vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Lombard's most obscure what-might-have-been

It's Jan. 12, 1942, and Carole Lombard, preparing to board the "City of Los Angeles" at Union Station in LA, is pictured with Treasury Department official Howard D. Mills before heading east for her ill-fated war bond rally. But four days earlier, she had made the papers regarding a never-made project I had never heard of until several days ago. (Thank you, Brian Lee Anderson.)

The scoop came from Los Angeles Times entertainment writer Edwin Schallert on Jan. 8:

Edward Small was a notable film and TV producer whose movies included Claudette Colbert's "I Cover The Waterfront" (1933) and "The Count Of Monte Cristo" (1934).

Was "But Is It Love?" indeed "Carole Lombard's own story"? Perhaps she came up with the story...

...but apparently she didn't write it.

These reports are from 1947, and from knowing how Lucille Ball -- then a second-tier film star with some previous screen success -- idolized Lombard, we can be sure this was a project she was eager to make. I have no idea why it never came off, and at least now we know it was a romantic comedy.

Shed no tears for writer Helen Deutsch (1906-1992), however. While she was unknown during Lombard's lifetime, save for this September 1941 mention in the Times,

by 1947 she had written Elizabeth Taylor's breakout 1944 hit "National Velvet," and in '47 wrote the Marlene Dietrich vehicle "Golden Earrings." Future successes included "The Loves Of Carmen" (1948), "KIng Solomon's Mines" (1950), "Lili" (1953), "I'll Cry Tomorrow" (1955), "Forever, Darling" (1956, a Ball project that was filmed) and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (1964). Deutsch's last screenplay was the camp classic "Valley Of The Dolls" (1967).

For "Lili," Deutsch won a Golden Globe award for best screenplay and also was nominated for an Oscar. She also co-wrote its hit song, "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo."

I'd love to uncover the "But Is It Love?" script, explore any possible Lombard connections and wonder whether it could be adapted into a contemporary rom-com.

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