STREAMING SATURDAYS! Joan Crawford Carries on for Carole Lombard in THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE
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As 1942 rang in, Carole Lombard had just wrapped To Be or Not to Be and was set to star in a new comedy for Columbia, They All Kissed the Bride. But first, there were war bonds to be sold, so she headed home to the wintery Midwest, selling millions of dollars’ worth in a single trip. What happened next, every classic-movie fan knows: On January 16, as she returned to California from her home state of Indiana, her plane crashed into Mount Potosi in Nevada, killing all on board.
As Lombard’s devastated family, friends and fans mourned her, the steely studio execs, including Harry Cohn at Columbia, scrambled to replace her in projects under development. Cohn reached out to Joan Crawford to play the trucking-company heiress who mixes it up with Melvyn Douglas in They All Kissed the Bride, and she was eager to help.
But despite the tragic circumstances, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer, whose eyes never strayed from the bottom line, was reluctant to loan out Crawford, who’d recently won respectful raves for her role as a disfigured blackmailer in A Woman’s Face. Still, if sentiment couldn’t sway Mayer, maybe good old-fashioned blackmail could: Crawford made it clear that if he didn’t let her pick up the baton for Lombard, one of the most beloved members of the film community, the whole town would hear about it, and fast.
After she won the role, Crawford donated her entire salary—$128,000—to the American Red Cross, which had led the perilous search through the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains for Lombard and the other victims of TWA Flight 3. And when her agent refused to forego his 10 percent, she promptly paid it herself and fired him.
The film itself is a battle-of-the-sexes romp, as is clear from the tagline: “There’s Never Anything Wrong With a Woman That a Man’s Lips Won’t Cure.” (No really. They paid someone to come up with that.) But Crawford and Douglas, who’d teamed up earlier in The Gorgeous Hussy, The Shining Hour and A Woman’s Face, have an easy chemistry. And rounding out the cast are Billie Burke and Roland Young, so there you go. The film also ushered in a string of tough-career-woman roles for Crawford, most notably Mildred Pierce.
A reigning Charleston champion in the 1920s, Crawford probably does her best acting in the scene where she’s dragged onto the dance floor by Allen Jenkins for a jitterbug contest. While she’s forced to look miserable and occasionally terrified in the film, she clearly had a ball during rehearsals:
On that happy note, here’s the movie!
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