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A Raft rift at Paramount



We know that Carole Lombard and George Raft made two films together, "Bolero" and "Rumba." But did you know they nearly collaborated a third time? Thanks again to G.D. Hamann's Hollywood historical research, we have proof.

It was a film at Paramount that was to be titled "Concertina." Shooting began in February 1936. However, not long afterwards Raft walked off the set. Why?

According to the Los Angeles Evening Herald-Express, Raft had complained to studio officials about the chief cinematographer, Ted Tetzlaff. He was upset, the newspaper reported "because Tetzlaff 'gave Miss Lombard the best of it,' photographically speaking." (Tetzlaff had previously photographed several Lombard films, including "Rumba.") He thus wanted another chief cameraman, but Paramount officials declined.

Raft reportedly told the studio. "You can put the names of any 10 cameramen in a hat and the one you pull out is all right with me, providing it isn't Tetzlaff -- because I won't work with him."

The studio gave Raft a day to change his mind, or else he would be replaced. Raft stood his ground, and the next day he not only lost the acting assignment, but also his Paramount contract.

Raft perhaps hadn't realized how things had changed. Whereas he was given star billing in "Bolero" (made before Carole's breakthrough role in "Twentieth Century"), this new film was primarily a Lombard vehicle.

Raft's replacement? Fred MacMurray, who had worked well with Lombard in "Hands Across The Table" a few months before; moreover, he was an actor who would complement Carole, not try to upstage her. The movie was also renamed "The Princess Comes Across," probably to put more emphasis on Lombard's part. (There is a song called "My Concertina" in the movie.)

Over the years, Raft was known for making poor decisions where his career was concerned. This was one of them.

As for Lombard, she stood clear of the controversy, other than saying she wished the film could begin shooting.

Had things gone as originally planned, Raft, MacMurray and William Powell would have been tied as Lombard's most frequent co-star, with three appearances each.

Incidentally, a few weeks before Lombard was announced as the upcoming star in the film that became "Swing High, Swing Low." Her initial co-star? Not MacMurray, but...Jack Oakie.
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