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Sheet music, now and later

"Swing High, Swing Low" is renowned as the only movie Carole Lombard actually sang before the camera (in others, she was dubbed). We have two examples of Lombard-related sheet music available at ebay.

You'll have to hurry for this one -- British sheet music for "True Confession." It expires at 12:32 a.m. (Eastern) Friday. It's in very good condition, with bids beginning at $19.99. All the info is at

The seller of this one describes it as "oddball" sheet music -- the title song from "Swing High, Swing Low." Here it is in close-up:

It looks hard-written, but isn't. Bids open at $4; the auction ends at 12:19 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday. Find out more at
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Streaming with 'Godfrey'

Every now and then, it's good to remember why we love a film. So it is with arguably the greatest screwball of them all, "My Man Godfrey," starring my favorite Golden Age actress and actor, Carole Lombard and William Powell. Above is the front page of a two-page Universal advertising spread in the Sept. 5, 1936 Motion Picture Herald, days before its premiere at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

(The reference to the "new" Universal concerns the newly-installed post-Laemmle family ownership of the studio. "Godfrey" was one of the movies the new brass hoped would revitalize Universal's stodgy image.)

Last Friday -- the day Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. ran "Godfrey" and others directed by Gregory La Caca -- the progressive British paper The Guardian extolled the praises of "Godfrey" in what it calls "My streaming gem," a "series of writers recommending underseen films available to stream. The newspaper labeled it "a sly screwball comedy from 1936."

Pamela Hutchinson's lead paragraph:

"Sometimes escapist films only need to take the audience a few steps, or city blocks, from reality. Gregory La Cava's 'My Man Godfrey,' a peerless comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age, is a screwball with a social conscience. This 1936 classic is a glamorous 90 minutes of frivolity that doesn't do so much explore the divided society of the Great Depression, as take the imbalance of the haves and have-nots as the launchpad for a series of grimly bitter jokes. With slammers of punchlines."

Yes, "Godfrey" could be the unofficial movie of the "Occupy" movement, though neither presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden nor his former chief rival Bernie Sanders had been born when it first ran; neither is quite that old. (Both might have seen it on the "late show" in their adolescent years.)

Hutchinson writes, "The humour in 'My Man Godfrey' is madcap, but in the best way, and the main source of comedy is the vulgar behavior of the spoiled, witless Bullock family. Their zigzagging conversations are filled with entertaining gibberish about proteges and pets, until their disregard for the wellbeing of those who work for them becomes as ridiculous as it is mean."

She also notes La Cava liked to improvise dialogue on the set. Hutchinson quotes Lombard as saying any fan of the film should "credit 75 percent of it to Gregory La Cava, who directed it, wrote all the dialogue, and literally gave birth to it."

Perhaps so, but "Godfrey" was orphaned by the Academy Awards, going 0-for-6, including losses in all four acting categories, Lombard, Powell, Alice Brady and Mischa Auer..

Hutchinson calls Carole's Irene Bullock character "one of the best of a bad bunch: sincere if stupid, kind-hearted if misguided," adding "Lombard remains the queen of the screwball subgenre, and her Irene, who talks, and acts, in an outlandish stream of consciousness, is one of her finest creations." As exquisite a creation as the Travis Banton gown we first see her in:

Read Hutchinson's observations at
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Herald-ing a 'Dressing' in Missouri

Paramount's "We're Not Dressing" was a star-studded romp that hit movie theaters in the spring of 1934, roughly the same time as another Carole Lombard film, Columbia's "Twentieth Century."

Above is a herald promoting the movie, which ran at the Dickinson Theater in Fayette, Mo., in early May 1934.

What the place looked like later, after it changed its name to the Grand:

The theater closed in 2014, leaving Fayette (population 2,700) without a movie venue.

The herald, measuring 8 3/4" x 11 3/4", is up for auction at eBay, with the initial bid at $9.99. The auction closes at 8:45 p.m. (Eastern) May 7. To bid or learn more, visit
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Carole beaucoup, 'Pour Vous'

Welcome to a Carole Lombard Paramount pic that's new to me, p1202-64. It's not up for auction (at least not anywhere I've seen), but it's a bit different, placing Carole in a faux-tropical setting. From the coding, it's probably from early 1931, although it doesn't appear connected to any of Lombard's films from about the first half of that year ("It Pays To Advertise,""Up Pops The Devil," "Man Of The World," "Ladies' Man" or "I Take This Woman").

By in May 1931, a different Lombard image appeared on the other side of "the pond," specifically in France:

It's from the weekly movie magazine Pour Vous, which published 603 issues from its debut in 1928 until its demise amidst the Nazi occupation in 1940. More intellectual and sophisticated than its American fanzine counterparts (not to mention bigger, a whopping 12" x 17"), Pour Vous helped influence future generations of French film buffs. (The Museum of Modern Art in New York ran an exhibit on the magazine in 2013 --

Lombard is pictured in a garden, most likely on the Paramount lot. Two months later, Carole again was on the back cover:

Then in August 1934, Lombard was a front cover subject, in a photo from her Paramount potboiler, "White Woman":

All three issues are complete, with lots of photos to compensate for any lack of French.

Both 1931 issues sell for $9.99. The one from May is at

Its July counterpart at

As for the issue from 1934, it sells for $14. Find it at
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Brighten the refrigerator where you are

We're all spending more time around our refrigerators these days, if not entirely of our own volition. So why not make it more aesthetically pleasing?

Carole Lombard can help. This Nickolas Muray color portrait of hers has been reproduced as a refrigerator magnet measuring 2 1/2"x 3 1/2", and you can buy it for $7.99. Simply go to

But what if you have one of those avocado-shaded iceboxes from the '70s, something Carol Brady might have ordered? Lombard can help here, too, although the "green dress" she's wearing is artificially colored:

It too has a $7.99 asking price; get all the info at

Stay safe, stay cool (in multiple ways).
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Our generation's female 'Bellamy'?

It's near impossible not to feel sorry for Ralph Bellamy, who in so many Golden Age romantic comedies -- such as in "Hands Across The Table" with Carole Lombard -- was cast as the "third wheel," the well-meaning but bland guy who never gets the girl.

In "Hands," he loses the affection of Lombard's manicurist character to pseudo-wealthy Fred MacMurray; in two later rom-com gems, "The Awful Truth" and "His Girl Friday," he's conquered by comedic superhuman Cary Grant (hardly a fair contest).

Yes, there were "other woman" characters played by the likes of Gail Patrick, though they more often were traditional antagonists (think "My Man Godfrey"). But rom-coms of more recent vintage have a different type of gal who doesn't get the guy...she's simply too high-strung for the dashing hero.

New York Times critic Alexis Soloski described these ill-fated characters earlier this week ( Why do they lose out to the "free spirit"? Simply put, they're deemed too high-strung, too demanding, for the leading man.

"The older and more married I get, and the more I think about marriage as a practice women are taught to desire that still disproportionately benefits men," Soloski wrote. "I wonder what's so terrible about a woman who makes her expectations explicit from the start."

She specifically cites Katharine, Sigourney Weaver's corporate character in "Working Girl" (1988) who while certainly an antagonist type is also shown as more than competent. She loses the affections of executive Harrison Ford for waifish Melanie Griffith.

Fast-forward 19 years to another New York-set rom-com, the fantasy "Enchanted," and the dumped woman, fashion designer Nancy (Idina Menzel) can't hold onto lawyer boyfriend Robert (Patrick Dempsey). Not when her rival is fairy-tale and former animated princess Giselle (Amy Adams), magically dropped into modern-day Gotham.

At least Nancy gets a consolation prize of sorts -- Prince Edward (James Marsden), who's entered the real world searching for Giselle, who gives him the Bellamy treatment. He then meets Nancy; "Too overwhelmed to make any demands, she follows him to fairyland and they marry immediately," with Nancy now in animated form and presumably able to rehearse for "Frozen."

Some may argue Soloski simply reflects the upscale Manhattan mindset of the Times audience, but, she notes:

"Undergirding these characters, almost all of them created by men, is a troubling male fantasy, that the ideal woman will depend on a man almost entirely, but ask nothing from him and that women who do ask are too much trouble. Who decided that women who know what they want and ask for it are monsters and that men who don't ask and don't know are simps?"

This brings to mind one of the two rom-com scripts I've created, "Stand Tall!" Lead character Colleen Cossitt, the Vegas waitress inadvertently inflated into a 16-foot-1 1/8 giant, isn't necessarily dependent on scientist Keswick Fletcher, whose mishap made her big. But each does right by the other because it's the right thing to do. Later, Colleen asserts her independence, overruling the disapproving Keswick when she's offered a chance to be a showroom headliner (for $1 million) at the casino where she once worked. (She hires Keswick as her manager for 10 percent of that total.)

Do I have a "dumped woman" in "Stand Tall!"? Yes, I do -- Cassandra Maitland, the haughty, wealthy, widowed ex-showgirl who nixed the 5-foot-4 3/8 Colleen's attempt to become a member of her old-school Vegas showgirl troupe (and who, unbeknownst to Ms. Cossitt, was having an affair with Keswick; he later finds true love with the larger-than-life Colleen). But by story's end Cassandra, now a traditional antagonist, is brought down to size...literally. (That's all I'll say for now.)

Shed no tears for Bellamy, BTW. His characters may rarely have gotten the girl, but he saved the free world (as Franklin D. Roosevelt in both the stage and screen versions of "Sunrise At Campobello").
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A new pic I know little about

Wish I had more information about this Carole Lombard portrait. I don't know when it was taken, what studio it's from, who took it, and so on. (The back of the photo is blank.) Anyone hazard to guess?

Here's what I do know: It's 8" x 10", not an original (it apparently dates from the 1950s, according to the seller) And it sells for $29.99, though you can make an offer. Visit to find out more about this lovely image.
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Bill and Carole go west, costumed...but who's with them?

As actors, Carole Lombard and William Powell knew the power of costumes, and took advantage of it at parties, both while married and afterwards. Take this pic of them above at a Kay Francis-hosted event in the fall of 1933, for instance, less than two months after their divorce. Or these photos from a 1932 party evoking the 1890s (the decade Powell was born in):

Now my Facebook friend Pat Decker has tracked down another Lombard-Powell party pic, this one with a western/pioneer theme:

This got me thinking this "what if": Suppose that in the early 1950s, the co-creators of the "Gunsmoke" radio series, Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston had persuaded Powell -- not the superlative radio actor William Conrad -- to voice Marshall Dillon when the show began in 1952?

At first, you might deem Powell too urbane for an oater...but from the start "Gunsmoke," set in 1870s Dodge City, Kans., was designed as a western for adults, a theme largely continued in the James Arness TV version that ran for two decades. Powell easily could have conveyed Dillon's world-weariness ("It's a chancy job, and it makes a man watchful...and a little lonely") and intelligence, just as Conrad so brilliantly did. (Hear episodes of this classic, well-written series at

Not that Powell would've been a candidate for the TV version, either; he would have been too old (63 when it premiered in 1955), just as Conrad was too heavy-set. This pic of the radio cast, when they hoped to make the transition to television, proves it.

Decker had a question about this newly discovered Lombard-Powell pic: Who's with them? Darned if I know. Do any of you dare take a guess?
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Post-coronavirus Hollywood: Will 'normal' be back?

I heard on KNX radio this morning experts predict the unemployment rate in southern California, whose formerly thriving economy was suddenly pummeled in less than two months by the coronavirus pandemic, could escalate to 31 percent before this is all through. To provide context, when the region was in the throes of the Great Depression 88 years ago, unemployment topped out at 28 percent.

In other words, we are all Godfrey at the proverbial city dump...but unlike William Powell's Godfrey, no flighty but good-hearted socialite (Carole Lombard's Irene Bullock) will come to our rescue.

So many businesses throughout SoCal are hurting -- oil, aerospace, high tech -- but it's safe to say that they aren't the jobs most people associate with the area. Rather, it's this:

Hollywood -- movies, television, video games and so much else in entertainment. On about March 12, soon after Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson came down with coronavirus while he was shooting a film in Australia (both have since recovered and returned to the U.S.), the industry essentially ground to a halt. Very little has happened since.

Just as in the days of the flu epidemic of 1918-1919, when many movie theaters shut down and sending the film industry in a different direction (, nearly all theaters are closed to promote "social distancing." (There's a been a revival of business at the few drive-in theaters that still exist, leading some to predict that staple of '50s and '60s America might make a comeback.)

But television -- broadcast, cable, streaming and so on -- has really taken a hit. From the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments to big-league baseball to golf and tennis majors, live sports has been wiped off the map. Additionally, scripted TV series have been left in limbo; some had a handful of episodes to complete their season (or entire run, as is the case with the CW cult favorite "Supernatural"), while still others don't know their ultimate fate.

This also traditionally is pilot season for the networks, leading to what the industry labels "upfronts," as it wheels out its new shows to potential corporate advertisers. However, of the more than 50 potential pilots created, only one was completed before the shutdown...

..."B Positive," from sitcom king Chuck Lorre, whose series include my favorite show "Mom" (whose seventh season ended two episodes shy of completion) and my top rookie series this year, "Bob [Hearts] Abishola." (Earlier this week, Lorre donated $250,000 to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is in major financial difficulty from assisting -- and feeding -- needy and hungry students.) Annaleigh Ashford will play the female lead, a rough-hewn woman who on the spur of the moment donates a kidney to a newly divorced dad.

More on the problems facing the TV industry at, while Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-creator of the Latino-oriented revival of Norman Lear's "One Day At A Time," discusses the challenges of safely re-entering production (

Asked, "Do you think live audiences will be possible anytime soon," Kellett replied, "No, I don't." Not good news for multi-cam series such as "Mom" which derive much of their energy from an audience.

A week ago, Deadline Hollywood examined the many hurdles facing production companies before they get the green light to make movies and TV series ( No one's entirely sure of the protocols, which at this time are moot since no one's working (and may not until the fall), but safety will be the industry's premier priority.

But while many movies have converted to streaming, others -- most notably the big-budget "tentpole" films -- were pushed back to the holiday season or peak viewing periods in 2021. How will people be persuaded to return to theaters, especially if they are skeptical about their safety? Theater chains, many of whom were troubled beforehand, are weighing different strategies (

Fortunately, those of us who live in the past, so to speak, have alternative outlets -- Turner Classic Movies, the Criterion Channel and so on. We'll spend plenty of time in the movie palaces of our minds.

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This time, Carole gets to say 'roll 'em"

Nearly 15 months ago, we ran this photo of Carole Lombard with a new toy of hers -- a Bell & Howell movie camera -- enabling this professional film actress to take motion pictures away from the set, something most civilians now could do ( A slightly different pose from that 1929 session:

Now we've tracked down a third pic of Carol -- remember, the '29 Lombard was at Pathe, which didn't use an "e" in her first name -- and camera:

Even better, the back of the pic reveals a snipe:

An enlarged version of the wording:

A delightful photo of Lombard, then age 20. And it can be yours.

This 8" x 10" original, in excellent to near-mint condition, is up for auction at eBay; bids begin at $74.95, with the auction closing at 7:27 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. Get in the picture, so to speak, by visiting
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