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A pair of goodies, one 'key', plus 10 years of a locked archive

Coming across previously unseen Carole Lombard memorabilia on eBay is always a treat, and here are two more examples. Both are from 1937, when Lombard was at the peak of her box-office power.

We'll kick things off with p1202-1620, similar to several other poses in that outfit of the time, but slightly different:



It's an 8" x 10" original, in excellent condition...and as might be expected with such an artifact, it won't come cheaply. In fact, bidding for it opens at $194.95 (no bids have been made as of this writing); bidding closes at 11:30 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. If you want to place a bid or are simply curious about the item, go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-37-GORGEOUS-BEAUTY-Portrait-/400264573324?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d31a0b18c to learn more about it.

The next is also from 1937 Paramount and was originally part of something called a "key book." It's publicity for "Swing High, Swing Low," and shows Carole in a scene with someone few know she worked with -- future star Anthony Quinn:




It's 8" x 10:, and the seller describes its condition as "Good, there are small tears at the bottom edge, minor creases at the corners and the photo is printed on double-weight paper. The binding tab at the left edge is standard for this format."

This shouldn't be out of most collectors' reach, as bidding opens at $9.99 and will close at 9:06 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. For additional information or to bid, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-and-Anthony-Quinn-candid-key-set-photo-1937-Swing-High-Swing-Low-/230729555184?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b88d9cf0.

Vintage images of Lombard and others from the classic Hollywood era are crucial for scholars of cinema's Golden Age. It's therefore frustrating to learn that one of the treasure troves for research has just celebrated, if you can call it that, 10 years without being accessible to anyone. I am speaking of the stills archive from the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

MoMA has done wonders for classic film buffs in terms of preservation and restoration of movies...but another side of cinematic history is being held hostage in a small town in Pennsylvania. Time film critic Richard Corliss explains:

"Ten years ago today, a vast, invaluable trove of movie history was capriciously shut down. Executives at the Museum of Modern Art ordered the closing of its Film Stills Archive, a collection of some 4 million photographs documenting more than a century of movies, performers and directors. On the morning of Jan. 11, 2002, Mary Lea Bandy, chief curator of the MoMA Department of Film and Video, told the two Stills Archive staff members that at the end of the business day two things would happen: the facility would be shuttered and the staffers would be laid off—until, and unless, the Museum found space for the Stills Archive when MoMA returned from its temporary home in Queens to an enlarged Manhattan premises in 2005."

Corliss has more than a personal interest in this, to be sure; his wife, Mary Corliss, had run the stills archive for more than 30 years, and they had married in 1969, not long after Richard had been an intern at MoMA. He notes how vehement the reaction was at the time -- and note some of the names:

"The day after the Stills Archive’s abrupt closing, The New York Times ran an article, sympathetic to the staffers, followed by a stinging letter from Ebert and a Sunday Arts & Leisure piece by David Thomson. The Village Voice and the New York Observer covered the closing and joined the outcry, as did John Anderson in Newsday and Robert Osborne in The Hollywood Reporter. The Society for Cinema Studies and the New York Film Critics Circle fired off protests to Bandy and MoMA Director Glenn Lowry. Martin Scorsese, who had used Stills Archive photos in his documentary My Voyage to Italy, said of the collection’s exile to Hamlin, 'I can only hope, for the cineastes here in New York who need access to the files, that this is not permanent.'”

So far, however, it is; who knows how many rare photos of Lombard and other notables are being held hostage there? Learn more about this frustrating tale at http://entertainment.time.com/2012/01/11/mary-and-moma-the-case-of-the-still-missing-film-stills.
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