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The Princess Comes Across (#110 of 1)

Now and Forever: Early Carole Lombard at Film Forum

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Now and Forever: Early Carole Lombard at Film Forum
Now and Forever: Early Carole Lombard at Film Forum

[The Carole Lombard retrospective runs at Manhattan’s Film Forum from November 21st—December 2nd. Click here for more information.]

In at least seven movies, all of them comedies with serious undertones, the exuberant Carole Lombard became emblematic of the whole screwball comedy genre of the thirties, and she passed into folklore with her marriage to Clark Gable and her early death in a plane crash in 1942, at age 34. It’s her centenary this year, so there have been tributes, including a “star of the month” program on the indispensable Turner Classic Movies. TCM showed her seven wonders, starting with Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century (1934) and ending with Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be (1942). In between those very different peaks, Lombard was the archetypal madcap heiress in Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey (1936), a small town girl caught up in the publicity machine in the cutting Ben Hecht satire Nothing Sacred (1937), a manicurist on the make in Mitchell Leisen’s Hands Across the Table (1935), a congenital liar in the overlooked True Confession (1937), and a demanding, hot-to-trot wife for Alfred Hitchcock in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941).