I’m such a bad person for not updating the past few days. I spent about 6 hours yesterday reading everything I could about podcast production to make sure I get it all right, so I wasn’t slacking completely on the site.
I have a special love for Carole Lombard. While she’s not my absolute favorite actress (though she is up there on the list), I feel a bit of a connection to her. She was born in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her house is in what is just outside of Downtown in the West Central area where my brother lived for several years, so I’ve walked by it dozens and dozens of times. I’ve walked around inside of it four times. (Here’s a link to the website for the house, which is now a Bed and Breakfast) I’m a proud hometown girl, I love Fort Wayne, and I love that such a talented actress came from here.
Early in Lombard’s career in the 1930s, Hollywood didn’t quite know what to do with her. She was placed in several different kinds of films: dramas, light comedies, even musicals (the thoroughly bizarre and off the wall We’re Not Dressing). By the mid-1930s she’d found her niche as a screwball comedian. But a few years later she was on the list of actresses being seriously considered to play Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. Lombard wanted the role, but she had to prove herself as a dramatic actress. So she made a brief string of dramas, where she showed her range and excellent dramatic skills.
Virtue (1932) – An early light dramatic romance between street walker Lombard and cab driver Pat O’Brien. It’s another of the very common ‘Prostitute marries and husband finds out about her past after the fact’ stories, but this one handles it really well and is moe convincing than most.
Supernatural (1933) – Actually not a drama, but a horror/mystery film. Yeah, but you never figured you’d see Lombard in one of these. It’s a really creepy film with good atmosphere.
Bolero (1934) – Lombard showed her dancing skills in this drama about… yeah, dancing. She makes a really good team with George Raft, in a pretty unexpected, but likable role.
Made For Each Other (1939) – One of my favorite Lombard films. She stars with Jimmy Stewart in this story of the ups and downs of marriage. It’s really a beautiful film, simply put together, but brilliantly acted by its leads.
In Name Only (1939) – A solid melodrama with Cary Grant. She and Grant have really good chemistry. It would have been nice to see them in a comedy together. This was actually their third film together. They were both in Sinners in the Sun and The Eagle and the Hawk (one was a thriller, the other a war movie), but Grant wasn’t the lead in those films. As great as Lombard’s performance is in In Name Only, Kay Francis steals the show as Grant’s bitchtastic wife.
Vigil In the Night (1940) – Kind of a weak and dull melodrama with Lombard giving a good, if not a little sappy, performance as a nurse who blames herself for her sister’s tragic mistake.
They Knew What They Wanted (1940) – This is a really unique and lovely romance, and one you wouldn’t expect. Lombard’s love interest in this one is Charles Laughton, and it’s a really sweet love story. It’s also a little racy (Lombard becomes pregnant by another man). Kind of hard to believe this one got past the censors.
By Katie Richardson