August 24th, 2011

carole lombard 03
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Looking back: August 1932

By August 1932, Carole Lombard's latest film, "Sinners In The Sun," was making the rounds of the neighborhood and small-town theaters after having played the big downtown houses. Ever the sports fan, Lombard enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity early in the month by taking in the Olympics at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

I've never seen a photo of Carole at the Games, but one description says she dazzled. According to Hearst's Rochester Evening Journal on Aug. 3, Lombard created "something of a stir when she walked into the stadium. She wore white, and was accompanied by William Powell." Hey, Powell was her husband, though by now, a year and a month into their marriage, cracks in the relationship were slowly beginning to emerge.

Here's the report in full, so you can see what other screenland notables, such as Ginger Rogers, were wearing to the Olympics:

As months go, where publicity was concerned, August of '32 was fairly quiet for Carole. We learned in the Aug. 24 trade paper Film Daily that because Nancy Carroll was taking over for Lombard in "Hot Saturday" after Carole spurned the part, Constance Cummings was in turn taking Carroll's role in "Night After Night," now best known as Mae West's cinematic debut. The following day, the publication announced Lombard was being loaned to Columbia for "Virtue," and on the 26th, how about this "what-if," tantalizing on so many levels:

The idea of Greta Garbo, MGM's top female star (don't tell that to Norma Shearer or Joan Crawford, please!), making a film at Warners...filmed on location in her native Sweden...and if that fell through, having Lombard as the female lead opposite weaselly pre-Code fave Warren William, an actor neither she nor Garbo ever worked with.

Well, shoot this story full of holes.

* Would MGM let its feminine meal ticket out of its sight, and to a studio with a philosophy far removed from theirs?
* Would parsimonious Warners pay the kind of money MGM would demand for such a loanout?
* Would the Kreuger estate agree to have this hardly flattering roman a clef filmed at its grounds?

And that's not even getting to the Lombard connection. Clearly, this was some Warners puffery. Whether or not Carole was "the most likely selection," the part ultimately went to Lili Damita.

On Aug. 30, it's back to Rochester again, this time for a tidbit from Louella Parsons' column:

Nice to know Powell was so publicly supportive of his wife's work...and is the key word here publicly? By the next Aug. 30, this marriage would be in the past tense.

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