Thursday, January 16, 2020

THE CAROLE LOMBARD MEMORIAL BLOGATHON: We're Not Dressing, 1934


The Carole Lombard Memorial Blogathon is being hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Vince, whose site Carole & Co. is the last word on the talented and timeless Carole Lombard. Join the tributes HERE


Wealthy Doris Worthington (Carole Lombard) has the world at her feet as she travels the Pacific in her self-named yacht. Wealthy Doris Worthington also has man trouble. The two gigolo princes at her beck and call (Ray Milland and Jay Henry) are beginning to bore her. Her Uncle Hubert (Leon Erroll) doesn't approve of the princely pair, and he drinks a tad too much. Singing sailor Steve (Bing Crosby) attracts her attention and annoys her greatly because he attracts her attention. The girls in her life aren't much better as pal Edith (Ethel Merman) waits around for the discarded prince or the soused uncle, whichever is handy. Doris's pet bear "Droopy" vies for the undivided attention of singing sailor Steve.

Uncle Hubert's shenanigans cause the yacht to sink and while the bulk of the crew is rescued, singing sailor Steve and the rich folks end up on an apparently deserted island. In time honoured J.M. Barrie (The Admirable Crichton) fashion, singing sailor Steve, as the only practical person among the castaways, takes charge. Only Doris retains her stubborn pride in the face of starvation and privation.

Bing Crosby, Carole Lombard

On the other side of this not-so-deserted island, we find married naturalists George Burns and Gracie Allen. Droopy the bear finds them as well. Eventually, Doris finds them and uses that secret knowledge to play a trick on singing Sailor Steve. After a tender moment of romance, and a nasty moment of anger and retaliation, which feels out of place in this comedy, the whole kit and kaboodle are rescued and sent their separate ways before reuniting for the final clinch and song.

Directed by Norman Taurog, the whole business runs an hour and a quarter including nine Harry Revel and Mack Gordon songs and reprises, plus a couple of Burns and Allen routines. Carole had six movies released in 1934 with We're Not Dressing her first foray into Screwball and Twentieth Century one of her greatest in the genre. In between, we have Now and Forever, The Gay Bride, Bolero, and Lady by Choice.

Leon Erroll, Ethel Merman, Ray Milland, Jay Henry

Many writers are credited for the plot and dialogue, which is fairly thin, relying on the idea and the talents and personalities among the cast. Ethel Merman at 25 is a bright and shiny talent and plays well opposite funny man Leon Erroll. Of the gigolos, this was the only movie for Jay Henry, while Ray Milland simply oozed charm and instinct.

Bing Crosby, Carole Lombard

According to Bing's autobiography Call Me Lucky (1954), and the first volume of Gary Gidden's biography The Early Years (2001),  Bing and Carole got along famously with an appreciation for each other's sense of humour. The shooting of the movie on Catalina Island was a picnic for all. These film personalities show fun chemistry in this lightweight picture, and it is indeed a shame that we would not have another opportunity to see them together.




















37 comments:

  1. Is it odd that my first thought when I saw Crosby was in this was that he was kinda old for Lombard? I forgot that he had made movies for a long time.

    Young Ethel Merman looked pretty good.

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    1. I wish they had filmed some of Ethel's early Broadway stuff. I heard her say once on The Mike Douglas Show that she never had stage fright. When I used to do community theatre, I would pray to Ethel Merman.

      Bing went from young vocalist to old leading man who gets the younger women (which he did in real life).

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  2. "When I used to do community theatre, I would pray to Ethel Merman." I love it. I wish I could have seen you -- more than that, I wish I could have been in the techie crew supporting you; that's what I did for years in my community theatre group. Duct tape, headsets, sewing kit, and aspirin were balanced in one arm, with my well-marked script with the lighting cues in the other. I wonder if I can still dress someone for a 15-second costume change completely in the dark? Well, it sounds more provocative than it was.

    Carole and Bing and Ethel. They made some of the darkest days of the early thirties seem bright.

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    1. I have a fair number of suitable black slacks and tops - suitable for backstage crew or for choir! Wouldn't we have had a time?

      When I look at the great entertainers of that era, they all seemed to have such fun and shared that fun with their audience. Who does that today? The music scene seems to be about spectacle and the comics, for the most part, are so cynical. Where's the fun?

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  3. BING CROSBY worked with BOB HOPE. Bob had a cameo role in an ep of THE GOLDEN GIRLS. BETTY WHITE played ROSE on that show. Betty turns 98 today! Besides THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and a few eps that you saw of The Golden Girls what do you know Betty best from? She has done TV-Movies and one of the shows that she guest-starred on was DIAGNOSIS MURDER where she played the sister of DR. MARK SLOAN(DICK VAN DYKE).

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    1. Growing up, I knew Betty most as a game show and television personality. I believe the first time I saw her as an actress was guesting on Ellery Queen. Her addition to The Mary Tyler Moore Show was genius! And I really got a kick out of Hot in Cleveland.

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  4. Did you watch THE GEORGE BURNS AND GRACIE ALLEN SHOW? I saw some of the eps in the mid 80s on CBN CABLE. It had BEA BENADERET that I knew as COUSIN PEARL from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Also I saw some eps of WENDY AND ME with George and the adorable CONNIE STEVENS. Connie has had a great career in movies and on TV. She also did a lot of USO tours with BOB HOPE and she started a scholarship program to send NATIVE AMERICAN kids to college. PLUS she raised two daughters without help from their father (EDDIE FISHER) and started a skin care line that was VERY profitable. She is a very feminine and perky lady!

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    1. Funnily enough, I caught Connie on YouTube yesterday in some clips from those WB shows like Hawaiian Eye. I'm a fan.

      Bea Benaderet is one of my favourite actresses. She could and did do it all on radio and television.

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  5. What are your favorite CAROLE LOMBARD movies? Was MY MAN GODFREY the only movie that she did with WILLIAM POWELL? They were already divorced by then. She did a movie with CLARK GABLE but that was BEFORE they were romantically involved. Which leading men did you like her paired up with? I know she did a few movies with FRED MACMURRAY(who was also frequently paired up with BARBARA STANWYCK).

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    1. Carole appeared in two other movies with William Powell, both in 1931. They were married from 1931-1933.

      I don't have a particular favourite leading man for Carole, although I am partial to Fred MacMurray. My favourite of her comedy films is Twentieth Century and for drama, it is Virtue.

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  6. As you probably know, GEORGE BURNS discovered ANN-MARGRET and had her be his opening act in LAS VEGAS. George had an eye for talent! ANN-MARGRET did a movie in 2017. I didn't see it but the title is GOING IN STYLE and it starred ALAN ARKIN, MICHAEL CAINE and MORGAN FREEMAN.

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    1. Well, isn't that a coincidence! I didn't realize they had remade Going in Style starred George Burns in the 1979 version, with Art Carney and Lee Strasberg.

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  7. My parents were big Bing Crosby fans, so I knew the songs from this movie well before I ever saw it. Although many of the tunes are now famous, the one I always remember is "Love Thy Neighbor."

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    1. Paramount never had to give Bing's movies big production numbers. All they needed was a song and the singer = instant hit/standard.

      I'm from a family of Bing fans. What pleases me most is that my son has been a fan since babyhood. Only problem is if I start to sing a song he associates with Bing, he looks at me with sadness in his eyes and gently puts his hand over my mouth. Everybody's a critic!

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  8. CBS ruled back then! They had BURNS & ALLEN, I LOVE LUCY and THE HONEYMOONERS.Also THE RED SKELTON SHOW and later they had a lot of other good shows. THE LUCY SHOW, HERES LUCY, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, RHODA and THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Two of my particular favorites are ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. CBS also had THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, GREEN ACRES, FAMILY AFFAIR and THE DORIS DAY SHOW. PLUS they had THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, MAUDE, GOOD TIMES and THE JEFFERSONS. Also GILLIGANS ISLAND and GOMER PYLE, USMC. Two more ( that I think you said you didn't watch ) were ALICE and ONE DAY AT A TIME. I went back and counted the shows on my list. There are 24 I listed. WHEW! CBS had the power!

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    1. Back then we knew all of the programs that were on TV even if we didn't watch them. Certainly can't say the same for these days.

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  9. Watching this film, you can tell it must have had many writers, as the plot is the classic everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mishmash of incidents - which I think is a strength of this picture! It gets wilder and crazier as it goes along, culminating with the discovery of Burns & Allen on the desert isle. We should all be so lucky to run into B&A ourselves!

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    1. Yep. If I ever find myself on a "deserted" island, I'll be very disappointed if George and Gracie aren't there!

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  10. I saw GEORGE BURNS in OH, GOD! with JOHN DENVER and TERI GARR. I remember that DINAH SHORE was in it as herself. Did you see George in very many movies?

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    1. I believe I have read more of George's books than I have seen of his movies. My favourite is The Sunshine Boys and I like his narration of The Solid Gold Cadillac.

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  11. LEON ERROL and his wife STELLA were married from 1906 until her passing in 1946. 40 years-another long marriage in Hollywood. Stella was a dancer. Leon died in 1951. THE GEORGE BURNS AND GRACIE ALLEN SHOW came on in 1950-a year before I LOVE LUCY.

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    1. I get a kick out of Leon Errol and it is interesting to hear about his long marriage. George and Gracie moved from radio to television seamlessly. As did Lucy.

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  12. What do you know ETHEL MERMAN best from? Some other famous ETHELS are ETHEL BARRYMORE, ETHEL WATERS and ETHEL KENNEDY who, of course, is the widow of BOBBY KENNEDY.

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    1. Merman, Barrymore, and Waters are Broadway legends. We're lucky they made some excellent movies.

      Favourite Merman movie: Call Me Madam
      Favourite Barrymore movie: Kind Lady
      Favourite Waters movie: Cabin in the Sky

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  13. Back then were there any actresses who were known for screwball comedies as much as CAROLE LOMBARD? Also did Carole do very many PRE-CODE movies

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    1. Carole made over 30 movies during the silent era, and over 20, as her career rose, prior to 1934 (the Code era).

      Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne, Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, and Ginger Rogers are noted for their screwball comedy antics.

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  14. I love that you described Ethel Merman as "bright and shiny".

    As for Carole Lombard, not only do I adore watching her films, I want to be IN those films, even when it takes place on a not-really-deserted desert island.

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    1. Yes. I agree. Carole makes you want to be there sharing the madcap fun. I had never thought of it that way before.

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  15. CLAUDETTE COLBERT did THE EGG AND I with FRED MACMURRAY and IRENE DUNNE was in NEVER A DULL MOMENT with Fred. Irene was nominated for five OSCARS and never won. Which movie do you think she should have won the Oscar for?

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    1. I would have given Irene an Oscar for I Remember Mama.

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  16. JOHN KARLEN died Jan. 22 at the age of 86. Im sure you remember him from DARK SHADOWS. I know him from CAGNEY & LACEY where he played HARVEY LACEY, the husband of MARY BETH LACEY(TYNE DALY). John played the part really well. He won an EMMY for that role and was nominated two other times. P.S. SHARON GLESS, who played CHRISTINE CAGNEY, played CAROLE LOMBARD in the TV-Movie THE SCARLET OHARA WAR. It goes around!

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    1. I had forgotten about Sharon in that GWTW movie. That was fun, as I recall.

      John Karlem was an immensely talented actor. I was sorry to hear of his passing.

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  17. I meant SCARLETT OHARA.

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  18. JACK BURNS has died at 86.(WIKI says Jan. 26 and imdb says Jan. 27). I remember him from his eleven episodes of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW where he played WARREN FERGUSON, the nephew of FLOYD LAWSON. Warren was the new deputy after DON KNOTTS left the show. The first ep that Warren was in was where he arrested AUNT BEE and her friends for playing bingo. A lot of people didn't care for Warren. Jack had the unenviable job of taking over for the lovable BARNEY FIFE. Jack had earlier been in a comedy duo with GEORGE CARLIN and then AVERY SCREIBER. (I don't know those duos. I mostly know Avery from the DORITOS commercials.)

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    1. I want to correct another error. I meant Avery SCHREIBER.

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    2. I remember Burns and Schreiber very well. I hadn't read of Jack's passing. So much sad news.

      Earlier today we were heartbroken to hear of the passing of Marj Dusay.

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