Carole Lombard would spend much of February 1934 working on two films...first, the Paramount musical comedy "We're Not Dressing" with Bing Crosby, then what would be the most pivotal film in her career, "Twentieth Century," where her performance -- matching vaunted co-star John Barrymore stride for stride -- figuratively would vault her into the who's who of actresses. But that month, Lombard learned she'd cracked the list for a real-life Who's Who, yet another advancement in the Hollywood hierarchy. No wonder she felt a bit "puffed up," in the words of the Feb. 16 Anniston (Ala.) Star:
Those who hadn't heard Lombard was on board the "Twentieth Century" soon got the word from Columbia, since this likely is its news release that ran in the Feb. 10 Reno Evening Gazette, a paper she may occasionally have read while establishing her six weeks' Nevada residency the previous summer:
The same day, the Lowell (Mass.) Sun ran this item, probably from the Paramount news bureau, since her upcoming film for the studio is in the lead paragraph and the first three stars mentioned -- Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West -- all hail from the Paramount roster:
And speaking of "Bolero," Paramount was beginning its publicity push. Here are a few ads from Hollywood trade papers. It was part of the studio's "big five" releases that month:
This four-page spread appeared in the trades -- and note the hype given not to female lead Lombard, but to red-hot fan dancer Sally Rand. Through "Bolero," she was achieving the movie success that eluded her in the late '20s (ironically, Sally had been a WAMPAS "baby star," while Lombard never gained similar honors):
"Bolero" was released that month, and in many markets its premiere coincided with Washington's birthday (Feb. 22 fell on a Thursday that year). In my hometown of Syracuse, it opened at the Paramount on South Saiina Street...
...while in another ad from the Feb. 21 Syracuse Herald, RKO Keith's up the block premiered upstart Columbia's "It Happened One Night," which in its earlier incarnation as the vehicle "Night Bus" was a production Lombard declined in favor of "Bolero," a seemingly choice film from her home turf. (To be fair, at the time, Robert Montgomery -- hardly the same tier box-office draw as Clark Gable -- was envisioned as the "Night Bus" male lead, and quite a few actors of both genders weren't interested in a loanout to Harry Cohn's studio.)
Meanwhile, Carole's 1933 Columbia release "Brief Moment" was playing in Canada, and a story about it in the Winnipeg Free Press apparently was written by a staff member, not taken from a release, as it accuses Lombard of lacking fire. (A few months from now, perhaps we'll see this critic's reaction to her work in "Twentieth Century" and see whether it was hot enough for him.)
In contrast, what ran in the Feb. 11 San Antonio Express has the faint aroma of a rewritten press release:
Back in Syracuse, "Brief Moment" had reached the "nabes," specifically the Franklin on South Avenue, a theater I regularly passed in my childhood while riding the bus downtown. In this Feb. 10 ad from the Syracuse Herald, it's topping a double bill with one of those low-grade oaters John Wayne made until "Stagecoach" vaulted him to star status five years later. (And note "The Eagle And The Hawk" is on the other side of town at the Avon.):
Lombard's legs long had been lauded, but in February another part of her anatomy came in for praise...her lips. Artist Henry Clive examined the lips of eight prominent actresses (whether he saw them in person or merely through pictures is unknown), but said in the Feb. 21 Ardmore (Okla.) Daily Ardmoreite the ones that belonged to Carole "disclosed a girl who could weather emotional storms without concern" (such as a critic saying she lacked fire):
Two days later, the Moberly (Mo.) Monitor-Index ran images of five of those pairs of lips (Lombard's are in the lower right-hand corner):
OK, you're wondering, where are the amusing anecdotes that made Lombard a legend? Well, we have two for you this month. The first hails from the Tyrone (Pa.) Daily Herald of Feb. 13, and deals with a gag she pulled on "We're Not Dressing" director Norman Taurog:
I'll bet Mack Sennett was smiling when he read that one.
Work was hard on "We're Not Dressing," despite much of it being shot at Catalina Island, so it's no wonder that when Lombard hosted a party at her Beverly Hills home (the move to her Hollywood Boulevard residence wouldn't occur until April), she sought to get out of her shoes. So guests got to see her silk-stockinged feet roam the carpet for much of that night, according to Hearst columnist Louella Parsons in the Feb. 19 San Antonio Light:
This latest Lombard LiveJournal header, the last one for February, is Paramount p1202-354. So, apparently, was the previous header, though the two look nothing alike. Go fig.