July 15th, 2019

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'Gable And Lombard'? How about 'Powell And Lombard'?

Today's entry was inspired by "Supernatural" -- no, not the 1933 film that was Carole Lombard' lone journey into horror, but the long-running TV series of the same name on the CW network that begins its 15th and final season this fall.

The series chronicles the exploits of brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, who hunt monsters and demonic creatures while in alliance (and/or opposition) with angels, witches and other phenomena. (One of them killed their mother.) Arguably the CW's signature show, "Supernatural" draws a relatively small but extremely passionate audience who have followed the brothers through more than 300 episodes.

I live with a friend who avidly follows the series on DVD. From watching episodes of earlier seasons, it reminds me of another well-done show I watched 20 years ago, "Xena: Warrior Princess," in that it can go in all sorts of directions, from deadly serious drama to clever, off-beat comedy.

So where does this "Supernatural" tie in with Lombard? At the Facebook site "CAROLE LOMBARD !!!", the old "cast actors to portray Clark Gable and Carole Lombard in a biopic" game came up, and one suggested candidate for Clark was Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester and is now 40.

As for the Lombard sweepstakes, the names Emma Stone and Kristin Bell were brought up:

All well and good, but as we all know, this is territory that was explored some 43 years ago, and not very well in most people's eyes (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/47604.html).

So despite good intentions, one might understand why producers would not want to try a new version of "Gable And Lombard," even with a much stronger script and more vivid portrayals of Clark and Carole.

So instead, why not explore another part of Lombard's life?

Lombard's relationship with William Powell wasn't out of a fairy tale, though to many it seemed that way when they married in June 1931. Some 26 months later, they split, though Carole's claims of cruelty in the brief divorce proceedings were likely overblown; later in 1933, they regularly dated. Powell, by now romancing Jean Harlow, recommended Lombard for the female lead in "My Man Godfrey" in 1936, perhaps her biggest big-screen success. Following Harlow's sudden passing and Bill's serious illness, Carole was among the friends who gradually guided him back to health.

Even after she married Gable in 1939 and he wed Diana Lewis the following year, they remained close, as this 1940 picture of them dancing at Ciro's made clear:

Lombard and Powell aren't linked for posterity, unlike Carole and Clark; in fact, many classic movie fans aren't aware they had been married, or even been a couple. However, the complex nature of their relationship more than 80 years ago, and why they stayed close following their split, may have something to say to a society where divorces are far more common.

A movie about Carole and Bill would probably be tailored for the indie, art-house crowd. The number-one question would be, who would play Powell? There's really no name actor today who evokes his suave, urbane personality (not even George Clooney). Perhaps there's an unknown who possesses such qualities; it sure would be fun to find him.
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