vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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A 'Pursuit' that never materialized

Add another to the list of films Carole Lombard might have appeared in, but didn't.

In November 1933, Los Angeles Times writer Edwin Schallert (you're probably familiar with his son, William, one of the great character actors who's now in his late 80s and still works regularly) reported in his column:

"...Paramount will probably have an eye to Carole Lombard as a possible lead for 'Pursuit Of Happiness,' which is something new altogether in pictures. It is laid in the revolutionary days, and has to do with the ancient custom of 'bundling,' the meaning of which I will have to let you guess at, unless you happen to know. It was a premarital custom of the time."

Methinks Mr. Schallert dropped a hint about "bundling" by the phrase "laid in the revolutionary days."

Sounds like it might have been an intriguing comedic vehicle for Lombard, especially since she was rarely seen in period garb. (Whether her modern personality could have fit into such a film is another question entirely.)

Well, as we all know, Carole never made a film by that title, or of that subject; whether it was her decision or Paramount's is unknown. But it was made into a movie, with Joan Bennett (shown below, playing a character named Prudence Kirkland!) and Francis Lederer (as a Hessian soldier gone AWOL) as the leads, with Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland in supporting roles.

"The Pursuit Of Happiness" was directed by Alexander Hall, who directed the Lombard film "Sinners In The Sun" (and also directed "They All Kissed The Bride," the movie Carole would have appeared in had she not died in 1942).

That's the good news (along with that a nitrate copy of the film exists in the UCLA film and television archive). The bad news? Paramount released the film on Sept. 28, 1934, which means it was issued after the Production Code was imposed in mid-year, and thus probably lost plenty of its sexual tension and bite. Under pre-Code guidelines, who knows what this might have been like?

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