It's wonderful to find more people -- especially those born decades after her death -- are discovering not only Carole Lombard (shown peering out the window in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed "Mr. & Mrs. Smith") but romantic comedy in classic Hollywood in general. The writing and acting, even in films that were merely programmers, puts today's "rom-coms" to shame.
If you're among those who are new to the genre and are eager to learn more, here's your guidebook:
James Harvey's "Romantic Comedy In Hollywood: From Lubitsch To Sturges" is an invaluable volume discussing how romantic comedy in American cinema evolved, using directors Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges as unofficial bookends. But Harvey doesn't dismiss actors; there are chapters on Lombard, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert and Jean Arthur, as well as directors such as Leo McCarey, George Stevens and Howard Hawks.
"Romantic Comedy" was first issued in 1987 with a slightly different cover:
I bought a copy at New York's famed Coliseum Books and still use it as a reference a quarter-century later. The book was reissued in 1998; though I've never read the second edition, a glimpse at its table of contents reveals no notable changes. (As the Washington Post reviewed it in May 1998, "For lovers of romantic comedy...this book is a bouillabaisse of homage and insight.")
A copy of the '98 version is up for auction at eBay. You can either buy it now for $15 or place a bid of at least $9.99, in which case bidding will end at 10:15 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. Bid, buy or learn more by visiting http://www.ebay.com/itm/HOLLYWOOD-ROMANTIC-COMEDY-Cary-Grant-Carole-Lombard-Powell-Loy-SC-/130723590708?pt=US_Nonfiction_Book&hash=item1e6fbbb234.
One of the stars Harvey wrote about was Jean Harlow, who he called "the most human of the sex symbols." Noted photographer Preston Duncan, who took some photos of Lombard in the late 1920s...
...did likewise for Harlow in 1929. Here are two of them, recently posted at the fine Jean Harlow group at Yahoo:
The second photo ran in True Confessions in February 1931, and refers to an upcoming Columbia film called "Blonde Baby"; could this have been a working title for "Platinum Blonde," or was this for a project that ultimately was never filmed? Hope some of the Harlow experts out there can solve this.
Finally, this week's LiveJournal header shows heiress Lombard with Randolph Scott and alleged spiritualist Alan Dinehart in the occult 1933 Paramount production, "Supernatural."