How many of you have seen, or even remember, the film shown on the poster above? It was called "Outrageous Fortune," and it came out in 1987, starring two actresses who have ties of sorts to Carole Lombard. Shelley Long, as many people know, is from Carole's hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., while Bette Midler's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is adjacent to Lombard's on Hollywood Boulevard. (Bill Cosby's on the other side of Carole.)
"Outrageous Fortune" wasn't a classic by any means, but it was plenty of fun. The ladies play rival actresses in training, Long's wealthy and prissy, Midler's earthy and streetwise. Through ties to the same man (which neither had known about), they become involved in intrigue and a chase that leads them far from their New York theater roots. (The title, of course, is derived from Hamlet's solilioquy, as of course was the title of Lombard's final film, "To Be Or Not To Be.") It's worth a rental at your video store or through your mailing service.
Why is this film being brought up here? Well, for some time I've thought that if the premise of this script had been attempted some 50 years earlier, in 1937, it might've made an interesting vehicle for Carole Lombard, as a flighty character similar to Midler's, and Myrna Loy, as a more reserved type along the lines of Long's character. In '37, Lombard and Loy were arguably at the peak of their careers, popular comedic actresses whose styles and approaches to comedy certainly were different. But that doesn't mean they couldn't have complemented each other.
Of course, we'll never know, because Lombard and Loy never made a movie together. And even if they had, they wouldn't have been the two leads; in those days, such billing was never done. Films then invariably had a male and a female lead, normally in some sort of romantic relationship -- and in the event two lead actresses appeared together, their characters were usually vying over a man who got equal or superior billing.
When women co-starred in a comedy, it normally was a short subject. Before her untimely and still mysterious death, Thelma Todd was paired in two-reelers with Zasu Pitts and then with Patsy Kelly:
Here's our "what if" assignment: Take a movie story that you could "adapt" into a female "buddy" picture in the 1930s, with Carole Lombard as one of the leads. Also name an actress of that era who would co-star with Carole. (Since there haven't been many films with two female leads, you can use a male film and give it a gender change.) Also tell us why you think this pairing would work.
Carole's waiting for her co-star.
One more thing about "Outrageous Fortune": Long and Midler had both been promised top billing (oops!), so the producers compromised. Long received top billing in marketing west of the Mississippi River, while Midler was top-billed in marketing east of the Mississippi. (And I have no idea who got the edge in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, a market on both sides of the Mississippi.)