vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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A photographic foreign affair

The first few decades of the 20th century was the time when the concept of the American-based multinational corporation came to the forefront. Coca-Cola began spreading its carbonated gospel far and wide: Ford and other automotive firms did likewise (many of them were based in Detroit, just across the river from Canada, so working in markets outside the U.S. became second nature).

Movie studios were a natural for it, too. They had a product that went beyond borders...especially during the silent era, when all you needed for success in Europe or Latin America were language changes on the title cards. It could be a two-way process, too, but far more people outside the U.S. saw American films than vice versa.

Paramount was one of the pioneers of the Hollywood film industry, and its cultivation of the European market paid off, leading to the hiring of the likes of Ernst Lubitsch. Even after the arrival of talking pictures -- a move many companies resisted because of the language barrier -- Paramount product was still strong in Europe, luring Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich and others.

Here are three examples of the foreign side of Paramount -- publicity photos of Carole Lombard. The pictures themselves aren't particularly European or "continental" in style, but they all have this in common:

Some things to note about that caption:

* It simply announces, "Carole Lombard is appearing in Paramount Pictures." No particular film is promoted, probably because films premiered at different times in different countries. (In the U.S., films normally initially premiered at the big-city palaces, then moved to urban "neighborhood" houses, and then to small-town theaters that ran product from multiple studios.)

* The note about exclusivity comes in two languages -- English and Spanish, possibly because the Spanish-speaking marekt was Paramount's second-largest, behind English-speaking lands such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and most of Canada.

* The person in charge of "foreign advertising and service," one C.L. Gartner, worked out of the Paramount building in New York -- not the Paramount offices in Los Angeles. Perhaps Paramount believed it could communicate with its foreign branches (Europe in particular) more efficiently from the east coast than the west.

Anywya, here are the three photos of Lombard I found with the above message on the back:

That's P1202-155, probably taken sometime in 1931.

This one, P1202-390, is likely from 1932, early '33 at the latest.

This one I'm stumped on, probably because ithas no P1202 number (Lombard's portrait code). Instead, it has the number "1369," which probably refers to a film instead of an actor. Also, I'm pretty sure I've seen that two-piece swimsuit on her in some other publicity photos. Any ideas what film this photo might be from?

All three are attractive pictures, and I'm sure international editors welcomed them every bit as much as their American counterparts did.

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