Carole Lombard (1908-1942) made her debut as an actress at the age of 12 in Allan Dwan’s A Perfect Crime, in 1921. After finishing junior high school in 1925, she reentered films, but remained an obscure blond bombshell type until she got her big break in 1934, opposite John Barrymore in Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century, which—along with Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey (1936), opposite William Powell, to whom she was married in 1931 and from who she was divorced in 1933—opens the Bruce Goldstein selection of Lombard classics and clinkers at the Film Forum. Lombard’s career took a very long time to hit its stride, but soared to the heavens once it did. My Man Godfrey will play Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 and 22, at 2:45, 6:15 and 9:45. Twentieth Century screens those days at 1, 4:30 and 8.
On Sunday, Nov. 23, Wesley Buggles’ True Confession (1937), with Fred MacMurray and John Barrymore, shows at 2:55, 6:30 and 10:15. Mitchell Leisen’s Hands Across the Table (1935), with Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy, Astrid Allwyn and Marie Prevost, plays at 1, 4:35 and 8:20.
A triple bill of clinkers arrives on Monday, Nov. 24, starting with Edward Buzzell’s Easy Virtue (1932), with Pat O’Brien and Jack La Rue. It shows at 2:25, 6:35 and 10:45. Stuart Walker’s White Woman (1933), with Charles Laughton, plays at 3:45 and 7:55, and Alexander Hall’s Sinners in the Sun (1932), with Chester Morris and an early villainous Cary Grant, plays at 1, 5:10 and 9:20.
On Tuesday, Nov. 25, Wesley Ruggles’ No Man of Her Own (1932), with Clark Gable—in the only film he ever made with Lombard, whom he married seven years later—plays at 1:20, 4:35 and 7:50. Henry Hathaway’s Now and Forever, with Gary Cooper and Shirley Temple, a bigger box-office star in 1934 than either Cooper or Lombard, shows at 3, 6:15 and 9:30. Not bad for a double bill!
Wednesday, Nov. 26, brings two more clinkers, including Wesley Ruggles’ Bolero (1934), with George Raft as Lombard’s dance partner in Paris. Showtimes are 2:45, 6 and 9:15. Then there’s Norman Taurog’s We’re Not Dressing (1934), with Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman and Ray Milland; it shows at 1:10, 4:25 and 7:40.
On Thursday, Nov. 27, still more clinkers in a triple bill of Earle C. Kenton’s From Hell to Heaven (1933), with Jack Oakie, at 3:50 and 8; Lothar Mendes’ Ladies’ Man (1931), with William Powell and Kay Francis, at 1, 5:10 and 9:20; and Richard Wallace’s Man of the World, with William Powell and Guy Kibbee, at 2:25 and 6:35.
On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 28 and 29, Ernst Lubitsch’s classic, and Lombard’s sublime swan song, To Be or Not to Be (1942), with Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Sig Ruman and Felix Bressart, plays at 2:55, 6:20 and 9:50. William Wellman’s Nothing Sacred (1937), with Frederic March, Walter Connolly, Charles Wininger, Sig Ruman and Frank Fay, screens at 1:15, 4:45 and 8:15.
More Lombard classics and clinkers next week. Yet, in today’s copious but lean market, even the Lombard clinkers are worth seeing for just a glimpse of a great beauty on her way to immortality.