July 6th, 2007

carole lombard 04
  • vp19

Lombard on film, online

Thanks to technology, you can now watch Carole Lombard cavort on your computer. And thanks to lapsed copyrights, you can do it in the comfort of knowing you're not breaking the law.

Four of Lombard's public domain films can be viewed in their entirety at a site called "Filmschatten." Two of them, "My Man Godfrey" and "Nothing Sacred," are among her legendary performances. A third, "Made For Each Other," isn't quite as well known, and it sharply veers from semi-comedy to melodrama in its final third, but it's nonetheless worth seeing Lombard's chemistry with a young James Stewart, in a movie from his breakout year of 1939. (They never again teamed up on film, but did work together again on radio. See the earlier entry, "Lombard on the radio," for more.)

The fourth is an intriguing curio, "The Racketeer," released on Pathe in the fall of 1929, not long after Carole's 21st birthday. She's okay as the female lead, although it's evident that everyone involved is still feeling their way around the talking-picture business (for Lombard, it's a far superior vehicle to the creaky "High Voltage," issued a few months earlier). When Turner Classic Movies had a day full of Lombard films last August, "Racketeer" kicked things off, but if you weren't willing to get up at 6:15 a.m. to see it, here's your second chance.

As stated, these are public domain films, so the image and sound quality is variable. If you want to see "Godfrey" in its full streamlined splendor, try the Criterion Collection version, which has an array of extras. As for "Nothing Sacred," Lombard's lone three-strip Technicolor feature, it was restored by UCLA a few years back, but I'm not sure whether that version has ever been issued on DVD.

Anyway, here's the site:

http://filmschatten.blogspot.com/search/label/Carole%20Lombard

Perhaps down the road, some other Lombard public domain titles will find their way online. Anyone for "Swing High, Swing Low"?