Updated: Aug 31, 2020
A trio of Carole Lombard titles, a Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy pairing, and an essential fashion film lead this month’s releases.
From stunning 1930s glamour to Hepburn’s signature tailored style, these August releases showcase standout work from three of Hollywood’s most talented costume designers.
Carole Lombard Collection I
Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Kino Lorber has put together a set of three pre-Code films Carole Lombard fans should love, and if you’re only familiar with one of these titles, this is a chance to become better acquainted with this screen legend’s talent and versatility.
From 1932, No Man of Her Own is well-known to classic-film fans, largely because it’s the only film Lombard appeared in with Clark Gable, years before they fell in love and were married in 1939. Seven years earlier, Lombard was married to William Powell, so she had little interest in her handsome leading man, whose star was on the rise, in this Wesley Ruggles-directed film. Gable plays a con man on the run, but when he hides out in a small town, the last thing he expects is to fall in love with the librarian played by Lombard. Much of the film highlights the characters’ whirlwind romance, but it’s fun to watch No Man of Her Own to gauge whether there’s chemistry beyond the story for the pair. And with costumes by Travis Banton, Lombard is the height of 1930s style.
In 1930’s Fast and Loose, Lombard stars alongside Miriam Hopkins and Frank Morgan in a madcap comedy of how an heiress, played by Hopkins, and her brother fall in love with, respectively, a chauffeur and a chorus girl (Lombard), and the lengths to which Morgan, as their father, will work to prevent it. This was an early film role for Lombard, though her resume already boasted several uncredited parts, as well as roles in which she’s credited as “Carol” Lombard. Fast and Loose was the first full-length film for Hopkins, meanwhile, so you may spend much of the viewing time pondering how young they both look. Banton, uncredited, also does a terrific job with gowns for both women here.
Finally, in 1931’s Man of the World, viewers get another chance to discern Lombard’s onscreen chemistry with a co-star, this time with William Powell; the couple would fall in love and get married soon after filming of this Richard Wallace-directed film was completed. Man of the World is a perfect pre-Code, Depression-era story, with Powell starring as one-half of a husband-and-wife team who make a living by blackmailing rich Americans who have been behaving badly in Paris. What Powell’s character doesn’t expect, however, is to fall in love with Lombard, who plays the niece of his latest mark.
Bonus features include new audio commentaries to accompany both Man of the World and No Man of Her Own, as well as the films’ original trailers.
Dinner at Eight (1933)
Warner Archive Collection
Starring Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, John Barrymore, Billie Burke and Marie Dressler
Directed by George Cukor
Costumes by Adrian
Dinner at Eight is an essential film no matter whether you’re a fan of classic film, Jean Harlow, glamorous fashion, or all of the above. Just a year before MGM enjoyed a major hit with Grand Hotel, so the studio decided to make lightning strike twice with another ensemble film of major stars in a storyline that at first seems disparate and unconnected, but which weaves together nicely before the last reel spools out. George Cukor directed this film based on the stage play, which centers around Billie Burke as Millicent Jordan, a hostess trying to throw the perfect dinner party, and as the film opens she discovers Lord and Lady Ferncliffe have accepted her invitation, news that could be the social coup of the season.
Assembling the rest of the evening’s guests, however, reveals a variety of business and personal relationships that could spell disaster for Millicent’s table. Among the subplots, Jean Harlow shines as the social-climbing wife of Wallace Beery, a performance that’s only enhanced by Adrian’s costumes for the platinum icon. Bias-cut gowns were a key silhouette of 1930s films, but the pairing of Adrian and Harlow easily ranks at the top of the decades best looks.
(Note: Warner Archive Collection is also releasing 1935’s China Seas, starring Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, on 8/18/20; click here for details.)
Without Love (1945)
Warner Archive Collection
Starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
Directed by Harold S. Bucquet
Costumes by Irene Lentz
You’d be hard-pressed to find an abundance of glamour in this 1945 pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who — as the film’s title implies — decide to enter into a loveless marriage purely for the sake of science. The pragmatic pair embark on the idea with tremendous enthusiasm, but it’s not a spoiler to reveal that love gets in the way, happily, before the film ends. Unlike, say, Woman of the Year or Adam’s Rib, this isn’t a film with a multitude of wow costume moments. Instead, viewers get a sense of how Irene Lentz captures the tailored style that suits Hepburn so perfectly. Ultimately Without Love is about the spark between Hepburn and Tracy, so any extra glamour isn’t required; that would be overkill.
(Note: Warner Archive Collection is releasing another Tracy/Hepburn favorite, 1952's Pat and Mike, on 8/25/20; click here for details.)