After a hectic first half of 1931, things quieted down for Carole Lombard in the second half. Marriage to William Powell and a few illnesses (including one that prevented her from participating in the screen adaptation of Broadway's "The Greeks Had A Word For It"; the last word was changed to "Them" to please the Hays office) took care of that.
But another adaptation -- this of a novel by well-known author Rupert Hughes -- put Carole before the Paramount cameras in her first top-billed role. Would it "score" with moviegoers? Let's find out in our latest edition of "Cinematic Sundays."
Actually, Lombard apparently was connected with the project as early as June of '31; otherwise, the wording of this ad for "I Take This Woman" in the Hartford Courant was merely a coincidence:
Early on, look who were projected as Carole's co-stars -- Charles Starrett (in the July 9 Nevada State Journal of Reno)...
...Gene Raymond (in the Aug. 1 Moberly (Mo.) Monitor-Index)...
...Phillips Holmes in the Aug. 15 Canonsburg (Pa.) Daily Notes...
...and Richard Arlen (Aug. 23 Pittsburgh Press):
But before August ended, pleurisy would lay Lombard low, taking her out of "Greeks." Former silent star Eileen Percy, who now covered Hollywood for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reported a conversation with her in the Oct. 13 issue:
Two days later, the New York Daily News reported the inability to find complementary leads was stymieing production:
On the 16th, Percy tossed another leading man into the mix -- Joel McCrea:
Rewrites apparently were slowing production, if the Nov. 9 Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune was accurate:
Finally, one male lead was cast -- Paul Lukas, according to the Nov. 10 Los Angeles Times:
Two days later, the Bristol (Pa.) Daily Courier reported the other -- Ricardo Cortez, borrowed from RKO:
Now things were falling into place...but could Carole have three leading men? From the headline in the Nov. 22 Montana Standard of Butte, apparently so:
Arthur Pierson (1901-1975) was a native of Oslo, Norway who acted on stage and in film, then became a director.
From the Dec. 27 Nevada State Journal, we learn Lombard was "an expert aquaplanist." What?
It's an antiquated term for waterskier, which Carole at least posed as one for the film. (We know she tried her hand at surfing in 1928.)
Three days into 1932, the Montana Standard noted the film had undergone 40 previews (probably not before audiences), indicative of production problems:
Finally, it was ready, as reported in the Jan. 19 Los Angeles Times:
Ads for "No One Man" were unveiled Jan. 21 in the New York Daily News...
...the Brooklyn Eagle...
...and the Detroit Free Press on Jan. 22:
The Brooklyn Paramount stage show featured two acts with future Lombard ties -- Russ Columbo and the comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen. Over at Times Square, it had one in Bing Crosby, but topping the bill were the Boswell Sisters.
Critic reaction on both sides of the East River on Jan. 23 was middling, to say the least. First, the Eagle:
Then, the News:
Brooklyn saw a multitude of mistakes, while Manhattan gave it a mere two stars and put its review below a Charlie Chan film. Ouch.
"Mae Tinee" in the Jan. 30 Chicago Tribune was a bit more charitable:
Needless to say, Carole's debut as a top-billed star left a lot to be desired, although the muddled production did her in.
While we may reach mid-October next Sunday, we plan on giving you some sun, as in "Sinners In The Sun."