Carole Lombard poses near a window in the Iris Circle home in Los Angeles she shared with first husband William Powell in the early 1930s. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Lombard lived in Los Angeles long before she stepped into the film industry (though when six-year-old Jane Alice Peters joined her mother and two elder brothers in moving from Fort Wayne, Ind., in the fall of 1914, who's to say she wasn't already entertaining the thought of becoming an actress on the big screen?).
Lombard loved Los Angeles; aside from a brief foray or two into Beverly Hills, she spent roughly a quarter-century of her brief life as a citizen of the city. And if you'd asked her at the time how the motion picture industry portrayed her adopted hometown, I'm honestly not sure what she would have told you -- during her lifetime, while countless films used Los Angeles locations, relatively few were actually set there.
Not until film noir rose to prominence shortly before her death did southern California-based movies gain a foothold, such as 1944's "Double Indemnity," starring two old friends of Carole's, Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray:
Many believe Los Angeles has been given short shrift from the industry that's been its home for about a century. In 2003, filmmaker Thom Andersen, who'd given a lecture about how Hollywood (the industry, not the residential/commercial district) denigrates Los Angeles, proved his point by creating a three-hour documentary on the topic, called "Los Angeles Plays Itself" (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/334941.html). It's been hugely popular when shown in theaters, and it's available in 12 parts on YouTube, but the colossal number of film clips used (the complete list is at http://www.twotreatises.org/409) led many of us to believe it never would be available on DVD.
How wrong we were...and thankfully so.
"Los Angeles Plays Itself" will appear on DVD and Blu-ray from CinemaGuild on Sept. 30 (http://laist.com/2014/07/09/the_best_documentary_about_los_ange.php). If you're into film history, Los Angeles history or architectural history, you'll almost certainly love it. (And you'll note that out of respect for Andersen, we not once have used the reference "LA"; he despises the term.)
CinemaGuild also is releasing some of Andersen's other documentaries, including "Red Hollywood," his 1995 film on the blacklist. Applause to this company for a job well done; perhaps we should have them work on another holy grail, the Kevin Brownlow silent-era documentary "Hollywood," so that finally will appear on DVD.