When Carole Lombard concluded her seven-year tenure at Paramount in late 1937, she was riding high as the hottest comedic actress in the industry. She had a one-two punch in theaters -- "Nothing Sacred" from Selznick-International, "True Confession" from Paramount.
So Lombard decided to explore other studios, starting with Warner Bros., where she had rejected a chance to work with James Cagney in "Taxi!" more than half a decade before (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/65901.html), a decision she came to regret. For its part, Warners was looking to make a splash in the screwball comedy field, and what better way to do it than with the top actress in the genre? So it gave her a film called "Fools For Scandal."
There was just one problem: While Warners had excelled in pre-Code comedy, it never quite had the writers who had a feel for the newer style. The Warners lot of 1938 was a far cry from what it had been in 1932. Additionally, Carole's co-star, Fernand Gravet, had little chemistry with her.
So despite the presence of Lombard, the always-reliable Ralph Bellamy, and even a song or two from Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (in nightclub sequences, and admittedly not Rodgers and Hart's best work), "Fools For Scandal" never really goes anywhere. Carole probably knew she was in a misfire from day one (and, in fact, perhaps the outtakes from this movie, which can be found at several "blooper" compilations, are more entertaining than the film itself). Perhaps that picture above is her warning people not to admit to anyone that they saw the movie.
It might have been impossible for Lombard to maintain her momentum after a brilliant 1937, but "Fools For Scandal" didn't merely slow it down...it brought it close to a complete halt. Its failure persuaded her to pursue a different, more dramatic direction in her next few films.
Carole always considered "The Gay Bride," made at MGM in 1934, her worst film as a star, but many fans will argue for this one instead.
Here are a few stills from "Fools":