Carole Lombard was known for her generosity, so chances are she wouldn't mind sharing birthday honors with Janet Gaynor during the day Thursday on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. (They apparently knew and liked each other, and in Lombard's noted 1938 Hollywood Reporter article about spending a week as a publicist for Selznick International Pictures, she compliments Gaynor.) Four of Carole's films are scheduled, followed by three of Janet's. Here's the schedule for each (all times Eastern):
* 7:30 a.m. -- "Swing High, Swing Low" (1937). This is the only film of the four not to be shown on TCM for Lombard's "Summer Under The Stars" marathon on Aug. 28, not because it isn't a good film -- it's not quite a classic, but a lot of fun, directed by Mitchell Leisen (also an Oct. 6 baby) -- but because it simply doesn't look very good. No complete 35mm print of the film survives, so segments of it are taken from Leisen's own 16mm print (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/11870.html). You get to hear Carole sing without dubbing in this movie, Paramount's top money-maker for all of '37.
* 9 a.m. -- "In Name Only" (1939). Carole teams with Cary Grant (their only co-starring performance) and Kay Francis in this love triangle, child star Peggy Ann Garner's film debut.
* 11 a.m. -- "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (1941). Some view this as a poor man's "The Awful Truth": others wonder why Alfred Hitchcock directed this romantic comedy (as a favor to Carole, whom he liked). But it's gradually become appreciated as a charming late-period screwball, with Lombard looking as alluring as ever as the wife of Robert Montgomery who suddenly isn't his wife anymore.
* 1 p.m. -- "To Be Or Not To Be" (1942). Carole's final performance is a solid one, teaming up with Jack Benny in this Ernst Lubitsch sendup of the Nazis after their invasion of Poland. One of the best black comedies ever made.
Then, it;s Gaynor's turn:
* 2:45 p.m. -- "Three Loves Has Nancy" (1938). This has two things in common with "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" -- Montgomery as the male lead (along with Franchot Tone) and a Norman Krasna script. It's a cute romantic comedy, as southern belle Janet causes all sorts of havoc in the big city for writer Bob.
* 4 p.m. -- "A Star Is Born" (1937). This early Technicolor Hollywood tale is usually overshadowed by the Judy Garland version from 1954, but is a solid film in its own right, with Janet's star rising and Fredric March's star falling. Lombard's name is mentioned in the movie, right after Jean Harlow's.
* 6 p.m. -- "Small Town Girl" (1936). Like "A Star Is Born," this was directed by William Wellman, but its plot sounds somewhat similar to the Lombard film "Brief Moment," as titular character Gaynor marries a drunken playboy (Robert Taylor) and tries to keep him sober. The supporting cast includes Andy Devine, Lewis Stone and a young James Stewart.
It's a splendid way to honor the birthdays of a pair of Hollywood's acting legends.