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Cinematic Sundays: 'Up Pops The Devil'



Carole Lombard and Norman Foster were re-teamed (along with Skeets Gallagher) in "Up Pops The Devil" following their success in early 1931's "It Pays To Advertise." It's this week's entry in our "Cinematic Sundays" series.



While "It Pays To Advertise" was adapted from a 1914 play, "Up Pops The Devil" was as contemporary as one could get for 1931. In fact, it was performed on stage while the film version was produced and released, as witness this from the April 26, 1931 Oakland Tribune:



The premise is that while a writer in New York's Greenwich Village struggles to make ends meet, his wife gets the radical idea of becoming a dancer to keep the household financially solvent. It causes all sorts of upheaval.

Lombard's rising stock at Paramount was made evident on Jan. 23, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported she would replace Nancy Carroll, one of the studio's top stars, as the female lead:



Louella Parsons noted Carole's rising status in her Feb. 3 column run in Hearst's first newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner:



"In Defense Of Love" was a preliminary title for the film that became known as "I Take This Woman."

Someone at the Muncie (Ind.) Star Press was an avid Paramount fan, because that paper regularly ran its press releases, including this one on April 5 on how weather effects are done on soundstages:



Among the supporting players was Paramount's newly-hired Lilyan Tashman, the April 22 Logansport (Ind.) Pharos-Tribune reported:



"Up Pops The Devil" finally hit theaters in mid-May. Here's the review in the May 16 New York Daily News:



Across the East River that day was a review from the Brooklyn Eagle:



The Los Angeles Times on May 23 called the adaptation "talky" and "static":



"Sleep 'N' Eat" was the pseudonym for black comic actor Willie Best, whose portrayal of a laundryman was arguably the most racist portrayal of a black person in any Lombard talkie (several other buffoonish stereotypes were seen in Mack Sennett two-reelers). Best later got to use his real name and drew praise from the likes of Bob Hope (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/121768.html).

In San Francisco, the Examiner's May 29 review noted that on the bill was a revival, nearly as old a one as you could get -- 1903's "The Great Train Robbery":



The Chicago Tribune used someone with the pseudonym "Mae Tinee" to write film reviews (a far cry from its Gene Siskel half a century later). To call this June 2 review gushy would be an understatement:



The June 4 Wisconsin State Journal had this review, including e.e.cummings-style downscale headlines:



Lombard: "Smooth, blonde, just right."

Ethel Merman, future Broadway belter (and Lombard co-star in "We're Not Dressing"), a blues singer? Well, that's what they called it in 1931.

In the June 11 Pittsburgh Press, critic Karl Krug wrote Lombard was improving "by leaps and bounds" as an actress:



The rival Post-Gazette ran this ad on the 13th:



"Spicy And Audaciously Daring"!

And the June 19 Alexandria (La.) Town Talk promoted the movie with not one, not two, but three ads -- all on the same page!




We'll next examine Carole's two films with future husband William Powell, beginning with "Man Of The World."
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