyed southern California as Fred's health continued to deteriorate. Here's Jane Alice oceanside with her brothers, probably taken soon after their arrival (perhaps by their mother):

The LA Jane followed much the same route she had in Fort Wayne. Fowler wrote, "Jane thrived in California, her tomboyish energy and skill in sports earning her the respect of the neighborhood boys. Her tree-climbing and fence-scaling ruined her clothes, but Bess never discouraged her from it. In a Screenland profile, Bess' parenting style was described as '100 years ahead of her time.' She cheered her daughter on in anything she tried, and encouraged her to find her own path, wherever that might lead her."

From her final years in Fort Wayne, Jane had been mesmerized by movies and wanted to become an actress, just like the ladies she saw on the screen. Bess -- who had acted in her younger days -- supported her but also gave her space; she was no stage mother by any means. Close, they saw or phoned each other nearly every day. Bess stood by Carole when she married William Powell in June 1931...

...welcoming her back from Nevada following Carole's divorce from Powell in August 1933...

...and getting a second son-in-law in Clark Gable in March 1939:

Fate would have tragic plans for this special bond between mother and daughter. As Adela Rogers St. Johns wrote soon after both died in January 1942, "Someone said to me this morning that it seemed so awful that her mother should have been killed, too. I can't feel that, knowing them. It would have been so awful for the one that was left."

carole lombard halloween 00

That other time Washington baseball won it all

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.31 at 12:12
Current mood: giddygiddy

If you woke up this morning believing you've stumbled into some bizarre alternate universe, you have not. Washington is world champion of baseball. Actually. And it has nothing to do with Halloween. Today's Washington Post covers prove it:

The only other time D.C. claimed major league baseball supremacy, baseball fanatic Carole Lombard was around to experience it. That was in October 1924, soon after Jane Alice Peters, now at least professionally known as Lombard, had turned 16 and sought work in motion pictures.

Here's how the Post covered that triumph back in the day:

Of course, in October 1924, Carole, Jane, whatever you wanted to call her, was in Los Angeles. Chances are, however, she was rooting for Washington in the fall classic; nearly everyone was. There were several reasons. Washington's opponents, the National League champion New York Giants, were continuing Gotham's recent dominance of the World Series. They had faced the rival (and then-upstart) New York Yankees in the past three Series, beating them in 1921 and '22 before the Yankees -- formerly tenants of the Giants at the Polo Grounds -- at last won their first world title at their new home in the Bronx, Yankee Stadium. So people outside of NYC had tired of the town. (Things got even more lopsided from 1949 to 1956, when the Yankees, Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers won eight straight World Series among them, and neither non-NYC representative -- the 1950 Phillies and the 1954 Indians -- even won a game.)

Another reason: Walter Johnson, arguably the greatest pitcher in history.

Johnson debuted with the Senators in 1907, beloved by the baseball community, but his D.C. teams rarely contended. He won 23 games in 1924, and this seemingly was his lone chance at appearing in a World Series. Unfortunately, the Giants beat him in games 1 and 5 to take a 3-games-to-2 lead, as the teams went back to Griffith Stadium for games 6 and 7 (if necessary).

The Senators made game 7 necessary with a 2-1 triumph in game 6. Johnson didn't start the deciding game, but came on in the ninth with the score tied at 3. He went four scoreless innings, and Washington pushed across the winning run in the 12th. America celebrated.

How did Carole follow the Series? Radio was coming into its own by 1924, and the World Series was broadcast, but at the time coast-to-coast hookups weren't really possible, and networks hadn't been invented. Not until the mid-'30s did Los Angeles and Hollywood blossom into radio hubs.

It's possible she stood outside a newspaper office and watched play-by-play relayed onto a large board displaying the action. That's what happened in St. Paul, Minn., in 1914, when the Pioneer Press covered the Boston Braves' stunning upset of the Philadelphia Athletics:

So more than likely, Lombard followed the Series through newspapers -- and here's how the Los Angeles Times, the region's dominant paper, covered it. First, the front page:

Then, on the front of the sports section:

So did this mark the end of the baseball season? Well, maybe back east it did, but the mild western climate enabled the Pacific Coast League to play 200-game schedules lasting into November. The following page that day describes PCL action:

Of course, much more was going on -- after all, 1924 was an election year. Here's the latest on the race among Republican president Calvin Coolidge, Democrat compromise candidate John W. Davis and the Progressives' Wisconsin native Robert La Follette:

The Literary Digest poll was the fivethirtyeight.com of its day, followed and respected -- and promoted by the magazine:

In 1936, it predicted that the GOP's Alf Landon would defeat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt, but instead FDR won in a landslide. That more or less doomed both the poll and the publication.

What was playing at the movies in October 1924? Let's take a look -- Harold Lloyd's out with his latest:

And the Times rotogravure page blends Hollywood with canines (remember, this was when Rin Tin Tin and his ilk were at their peak of popularity):

During the 33 years Washington was without baseball, I campaigned hard for that to change, despite the scores of naysayers who believed it could never thrive in that town. But in September 2004, the moribund Montreal Expos moved south for the 2005 season. I attended their first regular-season game, a road loss to the now arch-rival Phillies, their initial home game at RFK Stadium (a victory over Arizona) and the first-ever game at Nationals Park (won on a walk-off homer by Ryan Zimmerman, who homered in this year's Series).

If you're part of the D.C. diaspora as I am, or simply want to read more about the Nationals' incredible October -- a month that will forever change the perception of not only the franchise, but baseball in Washington -- here are some links:

* The game 7 story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/10/30/world-series-nationals-astros-game-seven/

* Columnist Barry Svrluga on the Nats' remarkable resiliency: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/for-world-champion-nats-the-team-that-wouldnt-die-there-was-no-doubt-just-hope/2019/10/31/6a758d56-fb4b-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html

* Renowned baseball writer Thomas Boswell wonders whether some of the Nats pulled a Joe Hardy to pull off this miracle: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-magic-world-series-win/2019/10/31/67671ab2-fb4b-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html

* The championship parade, Washington's second in as many years (the first was when the Capitals captured the Stanley Cup in June 2018) will take place Saturday: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/nationals-championship-parade-set-for-saturday-in-washington-dc/2019/10/31/476640d0-fba0-11e9-8190-6be4deb56e01_story.html

Enjoy, Washington. The fight is finished, and you're victorious.

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Learning more about an Olympian endeavor

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.30 at 07:40
Current mood: productiveproductive

Less than a week ago, we reported an academically-oriented Carole Lombard book, "Becoming Carole Lombard," will be released in February (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/1040968.html). At the time, I noted that I was hoping for a response from author Olympia Kiriakou...but was unaware that nearly 3 1/2 years ago, she had hoped for a response from me.

Her recent response via Messenger was not the first time she had contacted me. On June 13, 2016 -- the ninth anniversary of the founding of Carole & Co. -- she had sent me this:

6/13/16, 6:39 AM

Hi Vincent, my name's Olympia and I'm in the final stages of editing my dissertation on Carole Lombard. My research focuses on her performative diversity beyond screwball comedy, which unfortunately seems to be severely understudied in film scholarship and by academics (as is Lombard more generally). I've gone to great lengths to focus on her silent films, her early sound films and her star persona in her early years at Paramount, as well as her brief foray into melodrama in her later career and her proto-feminist politics.

She's a fascinating and complex star, and seemed like a compassionate and down-to-earth human being. The goal of my dissertation is to bring more attention to Lombard in film studies. Throughout my education, I've yet to encounter even one reference to Lombard in any of my film courses which is a shame, and I hope that when my dissertation is published it can be used as a resource in courses that deal with American film history, classical Hollywood and stardom so that more young people can discover Lombard.

I've been reading Carole & Co. for several years and am constantly impressed and inspired by the posts on your site. One thing has eluded me in my research: the specifics of her automobile accident. I'm generally clear about the details of the crash and the subsequent series of events, but no source I've consulted seems to be set on a date. I've seen 1925, 1926 and as late as 1929 which is obviously incorrect. I've gone by 1926 in my chapter, but was wondering if you have any further information or could point me in the direction about a more precise date?

All the best,

Why didn't I respond at the time? Despite the site's ninth birthday, June 2016 was not a happy month for me. I had lost my apartment at the start of the year, spent three weeks in Florida with my brother, then returned to Los Angeles to effectively start all over again. With next to no material goods in my possession (my nephew had stored many of my items, but I've been unable to track him down since early 2016), I rotated from shelter to shelter around Skid Row and south LA. Things are slightly better now -- I'm on Social Security benefits, and have been in group or transitional housing since mid-2017 -- but still can't find work. While I noted Carole & Co.'s anniversary on the 13th, the nearly-daily flow of entries had dwindled to three for that entire month.

Had I known about it at the time, I surely would've responded. I've long believed Lombard's feminist approach to life and her career beyond screwball stardom indeed has been woefully ignored by academia compared to, say, Katharine Hepburn. (Carole's relatively brief life and lack of an elite education compared to Bryn Mawr alumna Hepburn no doubt were among the reasons.) Getting Lombard more attention from film studies is a worthy goal.

So Olympia, my apologies, and specifics about the where and when of Carole's automobile accident remain a mystery. Had it never happened, Lombard may have achieved more success in silents, but would she have had the impetus to learn the skills that paid off in 1930s stardom? Maybe, but relying upon her looks -- something denied her as a result of the accident -- might've worked against her in the long run, and her transition to talking pictures could have been far tougher. Here's how she looked at Fox before the crash, which caused significant facial injury:

Here's her long-delayed recent follow-up. Kiriakou now is a visiting instructor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton:

FRI 1:37 PM

Hi Vincent,
My colleague who runs the FAU SCMS twitter account told me that you wanted to get in touch with me about my forthcoming book. My social media presence is at a minimum so apologies if it’s taken a while to get back to you! I’ve been a longtime fan of Carole & Co. so it’s nice to finally connect with you. The project began as my PhD dissertation, and I later developed it further into a book length manuscript. It’s more academic than popular biography, but I’ve tried to keep the writing style as accessible as possible for readers who aren’t in the field.

It's a thrill to learn I have fans in academia, and look forward to see this dissertation-turned-manuscript. Its list price is $120, not unusual for academic books. I later learned from her that Carole & Co. is cited as a source, repeating the honor it received in Michelle Morgan's more popular-oriented volume "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star."

I hope "Becoming Carole Lombard" finds its way to many university and research libraries, including the Academy of Motion Pictures' Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills (below) -- and also hope to soon arrange a chat with the author to learn more about this title.

carole lombard 02

No longer an 'Exclusive'

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.29 at 04:35
Current mood: confusedconfused

Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray had effective screen chemistry; in fact, from mid-1935 on, she would have no other leading man at Paramount (four films together). So it might be understood why the studio thought of them as a sort of team, possibly along the lines of what Lombard's ex, William Powell, was achieving alongside Myrna Loy over at MGM in Culver City.

But Carole -- who personally liked MacMurray -- apparently had different ideas. This picture, Paramount p1202-1397 from fall 1936, may explain things:

OK, not the pic, but the snipe on the back, shown here and in enlarged form:

We're not referring to her wardrobe, but to this property titled "Exclusive." Lombard never made a film by that name...but MacMurray did:

It turns out Lombard declined to make the movie, and a young actress from the University of Washington named Frances Farmer took her role (her only teaming with MacMurray). It's a relatively little-seen newspaper thriller released in August 1937, apparently with some comedic elements but not in the vein of "Libeled Lady," "Love Is News" or that ilk.

Paramount p1202-1397 is an 8" x 10" vintage original from the noted George Smoots collection. It's a glossy single-weight in excellent condition, and is up for auction at eBay.

Bidding begins at $39.99, with the auction slated to close at 9:14 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. If you'd like to place a bid, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Original-Vintage-1936-PARAMOUNT-PORTRAIT-Photo/143406224245?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160811114145%26meid%3D9418c69a51394a8fa2cd13252658fede%26pid%3D100667%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D293287283024%26itm%3D143406224245%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2334524&_trksid=p2334524.c100667.m2042.

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Clark and Carole show their Racing Form

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.28 at 00:50
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

Did horses help bring Carole Lombard and Clark Gable together? Maybe so. Each had fondness for the equines, both on the ranch and at the track.

We're a few days away from the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita, the legendary and iconic venue in Arcadia that's been immersed in controversy over the past year after several dozen horses have had to be euthanized after either competing or training on the track. Consequently, some groups have called for the end of thoroughbred racing. No doubt you'll hear more about this topic as the week progresses.

The Daily Racing Form is the bible for bettors, as it provides sundry information about the horses and jockeys slated for each race. In 1938, it ran a pair of pictures with Gable and Lombard ties.

It shows Clark and Carole with two foals from broodmares. One was Gable's own filly Beverly Hills, which the Racing Form charitably said "had fair success" as a two- and three-year-old. (I'm not sure she ever won a race.) I've never seen this pic before. The photo, clipped and part of a scrapbook for many years, measures 5" x 6" and is said to be in "nice condition."

Bids open at $9.99, with the auction closing at 9:15 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. You can bid or find out more at https://www.ebay.com/itm/CLARK-GABLE-CAROLE-LOMBARD-photo-original-1938-Daily-Racing-Form/303328604965?hash=item469fcb3325:g:ebUAAOSwUJNdq8w3.

The other image doesn't show the couple, but a horse named for them. Yes, I said them.

Meet Clarcarole, a brown filly named for the duo. At the time it was photographed, it had won about $5,000 in purses (better than Beverly Hills?) and apparently had raced at Santa Anita. It's also 5" x 6", from a scrapbook, and is in nice condition.

Bidding opens at $6.99, and you don't have much time; the auction ends at 6:25 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. Place your bid at https://www.ebay.com/itm/CLARCAROLE-photo-original-1938-Daily-Racing-Form-CLARK-GABLE-CAROLE-LOMBARD/293287283024?_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D60709%26meid%3Dffd5bd35ef324012a95d154b35f92ec8%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26mehot%3Dco%26sd%3D303328604965%26itm%3D293287283024%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2047675&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851.

Place your bets on this legendary couple who loved the horses.

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Two photographic trips 'From Hell To Heaven'

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.27 at 00:35
Current mood: draineddrained

"From Hell To Heaven" ia yet another indictment of Paramount's use of Carole Lombard. One would like to enter a time machine, journey back to early 1933, march through the famed Bronson gate, find an executive and tell him, "Do you realize what you have here?" They wouldn't for another few years, as Carole slogged her way through tawdry features such as these.

The film is sort of a programmer version of MGM's "Grand Hotel" from the previous year -- set at a resort on the eve of a major thoroughbred race -- only minus the star power. Lombard and Adrienne Ames are this film's Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, while David Manners and Jack Oakie pinch-hit for Lionel and John Barrymore. That's as far as I'll take the analogy; "Grand Hotel" won a Best Picture Oscar, while "From Hell To Heaven" is barely remembered.

However, two stills from the movie have surfaced on eBay. First, here's Lombard, Ames and Manners at the track:

It's an original linen-backed photo measuring 7 1/4" x 9 1/4", without borders after trimming, and is in very good condition. Bids begin at $9.99, and the auction closes at 6:06 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. Interested in bidding? Then go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-Adrienne-Ames-David-Manners-ORIG-1933-photo-Hell-to-Heaven/372812493033?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160811114145%26meid%3Da72c6ab1f2ba4c39bea3db6f902b7e23%26pid%3D100667%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D372812493033%26itm%3D372812493033%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2334524&_trksid=p2334524.c100667.m2042.

The other pic is a posed publicity still of Lombard, Ames, Oakie and Sydney Blackmer, as well as a quasi-closeup where Oakie's omitted:

The back shows it's from the Lester Glassner collection, and apparently was used in Screen Romances magazine:

Can't read the inscriptions? Let's enlarge the top and bottom halves:

It's a single-weight, measuring 8" x 10 1/8", in very good to fine condition. You can buy this straight up for $59.95 or make an offer. Get additional information by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-ORIGINAL-PHOTO-FROM-HELL-TO-HEAVEN-PRE-CODE-AMES-OAKIE-1933/254399947707?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160811114145%26meid%3Da72c6ab1f2ba4c39bea3db6f902b7e23%26pid%3D100667%26rk%3D4%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D372812493033%26itm%3D254399947707%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2334524&_trksid=p2334524.c100667.m2042.

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Tomorrow, Carole fashionably walks like an Egyptian

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.26 at 10:06
Current mood: excitedexcited

To Carole Lombard fans in southern California (and there are many): Tomorrow at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, see two of her best performances -- "Virtue," left, and "Twentieth Century" -- in the fifth of six of the series "The Style Of Sin: Pre-Code Film With Kimberly Truhler," hosted by my Facebook friend and fashion maven.

We mentioned this series when it was announced in June (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/1006492.html), and now the Lombard leg is here (as can literally be seen above, although the image is flipped). It had initially been set for sometime in September, but anytime Carole comes on the big screen -- particularly at a venue as historic as the Egyptian, which she certainly visited during her lifetime -- any wait is worth it.

Adding to the allure will be Truhler's cogent comments on Lombard's considerable influence on fashion, especially within the context of the pre-Code era. As we've previously noted, Carole's relative late emergence as a top-tier star has meant she isn't as associated with pre-Code as other noted actresses.

But "Virtue" -- her first of five loan-outs to Columbia -- is increasingly praised for its view of gender roles, not to mention her tough performance as a former streetwalker who can't escape her past. Pat O'Brien co-stars as her cabbie husband. The other film on the double bill, "Twentieth Century," has long been known as Lombard's breakthrough movie...

...as she plays a former lingerie salesgirl turned Broadway star gone Hollywood. Her now-inflated ego tangles with John Barrymore's similarly bombastic stage producer who's pleading to win her back. While "Twentieth Century" is rightfully deemed among the first examples of screwball comedy, it was released in April 1934 -- three months before the Production Code was sternly imposed -- and is among a handful of films to overlap both eras.

The event begins at 1 p.m., with the films starting at 2. For tickets, go to https://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/virtue-twentieth-century?fbclid=IwAR1zlOl6ywxnUpV1TJXXj6-_O8-A7K1Z16FRPx8nl4hExGHH8hMRnuxpu14. See you there.

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Darryl F. Zanuck on the star-making machinery, 1936

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.25 at 07:29
Current mood: curiouscurious

Carole Lombard and William Powell were dazzling theater audiences in Universal's "My Man Godfrey" when a mogul from a rival studio cited them as part of a 1936 trade paper article.

20th Century-Fox's Darryl F. Zanuck wrote a piece for the super-sized sixth anniversary edition of The Hollywood Reporter that Oct. 5. His topic: "Where are the stars of tomorrow?"

Zanuck writes Powell and Lombard (the latter of whom he never worked with) can do "terrific" business in "excellent pictures," as can Powell's best-known partner, Myrna Loy (here linked with Warner Baxter), Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Loretta Young and several others. But he limits foolproof stars -- actors who are box-office whether the film is good or bad -- to a precious few: his own Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, red-hot Robert Taylor, Norma Shearer, Fred Astaire and Claudette Colbert.

He adds other than Astaire, the only real new star attraction brought to the screen was Simone Simon.

A little bias on Zanuck's behalf, to be sure; he had signed French actress Simon the previous year and now was hyping her in the wake of her Fox debut, "Girls' Dormitory." In 1937 she starred with up-and-coming James Stewart in a remake of Janet Gaynor's "Seventh Heaven." Simon achieved some stardom, but never reached the top tier in the U.S. It wouldn't be until moving to RKO in the 1940s that she gained critical acclaim with the likes of "Cat People" (1942).

If you can get past that, Zanuck has some cogent things to say about creating stars -- and it should be remembered that in 1936, much of the movie business was still struggling to escape the Depression. (That piece on the jump page about film stars and radio, written when radio was making a splash in Hollywood, invites an exploration for more.)

Read a reprint of Zanuck's piece at https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/darryl-zanuck-asked-1936-are-stars-tomorrow-1248553.

carole lombard 04

'Becoming Carole Lombard' will be coming next February

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.24 at 18:18
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

Carole Lombard is shown at the Biltmore Country Club in Miami in early 1935, where she briefly stayed before visiting the Cuban capital of Havana. It so happens that two instructors with ties to south Florida colleges have made some thoughtful research on Lombard.

Back in 2008, Christina Lane of the University of Miami wrote a piece, "The Outspoken Politics Of Carole Lombard," examining her oft-ignored role as a proto-feminist (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/157005.html). And we have just learned that this February, Bloomsbury's academic publishing wing is releasing a book from Olympia Kiriakou, a visiting instructor at nearby Florida Atlantic University who previously worked with the Toronto International Film Festival...

Here's more about the upcoming volume:

About "Becoming Carole Lombard"
"Becoming Carole Lombard: Stardom, Comedy and Legacy" is a historical critique of the development and reception of Carole Lombard's stardom from the classical Hollywood period to present day. Based on original archival research, Olympia Kiriakou combines theoretically informed textual analyses of Lombard's performances and star image across different media (biographies, publicity materials, photography and film) with a critical engagement of the cultural, economic, social and industrial conditions that shaped her stardom.

Sitting at the intersection of feminist film theory, star studies and comedy theory, this work presents Lombard as a case study to challenge the screwball canon and existent academic discourse about female physical comedy and the alleged “delicate” female body. In doing so, it formulates a new historical approach to understanding gender, femininity and identity in Hollywood comedies of the 1930s. Moreover, this is the first research of its kind to offer a comprehensive understanding of Lombard's stardom beyond her associations with the screwball comedy genre.

Table of contents
Introduction: Carole Lombard, The Screwball Girl?
1. "Carole of the Curves" gets Svelt: Carole Lombard Before Screwball Comedy
2. The Queen of Screwball Comedy
3. "Goodbye Carole 'Screwball' Lombard; Hello Mrs. 'Ma' Gable": Gender, Identity and the Classical Hollywood Star Couple
4. Lombard Gets Dramatic: Melodrama, Domesticity and Gendered Performance
5. "If Women Ruled the World": Lombard as Proto-Feminist
Conclusion: Lombard's Legacy (1942-present)

“A riveting, insightful, meticulously researched and highly enjoyable book about an essential Hollywood film star, 'Becoming Carole Lombard' proves that Lombard was much more than just 'the Screwball Girl.' Olympia Kiriakou traces Lombard's shape-shifting star persona across diverse screen genres, revealing the profound historiographic value of her tragically curtailed career for feminist film theory, comedy and performance studies, and the history of American film culture.” -– Maggie Hennefeld, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

A head shot of Kiriakou, the author:

To say I'm looking forward to this book would be an understatement. But before you rush out to order your copy, a caveat: This is seemingly an academic-oriented volume, designed for libraries, both collegiate and general. Bloomsbury is selling the hardcover version for $108, a PDF or ePUB eBook for $86.40. If you want a copy, visit https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/becoming-carole-lombard-9781501350740/.

I wish I knew more about this book, and hope to learn more; I've left a phone message for the author and hope for a response soon. It's always good to see Lombard profiled by academia, yet more proof she was a woman ahead of her time whose feminist influence extends far beyond her massive talent as a comedic and dramatic actress.

carole lombard 03

Should a film poke fun at the Fuhrer?

Posted by vp19 on 2019.10.23 at 14:15
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

How soon they forget! Some 77 years after Carole Lombard starred in Ernst Lubitsch's landmark dark comedy "To Be Or Not To Be," some are wondering whether Nazis (in particular Adolf Hitler) should be made fun of today.

A new film -- one adored by audiences, less so by critics -- has sparked debate and drawn ire.

"Jojo Rabbit" is a weird blend of coming-of-age story and anti-Nazi satire, as a 10-year-old boy and member of the Hitler Youth has an imaginary best friend...none other than the Fuhrer himself.

The pseudo-Hitler -- a substitute father figure -- is portrayed by the film's director, Taika Waititi (who's half-Jewish). Jojo, the child, desperately wants to be a good Nazi, and uses the imaginary Adolf to that end. But he's forced to re-evaluate matters when he discovers his family is hiding a Jewish girl from authorities.

Critical reaction has been mixed, although Peter Travers in Rolling Stone liked it with some reservations. But it was very popular at last month's Toronto International Film Festival...so much so it won the People's Choice Award. Last year's winner? "Green Book," which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Poking fun at Hitler and his henchmen certainly isn't meant to condone the suffering of the millions the Nazis murdered -- Jews, gypsies, those deemed mentally defective, that era's equivalent of the LGBT population, and countless others. But other filmmakers and entertainers took a stand against Nazism before or during the war, a time when its outcome was in doubt.

"To Be Or Not To Be," which opens with an actor portraying Hitler walking the streets of Warsaw, surely is among the best-known examples of lampooning Nazis -- as Lubitsch diminishes the Nazis by emphasizing their banality -- but there are so many others. The awards site "Gold Derby," which deems "Jojo Rabbit" a potential contender in no less than 11 Oscar categories, noted Lubitsch's film among several others (https://www.goldderby.com/article/2019/jojo-rabbit-comic-hitler-three-stooges-mel-brooks-charlie-chaplin/), dating back to the 1933 Warners cartoon "Bosko's Picture Show."

* "You Nazty Spy," the Three Stooges (1940) -- The first of two Stooges Nazi short parodies, this was released in January 1940, four months after war began in Europe and several months before Charles Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" (in the midst of production). Moe is of course the ersatz Hitler, Curly portrays a Hermann Goering type and Larry is cast as a comic Joseph Goebbels, rulers of the fictional Moronica. They wind up in the lion's den, as lions' dinner. The following year, the Stooges did a followup of sorts, "I'll Never Heil Again."

* "The Great Dictator," Charles Chaplin (1940) -- "He talks..." was the selling point here, as Chaplin made his first foray into full-fledged dialogue in the dual role of a fictional Hitler (whose actual self was four days younger than Chaplin) and a Jewish barber along the lines of Charlie's iconic tramp character. One of his most beloved and moving films, it concludes with him -- as the barber suddenly and mistakenly thrust into the dictator's role -- calling for world peace.

" "Der Fuehrer's Face," Donald Duck (1943) -- Donald Duck as a Nazi? Don't worry, it's all a nightmare (although this Academy Award-winning animated short wouldn't be released to home video until 2004). The duck believes he's working at a Nazis munitions plant against his will until he thankfully discovers otherwise. An anti-Nazi propaganda song by this title, popularized by Spike Jones, became a massive wartime hit.

Years after the war's end, Mel Brooks parodied Nazi absurdity in "The Producers" (1968) and a 1983 remake of "To Be Or Not To Be." But the films cited above didn't have that luxury.

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