Someone call Carole Lombard to give her the news: One of her scripts now is available, more than 80 years after it was converted into a movie.
It's for "True Confession," Carole's final film for Paramount and one that inspires both avid defenders and intense detractors. (Leonard Maltin, otherwise a Lombard fan -- heck, he wrote a paperback about her in the mid-1970s -- thinks little of it.) As for me, I sort of like the movie, but it's arguably her weakest of her four collaborations with Fred MacMurray ("Hands Across The Table" is unquestionably her best).
So what can a Lombard fan or scholar derive from this screenplay? As you can tell, it was labeled "private and confidential," lest a movie columnist or executive from another studio come across these contents. Well, let's see:
First, the cast at this point in production (late August 1937). Six minor roles have yet to be filled, including Bartender (Lynne Overman -- he had worked with Lombard on "Rumba"), Suzanne Baggart (popular chorus girl Toby Wing) and Ella (future Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel, in yet another stereotypical black maid role).
In a minor role as a reporter -- but not listed in the script -- was Eleanor Fisher, who won a contest for the part ("Miss Typical America") and actually spoke a line to Lombard (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/643663.html). It would be her only screen credit.
Now on to the screenplay from writer Claude Binyon, shown on the set at center with Carole, Fred, an unidentified male and supporting player Una Merkel:
The opening scene...
...and the closing one:
Beyond the script's alpha and omega, we don't know much. According to this item's eBay seller, this "original draft screenplay" is 170 pages, to which this screenwriter says...What?
My first feature script, "Stand Tall!" (https://filmfreeway.com/projects/476988), may be about a giantess, but its 99 pages is average length for a present-day comedy. And the first draft of my second script, the thriller-romcom "Fugitive Sweetheart," is currently 106 pages long. If the current standard of "one page equals one minute of action" applies here, at this point "True Confession" was more than 2 1/2 hours long! (According to the Internet Movie Database, its running time is 85 minutes.) So I'm presuming Binyon and crew did a lot of editing, since I can't view the entire script.
The eBay package also includes this photo of the leads:
(Did you note the "1156" at the top of the initial page? That was Paramount's film code number for "True Confession," and we see it in the upper right-hand corner.)
The script is mimeographed, in very good condition. Bidding for this opens at $399, with the auction slated to end at 9 p.m. (Eastern) July 5. If you have the money now, you can snap it up for $600, no questions asked. To learn more, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-1937-File-Copy-CAROLE-LOMBARD-paramount-TRUE-CONFESSION-170pp-RARE/163116638406?hash=item25fa8260c6. It's a way to get some Lombard history in your hot little hands.