No one needs a reason to remember Carole. Or to dedicate a post in her honor. But I do so today because it happens to be the anniversary of her death (January 16, 1942). And because there’s fun to share.
Although Carole Lombard left this world in a tragic way and far sooner that she should have, I can’t be sad thinking about her even on a day like today. She was such a bright star with an outstanding flair for comedy that she evokes nothing but smiles and fond remembrances. And so – here are a few…
“She was so alive, modern, frank, and natural that she stands out like a beacon on a lightship in this odd place called Hollywood.” – Barbara Stanwyck
Now, a few words on a silent film in which Carole appeared in 1928, one of the several slapstick comedies she did for Mack Sennett that year, The Campus Carmen directed by Alf Goulding. While Carole is top-billed in a few of the copies of the film I saw online and third-billed in others, the latter is actually the role she plays in the movie – a relatively minor one with Daphne Pollard playing the main role. Still, the movie is a hoot.
The premise is simple – the students of Sunnyside Girls School receive permission to put on a production of “Carmen” and they’re all really excited about it. “Some of the girls slept in dormitories – but most of ’em wore pajamas.” (I know! That makes no sense!)
Anyway – as the movie opens the group is having a massive pillow fight. Well, except for Fanny, a large girl who’s enjoying some chocolates – “she’s nature’s gift to the candy industry.” Oh, and Tillie Tooler (Pollard) who’d left the sleeping quarters to take a shower. “Tillie wanted to sing in “Carmen” and probably would.” When Carole hears Tillie coming back toward the dormitory she quickly plans for the group to surprise her with a paddling of pillows. However, instead of Tillie walking into the surprise attack it’s the Dean of the school who walks in. The Dean, “just a vinegar bottle in the pantry of life,” is good and truly walloped, which results in their “Carmen” being called off.
BUT, when we next see the troupe it’s backstage on opening night! It turns out that the students are able to hire a hall and put on their production after all. Then we see the sorriest production of “Carmen” ever. But I laughed at many parts of this – even when I didn’t want to because the gags are so silly. There really is nothing special about The Campus Carmen, yet watching it was a well-spent 16+ minutes.
And now for a special treat – Carole on the radio, starring in two fantastic adaptations alongside a few other greats.
First, the Gulf Screen Guild Theater production, “Tailored By Toni” starring Carole, Spring Byington, Edward Everett Horton, and James Stewart with host, George Murphy from March 12, 1939.
And also from Gulf Screen Guild Theater, “The Awful Truth” starring Carole alongside Robert Young and Ralph Bellamy: (Click on the following image)