vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Make Metro your vehicle to a lot of Culver City history

carole lombard the gay bride on set with conway 02a

And by "Metro" we're not referring to the newly-opened Expo Line, which extended to Culver City a few weeks ago. Nope, we mean Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the town's famed film factory, and generally considered the industry's premier studio during the golden age of American movies. Above is Carole Lombard in a scene from her lone film at MGM, 1934's "The Gay Bride," with director Jack Conway watching her.

"The Gay Bride" wasn't much of a picture (Carole would admit as such), but for a better example of MGM's technical brilliance, a still from another Conway film, 1929's "Our Modern Maidens," Joan Crawford's last silent. This ran in Photoplay that May:

joan crawford our modern maidens photoplay may 1929aa
joan crawford our modern maidens photoplay may 1929bb

Had to reassure those readers that Joan wasn't going to jump (as if that was in the plans for the studio's latest star!).

A terrific book about the heyday of the Metro lot, "MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot," was issued early last year (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/384221.html)...

mgm hollywood's greatest backlot 00a large

...and one of its authors, Steve Bingen, will visit the Silver Screen Oasis from Friday through Sunday (http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis3/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=5809). If you have questions about the inner workings of the MGM lot during its golden era, send them to the Oasis and get the answers. (Bingen is a staffer at Warners Corporate Archive, and if you have any historical questions about that fabled firm, send them his way, too.)

The book is a splendid way to transport yourself to the colossal MGM backlot before much of its land and memorabilia was sold off more than 40 years ago, a lot that was home to many movie legends such as Jean Harlow, shown near the producers' building in May 1937, mere weeks before her shocking death:

jean harlow 051037a mgm lot producers building

One of the films shot at MGM after much of the lot had been sold off was "Hearts Of The West" (1975), an affectionate look at Hollywood in the 1930s. Jeff Bridges is the lead character, a writer who becomes a star of western, with Andy Griffith in a key supporting role as an old cowboy star who's been through the mill of the movie industry:

hearts of the west andy griffith jeff bridges

"Hearts Of The West" airs tonight as part of a four-film Turner Classic Movies tribute to Griffith, who died earlier this month at age 86. (Another legend who left us this month, Ernest Borgnine, will receive a 24-hour tribute from TCM July 26.) The Griffith films begin at 8 (Eastern) with his best-known cinematic role, as Lonesome Rhodes in "A Face In The Crowd" (1957), followed by "No Time For Sergeants" (1958) at 10:15, where he reprised his comedic work on live TV in 1955 and then on Broadway. "Hearts Of The West" airs at 12:30 a.m., and the tribute closes with another service comedy, "Onionhead" (1958) at 2:15.

Griffith will always be known as a TV icon, and deservedly so -- but he was so much more than that. He was a delightful humorist (his "What It Was, Was Football" is a classic routine) and a splendid actor, as the four movies tonight will make evident.

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