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carole lombard 01

Shanghai semi-surprise

Posted by vp19 on 2018.04.16 at 21:20
Current mood: curiouscurious

Considering the popularity of "Swing High, Swing Low" -- this Carole Lombard-Fred MacMurray collaboration was Paramount's biggest money-maker for all of 1937 -- it's strange that no complete 35 mm print of the film exists. But that's another story for another time.

In the 1930s, Hollywood product had fans far beyond American borders. The U.S. had wrested control of the international film market from Europe in the wake of World War I, and retained that dominance two decades later. That even held true in China; witness this item from a theater in Shanghai:

The Capitol Theater opened in 1928. While it seated but 900, that was sufficient for the city's relatively small but prosperous English-speaking community:

What are sandbags doing outside the theater? It was taken during World War II. In August 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Shanghai, and they fought Chinese troops throughout much of downtown for more than three months. The bloody battle later was described as "Stalingrad on the Yangtze."

In late June of '37, the theatre was still open, and showing Carole's third collaboration with Fred:

The previous October, the Capitol ran the epic "San Francisco" with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jeanette MacDonald:

Both programs, accompanied by actual tickets, are now available via eBay. The programs have a little browning, as might be expected for souvenirs more than 80 years old, but aren't brittle and are in good condition.

Bids begin at $3, with the auction set to close at 8:51 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. Bid, or find out more, by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/Capitol-Theatre-Programs-1937-Clark-Gable-Spencer-Tracy-Carol-Lombard-SHANGHAI/332622256242?hash=item4d71d4d872:g:iQsAAOSwugha0~ET.

Speaking of China, how about a well-known standard with that land in the title? "(I'd Like to Get You) On A Slow Boat to China" was written by Broadway composer Frank Loesser in 1947, although it doesn't appear in any of his musicals. According to Loesser's daughter Susan, the phrase comes from poker, referring to a person who lost big. It's since come to mean anything that takes a long time.

Several dozen acts have recorded this over the years (including Fats Domino and Paul McCartney!), but perhaps my favorite was recorded in October 1947 by Benny Goodman and his orchestra, with the little-known Al Hendrickson on vocal. Benny's musicianship makes this version a standout.

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