carole lombard

Today marks 74 years since Carole Lombard died suddenly at age 33. She was the victim, along with her mother and one of Clark’s closest friends, of a fiery plane crash near Las Vegas.

A difficult day for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard fans, as in a way it ended both of their lives. Carole’s life was over and with it went Clark’s entire way of life; he was never the same.

Here is a bit of a collection of articles in her memory:

From the article Goodbye, Carole:

“I have seen flames around the plane and there seems to be nobody left alive.”

Out of far West vastness eight thousand feet above the Nevada-California line, came a witness’s horrified sentence, blasting out incredible news. For on that plane were fifteen soldiers. And Carole Lombard. Flickering across the whole world went an incredulous, heart-aching cry, “Carole Lombard isn’t dead!”

It just wasn’t possible. Death and Carole didn’t make sense. A big white-faced man battered at the people who tried to stop him from smashing his way through to the impenetrable mountain to prove it couldn’t be so. Clark Gable, a face and a name known to every person in the country, was an aghast, incredulous husband. “She can’t be dead—“ But in the list of names that ticked out of teletypes everywhere came one line, “Mrs. Clark Gable, Hollywood, California.”

The President of the United States sent a wire. The Civil Aeronautics Board reported everybody dead. Did a gamin spirit, extricating itself from the wreck, tossing back its gay gold hair, laugh suddenly at all this and stretch its hands to us?

Carole Lombard can’t be dead…

She was Hollywood. At the smartest parties, there was a blonde-haired girl, magnificently dressed, swaggering, assured. She’d battered her way from but parts and slumps, from failures and delays to a place near the top, and she was loving it. Hollywood rampant—a white dining table with cushioned chairs like Roman benches, clothes, clothes, clothes—

And then all that went gaily overboard. She met Clark Gable. Clark was all he-man. A boy from Cadiz, Ohio who’d come up the hard way, he found Hollywood glitter and glamour a lot of expensive hooey. “Let me get enough money to have a sure ten thousand a year,” the kid who’d been a fighter and a laborer and a bum maintained, “and I’m all set.” “What about Carole?” friends asked, and Clark said coolly, confidently, “Carole will take it—and like it.”

And how she did! Overnight the lusty, swearing, striding, arrogant gal became a woman. Overnight she became a wife. Crazily human—the gags, the trick presents, the insane jests that took place on every lot where Clark and Carole played, were tradition. But they were man and wife. They slipped away and said words that made them one, and Carole meant it. Her career was second. The man she loved came first.

Clark wanted a ranch, so they bought one out in the Valley. Carole hauled on a sunbonnet and marched about the chicken yard. She studied the alfalfa crops, and she sat up nights listening to weather reports and planning protection for the precious citrus trees. No tiny anxious lantern burning in a single orchard represented more sincere love and hominess than did the lights that blazed on the Gable ranch.

She can’t be dead—

From the article What the Loss of Carole Lombard Means to Clark Gable:

Even when the broken bodies were finally brought down from the mountain, he could hardly be persuaded to leave. It was not until the following Wednesday at the burial service for his wife and his mother-by-marriage and his dear friend that he finally seemed able to gain some strength and courage to go on with life from the very heroism of Carole’s death.

It was only then that he comprehended the shrine in the world’s memory that she will forever occupy, this laughing tomboy, this Sennett bathing beauty who rose to make the highest salary any girl star ever earned, who married and divorced Bill Powell and then married the most sought-after man on earth, this girl who, through death, became the first heroine of the Second World War. She was all flame and passion and generosity, this Lombard girl, and she died as she had lived, gallantly, heroically, doing her duty by her country.

Meanwhile the Encino house is up for sale. Jessie, the cook whom Carole had had for years, Miss Garceau, the secretary, are devastated. The little gag presents have all been destroyed and even the very horses in their stalls and the hand-groomed cows and the cackling chickens seem to sense that desolation has enveloped them.

Shooting on “Somewhere I’ll Find You” has been suspended indefinitely.

At MGM and in Hollywood you will find those who say there will be no tying Clark down to acting now, that he will insist upon going into direct war service. In Hollywood they are talking about “The Carole Lombard Memorial Bond Drive” and some argue that Gable will go on tour, selling bonds in her name.

But the other half of Hollywood, those who know Clark best, argue that he will do both, war work and his own work, and I, personally, side with them.

Clark has long been very aware of his duty to his public and in this loss he will be doubly conscious of the loss in millions of homes today. He will be conscious that that one plane, which destroyed his heart’s security and rent asunder twenty-one other families, is only one small incident in days that are darkened with the memory of Pearl Harbor, and Manila, and the siege of Singapore and the blood on the snows of Russia.

Clark Gable has in him the power to make people forget these things for a little while. That is his responsibility—and his cure.

He will, I am convinced, go on with it after a little while, go on with his handsome head held high and with Carole’s beautiful, heroic image locked within his heart. And may God bless him and keep him while he walks this lonely road.

From the article A Letter to Heaven:

Clark called a day after you left and asked: “What time do we start our picture in the morning?”  “Eight o’clock.” “Holy cats,” he yelled, “that’s the middle of the night—I haven’t worked for four months—maybe I won’t be able to make it!” That tickled me. At seven-thirty your Clark was there. And he started the picture—was in the very first shot—with twenty-one kids from nine years down. They pulled at his coat and yelled “Bang, bang” in his ears and they interrupted his dialogue. He worked. He was swell. You know he would be! The next day, Friday, all day long we talked about you, Clark, Ruggles and I. I asked him how all your pets were. He laughed, “Wait till ‘Maw’ finds out that the two dogs and the cat slept with me last night.” I knew you’d get a bang out of that. He called the air office every hour to see if you’d be on time. He was planning such funny jokes for your homecoming.

Friday afternoon, just before we stopped shooting, the boys pulled a gag on Clark. He was to enter the scene carrying a Gladstone bag. The boys loaded it with five dozen books. Ruggles said: “Okay, Clark, just come in and throw the bag across the room.” Clark put his hand down to grab the case. We were all watching. “Holy smokes!” he shouted, “I’m nailed to the floor!” I knew you’d get a kick out of that, too.

You know, Clark is a sweetheart, Carole, dear. After ten years of great success, he’s just like he was—only nicer. That’s because he knows you.

Outside they’re yelling something about a beautiful girl killed in a crash. She was coming home from a mission of mercy. Her mother too.

You were coming to visit us next week…

Now, about Clark. He couldn’t be with people who loved you both more. Besides that, he’s with all the boys who have been around him since he first started here at MGM. They will dog his tracks to help him through.

We’ll cry. We’ll cry lots. None of will want the other to know how much. And then we’ll be laughing again because we’ll be talking about those crazy, dear moments you let us share with you. You are blessed with all the fullness of a complete life, for to know you is to love you. There is no one in all this world who can ever take your place. So, you’ll be with us, I betcha money.

Wherever you are at this moment, darling, the place is good. And those therein are made brighter with your laughter.

From the article How Clark Gable is Conquering Loneliness:

It is a strange phenomenon, but any psychologist will tell you that the greatest sense of grief from a death is frequently felt three months after the event. Gable hit this period in mid-April. It was during that a Hollywood member of the Signal Corps talked to him about the possibility of his getting a commission in this branch of the service. Gable brooded on this in silence for days, finally announced that he now felt he should stick to acting unless Washington definitely called him for some specific war work. Actually Washington had already let it be known that what it most wanted of Gable was for him to keep on acting.

MGM quickly submitted a trio of scripts to Gable for his next picture. Interestingly, the one he chose to do first was one dealing with life-after-death, the first essay he has ever made into the supernatural. After that, he goes into a highly romantic, a most poetic role in “The Sun is My Undoing.”

But the greatest proof of Gable’s courageous snap-back is the fact that when Metro, who had been sold on the title “Somewhere I’ll Find You,” approached him recently with the idea of releasing his present picture under that original title instead of the second-choice substitute, “Red Light,” he was not too disturbed. You may, after all, see Clark Gable playing in “Somewhere I’ll Find You” and you will know then that he has made himself strong enough so that he can no longer be hurt by a few unimportant words.

Meanwhile he has seen to it that every fan letter of sympathy that reached him—and they came in the literal hundreds of thousands—has been answered and he has begun to go out a little to the houses of those friends who understand him and where he can feel relaxed. He now goes for dinner with Howard Strickling and his vivid wife, Gail, or with the Walter Langs, where he laughs at the gay wit of Mrs. Lang who used to be Fieldsie, Carole’s closest friend and confidante, or with Phil and Leila Hyams Berg, Phil, who is his agent, and Leila whom he’s known ever since the first day he walked on the Metro lot.

One thing the Government has promised to let him do (and he is immensely eager to get at it) and that is to make a series of short subjects to be shown to the service lads. What they will be on, when and where they will be made, he himself doesn’t know and he isn’t asking. He just wants to do them. As for Bond buying, the day after we went into the war, he bought the full quota that any individual is entitled to buy in any one year. He got his 1941 quota on December 8, his 1942 quota on the second of January. He’s got standing orders at his bank to buy the top limit for him if at any time this  ruling may change.

Clark loved Carole with the passion that only a strong man of temperament, intelligence and imagination can love the woman who inspires the best in him. She was superior, beautiful, laughing, generous person, this Carole, and Clark knows he can never replace her image in his heart.

Yet he is, for all that gleam in his eye, for all that persuasive smile of his, a domestic man, who loves his home and thus, inevitably, I believe, there will be another chapter to his life story. And like all people who triumph over the events that could have defeated them, he’s coming out of this stronger than ever.

Personally I like to think about a story he told me years ago, about how, when he was first learning to act, he had to learn to smile. It wasn’t natural to him, until one day somebody told him that only the brave smile well.

He’s smiling now, carefully and deliberately, and he intends to keep on smiling. It’s an attitude to keep remembering these days of 1942.

Remembering Carole Lombard today.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

From January 1940, “Hollywood psychic” reveals what was in store for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard in that coming year:

Both may expect a fine year. But there is someone in the background who is trying to make trouble for them. Clark faces a minor operation, and Carole must watch her health also. Toward the end of the year, a baby adoption is indicated.

_____

Not so much….

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From January 1940:

Clark Gable, who had been at Fieldsie’s party with Carole Lombard (this was the first year they had discovered each other), slept well into the morning [on Christmas Day]. He had sent his lady love an appropriate gift, and when he arose he waited for her ecstatic telephone call. Secretly, he was also eager to see his own present  from Carole.

The first gifts of sweethearts are always the tenderest, the most elaborate and sentimental. Gable’s was. As he walked about, happy, sappy, in love, he came across an unexpected sight on his front lawn.

There stood a forlorn heifer. None of the neighbors had cows. They are not a common sight in Beverly Hills. This cow wore a dejected look. About her neck was a frivolous ribbon, quite out of tone with the animal’s lugubrious demeanor. Attached to the ribbon was a card:

“Merry Christmas From Carole.”

That was about the saddest Christmas Gable ever spent. At least until his love telephoned and a messenger brought Carole’s real gift, elaborately and appropriately sentimental.

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From October 1936:

Carole Lombard has found a “topper” for the wreck of a car she sent Clark Gable as a Valentine gift. It is an antiquated fire engine. 

When the star learned the fire engine was for sale she hurried out and took an option on it. What Gable will do with the engine is a question.

Gable turned the tables on Carole when she gave him the car, for he transformed the broken-down roadster into a snappy racing car. Carole feels that her latest gift will have him “stumped”!

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From November 1939:
Lately I’ve seen both Clark Gable and Carole Lombard at lunch at Ruby Foo’s (this is the old Vendome) with decorator Tom Douglas and a few days later with Bill Haines at the Victor Hugo. They are deep in the business of buying advice and decorations for their ranch home. I can’t quite see streamlined, brittle Lombard on a ranch, even a very exceptional one. But they seem happy as larks.

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From March 1938:
Carole Lombard’s learned to ride Western every Sunday and to roast a nifty duck; she jounces happily in a station wagon when she might be languishing in a limousine. All for Clark Gable’s company! Now, she’s resuming her interest in flying. In “Test Pilot” Clark’s had to fly so much for the director that he has enough hours in the air to get his pilot’s license. Carole took lessons out at the municipal airport a year or so ago, and she’s on the verge of starting over. She’ll never let it be said that she isn’t a swell sport. She isn’t going to be a fool about the top salary she’s commanding, either. The other day, on the set, she inquired how much the owner wanted for a sheep dog acting in her picture. He replied, “Five hundred dollars.” A prop man popped an inquiry, and the answer was “A hundred and fifty.” Carole didn’t buy Snoopy and Snoopy’s papa is no doubt sorry he underestimated this star.

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On January 16, 1942, a grim Clark Gable boarded a plane to Las Vegas to find out the fate of his beloved wife Carole Lombard, her mother Elizabeth Peters and his friend Otto Winkler after hearing that their plane had gone down at Mount Potosi.

Seeing the fire on the mountain at his arrival, he knew the news wasn’t good but still he wanted to go with the rescue team. He was persuaded not to, and considering the charred bodies that were found, it was certainly not a sight he would have wanted to see.

El Rancho Las Vegas

El Rancho Las Vegas

 

After some time spent at the nearby Pioneer Saloon,  Clark was taken to the El Rancho Vegas Hotel to await news on his wife, his mother-in-law and his friend, staying in a private bungalow under guard from the press and curious fans. The news he received: “No survivors. All killed instantly.”

An emotionally shattered Clark insisted on remaining at the El Rancho until all three bodies were taken down the mountain; he wanted to accompany them on the train back to Los Angeles. His time in his bungalow was spent pacing, chain smoking, not eating, not sleeping and barely speaking.

From this article:

One of the friends who’d accompanied Clark met Eddie [Mannix, MGM publicity):
“He hasn’t eaten since we got here. Go see if you can get him to eat.”

“If you can’t, I can’t–”

“Maybe a new face–”

He went in. “Hello, Clark.”

Gable lifted his ravaged face. “Hello.”
His eyes returned to the window. But the sight of Ed seemed to have dragged him back to the incredibly beautiful time when there had been a Carole in the world–back and then forward. He looked up again. ‘We didn’t meet the plane, did we, Ed?”

Ed’s heart turned to water. “No, Clark,” He said quietly, “we didn’t meet the plane.”

Then, a little later, “Want something to eat?”

“No.”
“Mind if I eat something?”
“No.”

He ordered a hamburger sent to him there. Maybe it was a lousy idea, but what could he lose? It worked. “Think you could get me some stewed fruit?” asked Clark. Ed was out of there like a bat out of hell. He wasn’t leaving this to the telephone. With the fruit, he brought back a bottle of milk. Clark finished the bottle, by which time Ed had stealthily introduced another. Clark finished that, too. No general ever got more satisfaction from a well-planned maneuver than strategist Ed.

Clark kept himself going till everything was done that had to be done. Otto was buried the day after Carole and her mother. He insisted on going. He went with Jill. Then he relapsed into what seemed a kind of stupor. They couldn’t get him to love; they could hardly get him to speak. He just sat.

Gable’s been rated a tough guy, who could take what blows fate handed out and come back for more. Those who wondered over his collapse are those who confused toughness with lack of deep feeling. Sure, Gable’s tough, none of which precludes the softer emotions. Tenderness is none the less tender when wrapped in a gag. One day there had been Carole, warm, alive, the dear companion of today and all the years to come. Next day there was Carole, a searing pain. She’d woven herself into every fiber of his being. Torn out, he was left bleeding. She’d been the heart of his world. When it stopped beating, the world crumbled. He was in no stupor. He’d crawled into the hole of himself, because every outside contact flayed his raw grief.

I’ve said before that I have a lot or random Gable related stuff. Well, one of those random items is an original picture of the bungalow Clark stayed in at El Rancho, taken right after he left. You can see, they have typed on the photo as well as written on the back. This was taken by an employee of the hotel, who sent it to her sister, apparently a Clark Gable fan.

clark gable el rancho las vegas

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When Clark left El Rancho to head back to Los Angeles with three bodies, he was never the same.

The hotel largely burned to the ground in 1960, and then the remnants were bulldozed in 1978, so this is a rare glance of where Clark was during the worst days of his life.

Clark leaving El Rancho Las Vegas

Clark leaving El Rancho Las Vegas

gable and lombard 1976

Part Two of me watching Gable and Lombard (1976) again and reporting back on how terrible it is. Here’s Part One.

(I am quoting a movie that is Rated R so please pardon the language)

Having decided to make a go of their relationship and to keep it under wraps, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard are now disguising themselves as Western Union delivery boys and cab drivers to sneak off together. Aren’t those Clark’s pre-denture teeth?

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He calls her “Ma” here for the first time, but she still shrieks “Gable” all the time.

In reality Clark and Carole were seen everywhere–premieres, auto races, horse races, restaurants, parties–everywhere. They received lots of press and fans were thrilled. I suppose  that wasn’t enough drama though; in the film she laments that they can’t even go to a movie together and eat popcorn like a real couple.

So they make the big tragedy of this film the fact that they have to hide their romance, when in reality that was never the case. There was frustration that they couldn’t get married because of Ria, but there was not a big secret romance.

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Now they’re out on a fishing trip. She’s in a big hat and sitting with a cigarette at first but eventually out-fishes him.

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I appreciate they included the wood-paneled station wagon.

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Their rendezvous is broken up when reporters find out Clark’s up there and so she has to go back to town before they’re discovered.

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Suddenly we’re in late 1938/1939 (I guess?) with Hedda Hopper, Clark and Carole pretending they don’t know really know each other.

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Like her hair and dress. That is all.

gable and lombard 1976

Of course by now they were America’s favorite couple, photographed everywhere. Nobody cared anymore that Clark was still legally married.But instead of trumping up the glamour and the cuteness of their courtship, we have Clark on a fake date with Vivien Leigh [NEVER HAPPENED], with Carole looking on from a distance in dismay.

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And then Clark is filming Gone with the Wind, with Carole visiting the set dressed up like a Confederate soldier, whiskers and all, to check up on him.  He accuses her of being jealous of “my love scene with that British dame.”

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He undresses her as she mocks him as “Mr. Butler” and even says “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.”  She leaves half-dressed, in part of her silly costume. Nobody’s going to notice her walking out of Clark Gable’s dressing room like that?

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Next, Carole is in the bathtub at Paramount. This time Clark’s spying on her because he’s jealous she’ll be in a bathtub with another man.What movie is this supposed to be? In what 1930’s movie do men get in bathtubs with women?gable and lombard 1976

Clark spies on her,  watching her shriek and go on and on like a banshee in the tub, in one of the worst cases of over-acting I’ve ever witnessed.

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Then they’re in bed together and she says she wants to make a baby with his ears. I’m growing tired. Tired and restless at the pointlessness of it all. Doesn’t this movie seem ungodly long? (This coming from someone who loves Gone with the Wind)

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Sweeping  music interrupted by knocks at the door. It’s  Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM,  there to lecture them on being immoral.

“It’s immoral to be in love? It makes me so damn mad, all this phony bullshit!” Carole shrieks.

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Mayer informs Carole that Ria is indeed willing to divorce Clark for the right price. This starts a fight after Mayer leaves, of course. Which is ridiculous, as Carole always knew what was delaying the divorce is that Ria wanted a huge lump sum. Timeline is again skewed, as Clark got the lump sum as a bonus for signing onto Gone with the Wind, which is the film he is already shooting at this point.

“Forgive me if I show my naivete as I was living under the delusion that underneath this self-righteous stud was an honest man. I’m a fool. I think he’s happy with me, it’s a joke. What is it baby, the money, the convenience, the steady lay? I hope it’s not the Sunday morning biscuits because if it is, all this time you could have been screwing Betty Crocker!” Carole cries.

Somebody wrote that. In a script. And was paid to do so.

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More shrieking at him. So much shrieking.

Prepare yourself for Clark’s sappy monologue:

“Let me explain. Mayer’s right. For a price, Ria’d give me a divorce. All I’ve got to do is give her the moon. If I gave her everything I saved, and most all my future income, I’d be a free man. I suppose if I really wanted a divorce I’d do it.  I guess down deep I don’t really want one. Well, it’s not you, baby. You’re everything a guy could hope for. It’s just that I’ve tried it twice before, I was married once before Ria. It didn’t work out. I’ve never been able to make it work out with anybody. I guess I don’t got what it takes to make a woman happy.”

He admits he doesn’t have the guts to try it again, that he’s scared. Whatever. Clark was never worried about that; his two previous marriages were both marriages of convenience, not of love. But true that what Ria wanted would literally have cleaned him out.

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She reassures him.

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Since it’s been 1.5 seconds since their last fight ended, they start another one–now over the fact that Clark never says “I love you.”

“You know how I feel, baby. I’m just not the kind of guy that can say those things. Some guys can say them. I can’t, so what?”

More shrieking.

“You’re not frightened of marriage, that’s a crock of shit. You’re frightened of yourself. You’re frightened of your feelings for a woman because you think it makes you less of a man. You and your phony image of what a man is supposed to be–just screw ‘em and leave ‘em! Well I’ve got news for you, honey. You can plant all the hair in Hollywood on your chest and that still doesn’t make you a man. It makes you just what you are right now–nothing.”

gable and lombard 1976

Then she declares she’s taking the next train to Indiana to see her mother. Carole’s mother had lived in California with her for years but whatever. I guess it was an excuse to do a sappy train scene where he runs to the train station after her, pounding on her stateroom door and yelling “I love you!” at the top of his lungs. Oh and it’s suggested he goes to Indiana with her.

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Oh yeah, did I forget to mention all of this is completely made up. It’d be easier actually for me to point out what’s true in this movie rather than what’s made up. Brolin does look a lot like Clark in that coat with the sunglasses and hat, I must admit.

It’s bothering me so much that he calls her “Ma” and she calls him “Gable.”

Now we finally meet Ria, which I find long overdue. Wouldn’t it have held more dramatic weight to paint the picture of this loveless marriage he was trapped in earlier? Instead of throwing it in there 45 minutes in and then making it the backbone of the whole movie with no backstory whatsoever?

Ria is shown living in a lavish mansion with a huge yard and pool and butler. Which isn’t exactly true. Her house was nice but they have her living at Buckingham Palace.

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The depiction of Ria is way off base but of course they’d have to have given some backstory to explain why he was in a loveless marriage to a homely much older woman, so instead they have Ria looking like a typical Beverly Hills society wife. She also has very 1970’s hair.

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She refuses his divorce offer, now that a story has come out about Clark and Carole’s love nest. “You’ve defiled me in public and you’ll have to pay for it!’

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In reality this article called Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and Wives had come out, and that is what angered Ria and Mayer, urging the divorce along. It was about several Hollywood couples, not just Clark and Carole.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know what the word love meant before this. And now I do. For the first time. And I’m asking you to understand,” he pleas. Oh my lord, what prose.

Carole’s house apparently had a grand view of the ocean? (No) I guess this is their new love nest.

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I wish they’d included all of her animals that were always running around.

Clark and Carole were always giving each other crazy gifts and so many of them would have made great scenes (like what about the doves he woke up to find in his hotel room?) but of course the one gift that this trashy movie chooses to include is….

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“To the King. That part of you more precious than gold, this will protect from catching cold.” Yup, a sweater for his penis. We have to endure a whole process of her trying it on him while licking his ear and telling him she had to tell the lady who made it that it was for keeping cucumbers cool in the summer. (Facepalm)

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She lights candles on the cake she’s had made for them to celebrate getting rid of Ria. It has a car on it with hearts all over it. Which would be the Model T that she gave him as a Valentine’s Day gag in 1936. Only they didn’t show that in this film thus far, skipped over it, even though it was a cute story about how they got together in the beginning. And now we’re in 1939, as he’s already filming Gone with the Wind, and we see cast members from Wizard of Oz roaming around.

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A press conference is called to deny the claims of the magazine that Clark and Carole have been shacked up together. Carole arrives in a stylish tailored suit and hat.

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Clark starts reading the script that was prepared for him for the press, which ticks Carole off and she decides she’s had enough of this charade.
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In what is the absolutely most garish, disgusting and vomit-inducing scene in the entire crappy film, Carole changes out of her suit and waltzes into the press conference, wearing a revealing red dress reminiscent of the dress Rhett picks out for Scarlett to wear to Ashley’s birthday in Gone with the Wind, and yells, “Well there’s my horny little hunk of horsemeat! Where you been, angel ass, you know you’re late for your ten o’clock screw, mama can’t wait all day, she’s got customers! Oh hiya dolls, how ya doin’, you must be the new shipment they sent over to keep Gable happy!” as she grabs her chest and shimmys in her lowcut prostitute dress. “What do you get, ten bucks a trick? Five would be highway robbery!” “You just keep that log rollin’ honey because the oven’s hot and the rooster’s ready to crow. He calls me rooster because of my motto–Cock a doodle doo! Cock a doodle doo! Any cock will do!” she shrieks and shrieks.

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Want some horrible GIFs of it? Here you go.

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gable and lombard 1976

I am sorry but I cannot imagine any fan of Carole Lombard defending this scene. What an utterly disrespectful, trashy, and absolutely ridiculous display. Portraying Carole as some kind of slut, out parading like that and shrieking “any cock will do!” is a direct insult to her as a person and it makes me angry. She may have “cursed like a man” but she was still a lady. A very respectable lady in Hollywood. What was the point of this entire scene!

And then Clark  chases her down and says he’s proud of her. “I’d have done it myself but I couldn’t find a red dress to fit.”

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He reminds her, “I just want you to know that whatever dumb thing you ever do I’m always going to be right there with you.” How romantic. I am so done with this film. How much longer do I have to endure this?

Oh, and nothing comes of that scene at all. We see no reverberations from it whatsoever.

After that tomfoolery, we immediately go into a completely made-up paternity suit on the front pages of the paper: A cocktail waitress claiming that she is four months pregnant with his baby.I suppose that this is a strange slant on the 1937 paternity trial that Clark endured when a British woman claimed he had fathered her teenage daughter. Why throw this in at this point in the movie? Why include it at all? I do not, for the life of me, understand the script of this movie.

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Clark and Carole meet with the publicists and Mayer, trying to do damage control.

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Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

When Carole shows up at their “love nest” later that day, she runs through the house looking for him and calls him Pa! Finally.

gable and lombard gable and lombard 1976

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can’t be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation. Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

I like his pinstripe suit. The whole suit and tie is very Clark-like. I’m trying to be positive, see?

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

But then Carole shows up at the trial anyway, prim and proper in a suit with hat and gloves. “Me and that big ape over there have been hitting the sack every night and I have the sore back to prove it!’ she announces on the stand. More ladylike behavior. For some reason now everyone thinks that her admitting that they slept together every night is funny rather than shocking. She even describes his butt and says she’d know if he ever moved it.

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.gable and lombard 1976gable and lombard 1976

Didn’t everyone already know they were together after the article was published and after her display at the press conference? Why was her testimony at the trial the defining moment when everyone figured it out? That doesn’t make sense!

They leave the court room and their getaway vehicle is a white car painted with red hearts. So the car she gave him in 1936,now she gave him in 1939 after this made-up court case. Wouldn’t it have been cuter to have shown her giving it him early on as part of their courtship? Why did she give him a cake with the car on it earlier in the film when she hadn’t given him the actual car yet? This script gives me a headache. I think I have read more comprehensive writing when I used to grade eighth grade English essays.

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Now they are packing up his dressing room and moving off to a farm apparently, since she torpedoed both their careers with her testimony.

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Change of heart! They suddenly decide to attend a premiere together to prove they don’t care what everybody says. They get out of the car and are met with silence, then everyone claps. Oh, now they are accepted!

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Everyone stands and claps for them when they arrive in the theater. Love is victorious! His wife is granting a divorce!

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They finally get to eat popcorn together!

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We are given no scene of their wedding at all. Nope, next scene they are already married (we only know that because they call each other Mr. Gable and Mrs. Gable) and have the ranch (I guess, we don’t see the house, just open pasture and horses).

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And here’s where he tells her he’s joining the Army. And she says she’s going off to sell war bonds. Very non-dramatic scene; seems thrown in. Oh, and this conversation starts with her asking him if he’s heard on the radio about the battle of Corrigedor, which took place on May 5, 1942. Carole died in the plane crash on January 16, 1942. (Facepalm). It’s called FACT CHECKING! She could have just mentioned Pearl Harbor, couldn’t she have, just to be realistic? Oh no, realism wasn’t the name of the game, I forgot.

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That’s it. Now we are back at Clark waiting for word on the plane crash. No word of her mother going with her or his pal Otto Winkler. Nope. We don’t get to see him pacing at the bar waiting for news, none of it.

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He’s told she didn’t survive. We don’t even get the drama of it being night and the flames blazing on the mountain. He gets back in the car and says, “Hey, I heard a good one today….” tells a bad sex joke and then says “My wife told me that one,” as he cries and laughs at the same time.

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And that is the end.

Truly more horrible than I even remembered.

Why not show Clark and Carole happily married on the farm with the chickens and horses? A montage even, of them riding horses and hunting and fishing together? You could even include the post-wedding news conference of them all happy, them attending the premiere of Gone with the Wind arm in arm, etc. Then later show them struggling to have a baby and the arguing that ensued–real conflicts in the marriage, but the love shining through. How about her selling war bonds to big crowds, sending him telegrams along the way? Him regretting not taking her to the train? Him preparing this big party for her when she returns? No, we have none of that. They weather a bunch of made-up scandals while sneaking off to sleep together and then she dies. We don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing their wedding–that could have been a great scene, them sneaking out of town to Arizona and surprising a small town minister. The absolute travesty of this movie is that they took a great love story–one that without much embellishment or made-up scandals would make a wonderful movie–and made it a bunch of nonsense. A bunch of made-up nonsense with their names on it.

The film was critically panned and largely forgotten, thank goodness, except for it popping up on late night cable here and there. Thankfully the careers of James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh survived the wreckage.

Roger Ebert said of it:

Gable is ready to drop everything for a little farm in Ohio, and Lombard doesn’t give a damn about fame and fortune, and the high point of their day is when she comes banging through the kitchen door with an armload of groceries. Lombard and Gable in real life were apparently somewhat like this – he always said acting was a little silly and so he just tried to act natural, and she was an unaffected free spirit – but by limiting itself to this aspect of their lives the movie never deals with the reasons we find them interesting in the first place. The witty and sensual Lombard of “Twentieth Century” and the sly Gable of “It Happened One Night” would hardly recognize themselves as the innocents portrayed by Furie and his actors, Jill Clayburgh and James Brolin. Real people grow older and more complicated.

The movie spans nearly a decade, but they never seem to grow older and hardly ever seem to work (the movie takes a fan-magazine approach to filmmaking – it’s all dressing rooms and autograph hounds and world premieres). We learn that Gable and Lombard had to live together secretly because Gable’s wife wouldn’t give him a divorce – but the movie never admits what an open secret theirs was. And there are so many dumb practical jokes and would-be risque innuendoes that any concern for their real thoughts and feelings is lost, So we don’t get a notion of their private lives, and we don’t even remotely learn from this movie what made them great stars and personalities. Brolin does, indeed, look a lot like Gable – but imitation here has nothing to do with flattery.

The screenwriter, Barry Sandler, did an interview a few years ago where he said, “You know, the critical reaction was tough. I took certain liberties which you have to do when you’re doing a biography. You can’t stick to every specific detail. You have to shape it into a dramatic narrative that’s going to engage an audience even if you have to eliminate or consolidate or compress or rearrange whatever. So, you know, I got some critics criticizing me for that. I also took a more fun, sexual kind of approach to the relationship, and the critics thought that was being sacrilegious or whatever. Nonetheless, I’m very proud of the film. I had a great time making it and have some very fond memories of it.” You took events of their lives and threw them up in the air, put them in random order and filled most of it with made-up scenarios.

He also said, “I did a lot of research. I remember studying for hours in the Academy library, going over old newspaper articles and new stories, and just reading all the material I could read about that. So, you know, all of that is true: the paternity suit, the sock thing, and obviously the plane crash.” Yeah like none of it is true. Seedlings of truth. What research did you do exactly. Yes, she did die in a plane crash, but the surrounding story of that is missing. The paternity suit was nothing like it was portrayed in the film, for starters–instead of a 4 month pregnant cocktail waitress, it was a middle-aged woman with a teenage daughter she claimed Clark fathered in the 1920’s in England–long before he even met Carole or became a star. Carole had nothing to do with the trial when it took place in 1937.

When asked why they chose to make Clark Gable already in the Army when Carole died, his response was: “That’s the thing about doing a biography. If you want to make characters sympathetic and likable, you have to sort of forge it a bit. If that had been the situation, he would have lost the respect of the audience. So in a way, it’s making him the one who decides that he wants to go fight. It makes him more admirable, I guess, in the eyes of the audience.”

Wouldn’t it make him more sympathetic to show the truth–the 41 year old widower showing up in the same suit he wore to his wife’s funeral, with tears in his eyes, taking his oath to join the Army and declaring “I don’t care if I come back.” ??

You can read the whole interview here. Vincent, over at his divine blog Carole & Co, did a piece about the interview a few years back here.

If you really want to subject yourself to this, the film is on DVD and is available for streaming on Amazon for a low price.