Tracking Carole Lombard movies from the first half of 1931 is rather confusing. Paramount released five titles of her during those six months, including two with William Powell, whom she'd marry in late June. We're reviewing "Man Of The World" as this week's entry in "Cinematic Sundays."
"Man Of The World" is the first Lombard-Powell collaboration released, but not the first film they made; that honor goes to "Ladies' Man," our entry next week. Indeed, "Man Of The World" was noted as Powell's swan song for the studio, as he'd just signed with Warners (as did Kay Francis, his co-star in "Ladies' Man" and until Myrna Loy arrived, arguably the actress most associated with him on screen). His status was noted as such by syndicated columnist Robbin Coons in the March 5 Asbury Park (N.J.) Press:
Lombard initially wasn't cast as the female lead -- Jean Arthur was -- but the change was announced in mid-January in papers such as the Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald on Jan. 16:
Also note the film's initial title, "Cavalier Of The Streets."
Richard Wallace was announced as its director in the Jan. 18 Muncie (Ind.) Star Press:
A month later, Edward Goodman was named an uncredited co-director.
"Man Of The World" sort of indicates why the movie business then was called "the film factory." It was ready for release before March had expired. The Louisville Courier-Journal publicized its arrival March 15...
...as did an ad in the March 26 Detroit Free Press:
But the first papers to review it were on March 21 -- the New York Daily News...
...and the Brooklyn Eagle:
Neither was all that enthused with the film, although both thought Powell rose above the material.
(Also note the adjacent News story about four of its writers joining the staff of Fox Studios, among the influx of eastern journalists headed for Hollywood. My mother once told me that Francis Paterno, my paternal grandfather and at the time a reporter for the Eagle, had toyed with the idea of going west to write for the movies. He died in 1950, more than five years before I was born, so had he done so chances are I never would've existed, a la what potentially imperiled Marty McFly. Thanks, Grandpa.)
A News ad from the 21st that ran on the same page -- it opened at both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Paramount palaces:
The Fox hosted its San Francisco premiere, and the March 26 Examiner seemed as excited about Gershwin music on the program as the movie. (A banner headline for the film ran above the story.)
That page also advertised the movie:
The Los Angeles Times was as ambivalent about the film on March 28 (it actually ran in the late editions the night before) as the New York papers we cited, but Philip K. Scheuer praised both Powell and Lombard:
By now, we've come to appreciate the honest, independent reviews from the Pittsburgh dailies. "Man Of The World" didn't hit town until April. On the 16th, Karl Krug of the Press noted the cinematic return of native Pittsburgher Powell:
Meanwhile, the Post-Gazette's Harold W. Cohen reviewed in the following day and liked it too...though he ignored the hometown angle. (Take my word on the review, as the first column is a bit difficult to read.):
Cohen said Powell surmounts what he called a "lugubrious" script, and calls Lombard "better than she has ever been."
Next week: "Ladies' Man," Lombard-Powell, part II (or should that be part I?).