Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers all have this in common: Each had their centenary honored at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md. (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/179517.html, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/378963.html). Now add another luminous luminary to the list...Loretta:
As in Young, of course. Over the past two decades or so, the pre-Code revival unearthed many movies from the early 1930s that had been doomed to obscurity...a period when the incredibly youthful Young (when the Production Code was seriously enforced in mid-1934, Loretta was a mere 21) had established herself as one of the hardest-working actresses around. Her later work was solid, too, both in films and on television.
The Loretta Young tribute consists of 14 films shown through mid-April, and begins this weekend with a charming example of 1940s whimsy, "The Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant and David Niven.
Most of these movies were shown on Turner Classic Movies in January, when Young was its star of the month. But unless you were an insomniac, in the Pacific time zone or had the foresight to set up your DVR, chances are you didn't see a funny little gem from 1933 called "Grand Slam," a satire on the contract bridge card game craze of the early '30s (that era's version of Texas Hold 'Em).
Paul Lukas co-stars with Loretta in this comedy that culminates in a championship bridge match played before a hotel crowd and broadcast on radio(!), with workers at a Chinese laundry and Harlem barbershop caught up in the action. If you can get past those silly ethnic stereotypes, this film (bolstered by Warners mainstays Frank McHugh and Glenda Farrell) is a lot of fun.
Other favorites include "Taxi!" (1932), Loretta's only movie with James Cagney (and she got that only because Lombard refused a loanout to Warners); "Platinum Blonde" (1931) where Young holds her own against heiress Harlow; "Born To Be Bad" (1934), co-starring Grant (the picture of Loretta at the top of this entry is a publicity still from that film); and other popular pre-Codes such as "Employees' Entrance," "Midnight Mary," "Man's Castle" and "Zoo In Budapest" (all 1933). And we can't forget Young's Oscar-winning performance in the 1947 comedy "The Farmer's Daughter."
For a complete schedule of the Loretta Young centennial, go to http://www.afi.com/silver/films/2013/v10i1/lorettayoung.aspx. If you're in or near the D.C. area within the next few weeks, it's well worth checking out, especially since the Silver is a splendid venue that's easy to get to (only a two-block walk from the Silver Spring station on Metrorail's Red line). Loretta eagerly awaits your visit.
Carole's all smiles in our latest LiveJournal header, p1202-48.