vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Nursing a role: En route to 'Vigil In The Night'

Now that we're in the second day of National Nurses Week (it ends on Tuesday, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing), it seemed a good to examine Carole Lombard's journey to her role in "Vigil In The Night," her 1940 film about nursing and arguably her strongest dramatic performance (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/1084889.html.

Lombard got on board with the project shortly before she married Clark Gable, as Louella Parsons reported in her syndicated column, shown here in the March 23, 1939 Sacramento Bee:

Note the A.J. Cronin novel it is based on was called "Sisters," but since Warners was planning a film by that title, RKO altered it.

In the pst, we've run several Lombard "guest columns," and I've discovered one more -- for United Press in July 1939. While I'm sure this piece was edited, her writer's voice remains consistent with similar pieces (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/17287.html, https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/377843.html), so I doubt she employed a "ghost."

This ran in the July 6 Tampa Tribune, as she talks about preparing for roles and mentions "Vigil":

Lombard was to research her role by observing student nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital at the western edge of downtown Los Angeles...

...but she and Gable would visit "Good Sam" before July ended to see her best friend Madalynne Field, wife of director Walter Lang, give birth, as Louella wrote in the Syracuse Herald-Journal (see middle column):

A week later, just before Carole was to begin her "studies," she became a patient instead: The Santa Ana (Calif.) Register reported it Aug. 4:

She recuperated in the High Sierras with Gable, as they finally had the honeymoon film work ("Gone With The Wind" for him, "In Name Only" for her) had denied them four months earlier. When she returned to the RKO set, it was September and the world had drastically changed.

A few things had changed on the set, too, as some took advantage of the delay to attend to other things, according to the Press-Register of Roseville, Calif,:

In September, she discussed her recuperation with the Richmond Times-Dispatch...

...was profiled (her roles may have gone dramatic, but not her personality) in the Oct. 1 Fort Worth Star-Telegram...

...and noted her lack of sartorial nursing glamour in the Brooklyn Eagle:

"Vigil In The Night" drew critical acclaim (not enough to vault Lombard into Oscar contention, mind you), but its box-office pull was middling. It simply wasn't the Carole people cared to see.

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