When it comes to Carole Lombard and Universal, it's difficult not to think about "My Man Godfrey," arguably the greatest screwball comedy of them all (no backtalk from "Bringing Up Baby" fans, please).
Blessed with immaculate writing, a superlative cast, and a message done just right for an America easing out of the Depression, few would dispute its classic status. Well, there was one critic who did, but Carole helped set him straight (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/762336.html).
However, it wasn't Lombard's only movie at Universal -- in fact, it wasn't even her first. That one, "Love Before Breakfast," is today's topic, my entry for the Universal Pictures Blogathon hosted by Silver Scenes (http://silverscenesblog.blogspot.com).
"Love Before Breakfast" is no "Godfrey"; if it's remembered for anything today, nearly 80 years after it first made theaters, it's for this provocative poster. (And just to ease the minds of some unfamiliar with the movie, Carole's black eye was not the result of domestic violence. That wouldn't have been funny.)
As stated, "Breakfast" isn't a classic -- but it is a competent, occasionally effective romantic comedy. Lombard's success in 1934's "Twentieth Century," where she battled John Barrymore toe-to-toe, woke up studios to what Carole could achiueve comedically.
Her home studio, Paramount, finally came to its senses about her in 1935 with her preceding picture, "Hands Across the Table." And while neither "Breakfast" nor her Paramount followup, "The Princess Comes Across," were as inspired, merely starring in comedic vehicles made evident the industry no longer considered Carole an all-purpose star who could be deposited into genres ill-suited for her (see 1933's "Supernatural").
In 'love Before Breakfast," adapted from the Faith Baldwin short story "Spinster Dinner," Lombard portrays Kay Colby, a socialite torn between two prospective beaus (Cesar Romero and his boss, Preston Foster, who sends him off to Japan for a work assignment).
Playing a wealthy lady enables Carole to show off some fashions -- though as I've stated before, that plaid jacket she's wearing almost looks as if a pattern was made from a kitchen tablecloth -- and wear an equestrian outfot (as she also did in "I Take This Woman" and "Lady By Choice"; she looked great in jodhpurs).
Moreover, she wasn't the only member of her "family" to appear in the film. Her Pekingese, Pushface, was shown in a few scenes. The canine is seen with Carole, director Walter Lang, Romero and supporting player Janet Beecher:
ontemporary reviews, such as this from the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9401E1DE123FEE3BBC4C52DFB566838D629EDE), were somewhat complimentary, but with reservations. But for Lombard, later success at Universal City was yet to come.
"Love Before Breakfast" is part of the six-film, two-DVD set "The Carole Lombard Glamour Collection" that Universal issued on April 4, 2006. (The other five titles are from Paramount, movies MCA acquired the rights to in the 1950s before that firm was absorbed into Universal.) Here's a few minutes of Lombard in action from the film: