Early Lombard: A Review Of Kino Lorber’s Carole Lombard Box Set

by Rachel Bellwoar

If you only plan on watching three Carol Lombard films in your life, Kino Lorber’s Carol Lombard box set isn’t for you. If you’re a Lombard fan or someone who just hasn’t gotten to some of her bigger films, like Nothing Sacred or My Man Godfrey, yet, then this box set’s a pretty safe bet.

Chronologically, it’s actually a great place to start. Fast and Loose, Man of the World, and No Man of Her Own are all early films in Lombard’s career. They also feature Lombard with her future husbands. William Powell and Lombard married shortly after filming Man of the World, and while they were married to other people at the time, No Man of Her Own is the only picture Lombard ever did with her second husband, Clark Gable.

There may be other films that showcase Lombard’s talents more, but Kino was smart to package these films together as you really get to see her career rise over the course of these movies.

For starters, Fred C. Newmeyer‘s Fast and Loose isn’t a Lombard movie. Her name might be first on the packaging but Miriam Hopkins is the star, and if Hopkin’s acting isn’t always the most unaffected, there’s no denying how funny she is in scenes like she when she finds out her boyfriend, Henry (Charles Starret), is a mechanic and joins him under the car he’s working on. What puts a damper on this movie is the fact that her charms are wasted on a guy who doesn’t deserve them. Lombard is stuck in a wet blanket role as the love interest of Miriam’s brother, Bertie (Henry Wadsworth) and the gender ideals this movie pushes are very stuffy and irksome.

Lombard would later beat Hopkins out for the role of Connie in Wesley RugglesNo Man of Her Own, a film which shares a lot in common with Richard Wallace‘s Man of the World. Watching the two films together it’s easy to be struck by their similarities.

Both films show Lombard falling in love with a scam artist. With Stewart (Gable) it’s cards and with Michael (Powell) it’s blackmail, but Lombard’s Mary doesn’t really catch onto Michael’s gambit, whereas with Stewart, Connie realizes something is wrong.

All Lombard and Gable have to do is be near each other and their chemistry is off the charts. Lombard and Powell have a different chemistry but it’s there, like in one scene where they’re ostensibly talking about writing but it’s really a conversation about their feelings for each other. Characters don’t yell in Man of the World. They have a conversation and the screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz is very dialogue heavy. Lombard also has more to do in No Man of Her Own since Michael’s ex, Irene (Wynne Gibson), plays a bigger part in Man of the World.

The films couldn’t end more differently and in her commentary track, film historian, Samm Deighan, discusses the ending of Man of the World as well as how the film depicts Paris and what the film might’ve been like if French actor, Maurice Chevalier, had been cast in Powell’s role. Fast and Loose doesn’t come with a commentary track but film critic, Nick Pinkerton, provides one for No Man of Her Own. While Pinkerton isn’t as taken by Ruggles’ direction, the film has some great transitions, including a double swipe when Stewart finds out who Connie is and immediately shows up in the library where she works.

The Carole Lombard Collection I is available now on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber.

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