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Monday, 1 August 2011

Box Set Monday #5: Carole Lombard

The star of today's "Box Set Monday" post is Carole Lombard, the gorgeous, tremendously talented Queen of Screwball Comedy.

Twentieth Century, 1934
My Man Godfrey, 1936
Nothing Sacred, 1937
True Confession, 1937
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 1941
To Be or Not To Be, 1942

I saw Twentieth Century for the first time today and just had to put it in the box set (it knocked out No Man of Her Own). Carole plays a lingerie model who is turned into a huge theatrical star by Oscar Jaffe (incredibly played by John Barrymore), a Broadway impresario. It encompasses everything a screwball comedy should and does so with such ease that you become entirely engrossed in the crazy and hilarious goings-on.

My Man Godfrey is the quintessential Lombard film, I think. If you don't end up loving dizzy, scatter-brained heiress Irene Bullock, then there's something wrong with you. William Powell also gives a smashing performance as the butler and only sane member of the Bullock household. MMG one of the most perfect examples of screwball comedy you will ever see, and I would not hesitate in using this film to lure people into the Old Hollywood downward spiral of obsession. ;D

The third film in the box set is Nothing Sacred, the first screwball comedy to be filmed in colour and Carole's only technicolour film (and yes, she is just as flawless in colour as in black and white!). Carole plays Hazel Flagg, a woman dying of radium poisoning. As such, she is invited to New York and becomes the talk of the town. Everything is smooth sailing until it's discovered that Hazel isn't actually dying...

True Confession is a wonderful comedy about husband and wife Helen and Ken Bartlett (Fred MacMurray). Helen is a writer and pathological liar, and Ken is a very honest lawyer. Going against against her husband's wishes and behind his back, Helen gets a job as a secretary. However, she soon finds herself in a bit of a pickle. I can't recommend this highly entertaining little film enough.  On a side note, Carole and Fred are one of my favourite '30s on-screen couples.  

One of Hitchcock's few comedy films, Mrs. and Mrs. Smith is a lively little film about a happily married couple who one day find out that they aren't actually married. Will they remarry or... ? The combination of Carole's perfect comedic timing, Robert Montgomery's pure brilliance, and Hitch's peerless skills as a director, makes this one of my all time favourite films.

To Be or Not To Be is a comedy drama (with an emphasis on drama) of the highest caliber. Most of the films in  this box set see Carole in slightly crazy comedic roles, but for the character of Maria Tura in this you have a chance to see her exercise her dramatic chops whilst still maintaining that glorious touch of Lombard comedic genius that we all know and love. TBONTB was the last film Carole made before her tragic death in a plane crash on January 16, 1942.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back for next installment of "Box Set Monday". 

As always, if you would like to contribute to this series please drop me a line either here, on twitter, by email or wherever else you may be able to find me online, and we'll hopefully be able to work something out. :)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting six-pack, though I would probably substitute "Hands Across The Table" for "True Confession."


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