February 15th, 2008

carole lombard 05
  • vp19

Saturday nights, Starlight...and some Lombard

Most of us in this community appreciate Hollywood and its history; it's almost a prerequisite, in order to be a fan of an actress who left us nearly two-thirds of a century ago, before most of us were born. So I sense many of you will be interested in this entry...even if you, like me, don't live anywhere near Los Angeles and are unlikely to participate in what's being offered.

The photo above is arguably among the most important publicity stills ever taken. It's of Norma Shearer in 1929 -- and not only did it help change her image from silent-era innocent to sound-era sophisticate, but it (as well as pictures of fellow MGM star Ramon Novarro) also helped launch the career of the man who would become the industry's greatest portrait photographer, George Hurrell (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/65576.html).

Now, in the same vintage office complex where that series of pictures was taken, you can enjoy screenings of some of the most intriguing films of the classic era. The Starlight Studio is located in the historic Granada Buildings in the Westlake district of downtown Los Angeles. The "Granada Studios and Shoppes" opened in October 1928, and Hurrell was among its first tenants.

It should be noted that Hurrell's office then was in Suite 9, and the Starlight Studio is in Suite 48. But the feeling is still present. The Starlight is run by Mark A. Vieira, who has done so much to promote portrait photography in the tradition of Hurrell and other greats. (Vieira is also an author, having written the splendid "Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy.")

A classic movie fan, Vieira has a series of screenings at his studio on most Saturday nights; it begins this Saturday with a pair of 1937 Paramount films, "I Met Him In Paris" (Claudette Colbert, Melvyn Douglas, Robert Young) and "High, Wide And Handsome" (Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott).

Most of the events are double features. Since 2008 marks Carole Lombard's centenary, Vieira has scheduled four of her films (all four of them pre-Codes):

* July 19 -- "Twentieth Century," the second half of a John Barrymore twin bill; the opener is one of his last features, "World Premiere" (Paramount, 1941), co-starring Frances Farmer.

* Aug. 16 -- "White Woman," with the opener another Paramount excursion to the jungle, 1940's "Safari" with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Madeleine Carroll.

* Aug. 30 -- "Bolero," preceded by another 1934 Paramount film, "Search For Beauty," with the unlikely leading pair of Buster Crabbe and Ida Lupino. See Carole strip to -- then dance in -- lingerie and stockings! Only months after this film was made, the enforcement of the Production Code ensured you'd never see Lombard on screen like this again.

* Sept. 13 -- "The Princess Comes Across," a 1936 comedy with Lombard and Fred MacMurray, following 1943's "No Time For Love," starring Claudette Colbert and MacMurray and directed by Mitchell Leisen.

Several Bette Davis films, for her centenary, are also on the schedule, including the currently unavailable "Beyond The Forest" (Warners, 1949) on April 5. ("What a dump!") You won't have that reaction to the screening room, which is wonderfully intimate:

Reservations are required; all programs begin at 7:30 p.m. Please call 213-383-2448 or e-mail thestarlightstudio@sbcglobal.net

To see the entire schedule, visit http://www.thestarlightstudio.com/screenings.htm
  • Current Mood
    nostalgic nostalgic