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carole lombard 03

Looking back: March 1932

Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.02 at 02:35
Current mood: curiouscurious

The big news for Carole Lombard in March 1932 was her latest film, "No One Man," which after its release in late January was rolling out into medium-sized and smaller cities. Artistically, it was little more than a programmer, but at least it was keeping Carole in the spotlight.

This type of film, one writer noted, was quite similar to what another blonde -- one currently more popular than Lombard -- was doing at the time. This is from the St. Joseph (Mo.) News Press of March 18:

Hollywood writer Robbin Coons said Lombard was being used as a rags-to-riches Constance Bennett type, "and she is wearing glittering creations which she sets off quite as beautifully as the rival star. But she has a right to be considered on her own merits, and she will, you may be sure." (Coons also said Bette Davis, then a Bennett-like ash blonde still some years away from becoming queen of the Warners lot, was in a similar situation.)

One wonders whether the writer was aware of the backstory regarding Bennett and Lombard, in that Connie reportedly had Carole and her blonde buddy Diane Ellis thrown off the Pathe roster in late 1929, about the time Bennett signed with the studio.

In March of '32, Carole was hard at work on her next film, "Sinners In The Sun," from which Mollie Merrick, whose column ran in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, received fodder for at least two columns. On March 7, she wrote that a mock newspaper was created for a scene:

"They had lots of fun at Paramount the other day getting together a real Sunday newspaper (to be used in "Sinners In The Sun," which is being made now).

"Under the fictitious title, 'New York Mercury,' a lot of ex-newspaper men turned out an unusually interesting paper, which only reached a total of 15 copies. Just enough for the picture.

"A real newspaper could not be used, as the studio would thereby be open to any number of suits from syndicates because of the strict copyright laws in regard to photographing copyrighted material.

"Being an argumentative sort, I asked why they had to make an entire newspaper -- why wouldn't the front sheet be enough?

"But it happens that in the story one of the scenes shows a family grabbing the parts of a Sunday paper. For instance, Chester Morris gets the sports section, Carole Lombard the help wanted section, Adrienne Ames the society, and Alison Skipworth the woman's page, which necessitated a complete paper.

"So while they were going that far they made it truly realistic and made a funny page featuring the four Marx brothers, Stuart Erwin and Jack Oakie."

Had this film been made at MGM in 1932, it probably could have used a Hearst paper (in this case, the Sunday New York American), thanks to Hearst's MGM ties at the time. And, of course, the Marxes, Erwin and Oakie were all Paramount players when this was made.

Two weeks later, in the March 21 paper, she ran this tidbit:

Merrick discovers 1910s stars Florence Turner and Florence Lawrence both in the cast of "Sinners In The Sun." Alas, she merely acknowledges their presence and doesn't talk to them -- or to the stars they were supporting. (Lombard probably saw their films while growing up in Fort Wayne.) For more on Lawrence and her fascinating, yet ultimately tragic story, go to http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/268617.html.

On March 30, Hearst columnist Louella Parsons reported that Lombard and co-star Chester Morris had lunch on the lot with the Earl and Countess of Strafford and the honorable Robert Bruce of London. According to Parsons, "They were visiting the paramount studios and Carole and Chester did the honors and did them mighty well." How reassuring to the Anglophiles among us.

To help promote "Sinners In The Sun," Lombard, Paramount designer Travis Banton and William De Mille selected 11 extras from several hundred candidates to appear in the film. This ran in the Meriden (Conn.) Daily Journal on March 19:

None of the 11 achieved any notable stardom, although Muriel Evans worked on quite a few 1930s westerns, including at least one with John Wayne, and was a frequent leading lady of Charley Chase in his later two-reelers.

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