July 6th, 2008

carole lombard 07
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Lombard, the young and Fox-y lady

Heritage Auction Galleries is having another online memorabilia auction, with a number of fascinating goodies for the Carole Lombard fan. Chief among them are three ultra-rare items from a time in her life that's still tantalizingly elusive to us: her early career at Fox.

In the beginning of 1930, Lombard would return to Fox for a one-shot role in a western, "The Arizona Kid" (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/115770.html). But half a decade earlier, before the auto accident that briefly sidelined her and sent her career in a far different direction, she was a Fox contract player, making several silent films -- all of them believed lost for decades. But you never know -- recently, 25 minutes of footage from the 1926 silent classic "Metropolis," missing since its original print, was found in Buenos Aires (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/missing-reels-from-langs-metropolis-discovered-860006.html).

Like many silent actresses of that era, Lombard was extremely young...in fact, her first film for Fox, "Marriage In Transit," was released in late March of 1925, before she was 16 1/2. And, wonder of wonders, Heritage has a lobby card promoting that film (http://movieposters.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=694&Lot_No=29212):

In 1934, director Howard Hawks would help propel Lombard into the top rank of comedic film actresses by coaxing a dynamic performance from her in "Twentieth Century." But did you know that was not the first time Hawks had directed her? In late 1925, she had a small role in his directorial debut, "The Road To Glory" (not to be confused with an unrelated 1936 Fredric March movie of the same name which, curiously, was also directed by Hawks and co-written by William Faulkner!).

The earlier "Glory," which Hawks co-wrote, stars May McAvoy (who later played opposite Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer") as a woman blinded in an auto accident who relies on prayer to regain her sight...a bizarre coincidence, considering Lombard's auto mishap occurred at about the time the movie was in theaters.

This auction features a lobby card from "Glory," showing Lombard and the diminutive (4-foot-11) McAvoy, as well as leading man Rockliffe Fellows (http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/28037-The-Road-to-Glory-Fox-1926-Lobby-Card-11-X_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ52933QQihZ007QQitemZ170234828384QQrdZ1QQsspagenameZWDVW#la-image-1):

Finally, how about a publicity still, taken by someone named Witzel, of Lombard as an actress in "William Fox Photoplays"? We have one, taken when she was, at most, age 17. Her hair is darker than it would later normally be (it probably helped make her look older), and this is a fascinating look at her pre-accident period (http://movieposters.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=694&Lot_No=29222):

None of the three items will come cheaply. Opening bids on the lobby cards are $400, while the publicity still opens at $200.

But there are other items, too. The most expensive Lombard-related item is a rare jumbo (22" x 28") window card advertising "My Man Godfrey" (http://movieposters.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=694&Lot_No=29230). Bidding begins at $2,000:

The "Shea's" reference indicates the card likely came from the Buffalo, N.Y., area, where the Shea's chain had a number of theaters. Its flagship, the Shea's Buffalo, is now a performing arts center:

To see all the Lombard items being offered, go to http://movieposters.ha.com/common/search_results.php?D=Carole+Lombard&No=0&Ntt=Carole+Lombard&Ntk=SI_Titles-Desc&Ntx=mode+matchall&y=6&N=54+793+794+792+&x=11. Bidding lasts for several more days.
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