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To Be or Not to Be  /  In Name Only

In Name Only
May 26, 2016 - 7:30 pm
Emily Carman.

To Be or Not to Be  (1942)

Carole Lombard crafted a paradigmatically independent career in the 1930s, and how she might have further thrived in the industry after the key court cases on the 1940s (de Havilland and Paramount) can only be speculated.  Here in her final film, however, Ernst Lubitsch’s masterful wartime satire of Nazism and ham actors alike, she shines, the comedic persona she devised for herself still glittering and brilliant. 

35mm, b/w, 99 min.  Production: Romaine Film Corporation.  Distribution: United Artists.  Producer: Ernst Lubitsch.  Director: Ernst Lubitsch.  Screenwriter: Edwin Justus Mayer.  Cinematographer: Rudolph Maté.  Production Designer: Vincent Korda.  Editor: Dorothy Spencer.  Composer: Werner R. Heymann.  Cast: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart, Lionel Atwill.

In Name Only  (1939)

After four years of comedy, Carole Lombard re-established herself as a dramatic actress, and In Name Only was her first film in her RKO contract that retained her standard creative provisions and awarded her a sizable percentage of her films’ box office profits.  Lombard plays Julie, a widowed commercial artist with a young daughter who falls in love with the unhappily married Alec (Cary Grant, also showing his serious side).  His selfish wife Maida (Kay Francis) is unwilling to divorce and lose her social position.  Very much a classic woman’s film of studio-era Hollywood, the film’s plot echoes Lombard’s real-life illicit romance with Clark Gable; they did not marry until his wife Rhea agreed to a divorce (and lucrative financial settlement).

35mm, b/w, 94 min.  Production: RKo Radio Pictures.  Distribution: RKO Radio Pictures.  Producer: George Haight.  Director: John Cromwell.  Based on a novel by Bessie Breuer.  Screenwriter: Richard Sherman.  Cinematographer: J. Roy Hunt.  Editor: William Hamilton.  Composer: Roy Webb.  Cast: Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis, Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson.