For the Love of Lombard

Carole Lombard (1908-1942) is the continuing and concluding honoree of a 23-film retrospective of her luminous career in talking pictures, of which she appeared in no fewer than 42 in her tragically abbreviated career, cut short by a fatal plane accident on her way back from a war-bond ceremony in Indiana. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the nation in mourning this buoyantly spirited screen actress. The last seven Lombard movies in the Film Forum retrospective are as follows:

On Sunday, Nov. 30, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), Hitch’s only nonviolent Hollywood project, with Robert Montgomery, Gene Raymond, Jack Carson, Philip Merivale, Betty Compson and Lucile Watson, screens at 1, 4:20 and 7:40. William K. Howard’s The Princess Comes Across (1936), with Fred MacMurray, Douglass Dumbrille, Alison Skipworth, William Frawley, Porter Hall, Sig Ruman and Mischa Auer, plays at 2:50, 6:10 and 9:30.

On Monday, Dec. 1, there’s a triple header, with A. Edward Sutherland’s Up Pops the Devil (1931), with Norman Foster, at 1, 5:15 and 9:30; Fred Newmeyer’s Fast and Loose (1930; dialogue by Preston Sturges), with Miriam Hopkins, at 2:30 and 6:45; and Frank Tuttle’s It Pays to Advertise (1931), with Norman Foster, Eugene Pallette and Louise Brooks (!), at 3:55 and 8:10.

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, John Cromwell’s In Name Only (1939), with Cary Grant, Kay Francis, Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson and Peggy Ann Garner, shows at 1, 4:40 and 8:20, and his Made for Each Other (1939), with James Stewart, Charles Coburn, Lucile Watson, Alma Kruger, Ward Bond and Louise Beavers, shows at 2:50, 6:30 and 10:10. In the latter film, Lombard bursts into tears upon seeing an oxygen tent being wheeled into her sick child’s hospital room; Life magazine announced that Lombard’s tears signaled the end of the screwball comedy, of which Lombard was the high priestess. Fortunately, though World War II loomed on the horizon, so did Preston Surges and Billy Wilder, but neither ever got the chance to direct Lombard.

asarris@observer.com

For the Love of Lombard