vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Norman, that is you

For someone whose stage experience was next to nil -- something that could be said for relatively few of the actors who came to prominence after talking films succeeded silents -- Carole Lombard had a strong relationship with writers. Early on, she gained recognition in the movie community for having "a good ear" where a script was concerned, and she became close friends with many of them. (One, Robert Riskin, had an off-and-on romantic relationship with her for several years.)

Today, we're going to examine one of the more important writers in Lombard's life, someone whose career spanned several decades; he became recognized as one of the masters of the romantic comedy genre. His name: Norman Krasna.

I'm a bit surprised that it took me so long to write an entry about Krasna, given that his resume includes two of Carole's more important movies, "Hands Across The Table"...

...and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith":

However, Lombard was but one of Krasna's legendary leading ladies. Others included Myrna Loy ("Wife Vs. Secretary," with Loy as the wife and Jean Harlow the secretary), Ginger Rogers ("Bachelor Mother"), Marilyn Monroe ("Let's Make Love"), Shirley MacLaine ("My Geisha") and Jane Fonda ("Sunday In New York"). The last was his adaptation of his Broadway play, of which he wrote several.

Krasna, born about 13 months after Lombard, was a New York native who attended Columbia. After college, he became a film and theater critic, but the papers he worked for, the World and the Evening Graphic, folded in 1931 and 1932, respectively. (That reminds me of my mother, who in the early '70s went to work at a department store that went out of business, as did the chain that took over the property. In those pre-bailout days, we warned her never to get a job at General Motors.) Krasna -- who had already had a Broadway play to his credit -- headed west.

Krasna gained a reputation as a solid comedic writer, but could also deliver the dramatic goods, writing the oft-neglected "Four Hours To Kill" (1935) and the story for Fritz Lang's triumph "Fury" the following year. By the 1940s, Krasna got the chance to direct a few films, one of which, "Princess O'Rourke" (1943) won him an Academy Award for best original screenplay (the only time he won in four tries). He returned to Broadway for such successes as "Dear Ruth" and "Time For Elizabeth" (which he co-wrote with Groucho Marx).

Krasna was married twice, the latter to Al Jolson's widow Erle Chennault Galbraith, until his death on Nov. 1, 1984, a few days before what would have been his 75th birthday.

To leave, here's the title song from "Sunday In New York," a fine example of early sixties cinematic sex comedy. This was done by Mel Torme over the opening credits of the movie, but the best-known recording of it came from Bobby Darin, yet another example of his faux Sinatra "Songs For Swingin' Lovers" approach -- and it works. (It's sad to think that Darin, who left us in 1973 at only 37, has been dead now for nearly as long as he lived.) I'm not sure who arranged this -- could it be Billy May? -- but it's well done, and I just love the "East Side, West Side" riff at the end.


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