Monday, March 23, 2009

Two birds with one stone

After fellow blogger Hollywood Dreamland wrote this entry about posting a picture of Carole Lombard, I realized I had never actually seen a movie of hers. Not one. I know who she is, I know she was married to Clark Gable, I know about her untimely death, and I can usually recognize her in photos. But I've never seen her in a movie. Now that's shameful!

So, in a convenient piece of timing, she's the female lead in two of the George Raft films I really wanted to see, Bolero (1934) and Rumba (1935), so I got to indulge my continuing love of all things George Raft and see Carole Lombard at the same time!

And I really adored Carole Lombard in both films. I like how comfortable she is on screen. She has such a natural, unaffected elegance about her. Feminine and beautiful and strong. She could rapidly become one of my favorite actresses, except I believe a lot of her movies are comedies. I'll have to see what's out there because I definitely want to see her in more films.

As to the two films themselves, Bolero is apparently considered the better of the two... naturally, I liked Rumba better. LOL! But Bolero's timeline covers many years as we follow arrogant, ambitious dancer Raoul (George) on his rise up to the top. Lengthy rags-to-riches plots (and movies in general that span many years) just don't satisfy me. This is just a personal thing; I need my plots in much tighter time frames with more immediate needs/conflicts. This film also suffers from the There Are No Happy Endings in WWI Movies syndrome. But it was still a good movie, and I still enjoyed it, particularly to watch George's dance routines. It's one of the things that fascinates me about him, how he can be a rather vicious street fighter and also a damned stylish dancer. It's like what the guy in this hilarious What's My Line ep says: "The only tough dancer I know is George Raft." And it's true! In these two movies, he's playing characters just as tough as when he plays gangsters -- he just translates it to his dancing. There's just a graceful, elegant ruthlessness to him in everything he does that intrigues me no end.

On the other hand, Rumba's much tighter plot mostly focuses on the troubled romance between the two leads, with, again, George's drive to make it big as the backdrop. It has much more tension, and because of the year it was made, I actually wasn't sure how it was going to end. I like that a lot. George is more fiery/passionate about his dancing and his women in this one, colder and egotistical towards both in Bolero. I like that passion aspect more too, and the dances in Rumba were longer and more entertaining.

George and Carole make a very appealing couple. They play off each other very believably, and they also dance quite well together. Not Fred and Ginger (who is?), but more than adequate.


  1. Ooh, a first time Carole-Lombarder!
    She is one of my favorites and absolutely amazing.

    My two favorite Carole's happen to be comedy's so perhaps you wouldn't like them. But, I would definitely recommend "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" (Hitchcock) and "To Be Or Not To Be" (a rather dark comedy).

  2. Yay! Film recs!! Thank you! I tend not to be a comedy-film person in general, but there are definite exceptions to that, so I will give these a try!

  3. Cool! Carole is EXCELLENT in both!

  4. Carole Lombard was great, however, I think I'm even more intrigued with Carole Lombard the woman, rather than the actress. She apparently had a wild sense of humor - like showing up to a party late, on a stretcher, right out of an ambulance.

  5. I'm going to have to look up these films-- they're on DVD? I haven't seen much of George Raft but you've definitely got me interested!

    ps. as a huge animal lover (and I know you are one too) I use a different phrase: instead of kill to birds with one stone, I saw "feed to birds with one bagel" it's so much nicer :)

  6. Robbie - That's a great story about her. Crazy fun stuff and definitely intriguing!

    Kate - I love your alternate phrasing on that ol' cliche! Thanks! These two movies aren't available on commercial dvd, but I found them from a great high quality source on ebay.

  7. I really liked Carole in "My Man Godfrey" with William Powell, but I think that's the only film I've seen her in.

  8. Want to learn more about Lombard? Then visit my site, "Carole & Co."

    We've been up for nearly two years with more than 800 entries, most on Lombard's life and times and the people she knew and worked with. I think you'll enjoy it.