The next film I will be examining from Kino's new "Carole Lombard Collection II" Blu-ray set is LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST, a 1936 romantic comedy that is not one of the actress's better movies.
LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST was made at Universal, and it was directed by Walter Lang, who would soon marry Madalynne Fields--who happened to be Carole Lombard's best friend and confidant. The film used cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff and costume designer Travis Banton, who had both done much to show off Lombard's beauty in her films for Paramount. Unfortunately what was needed was some screenwriters from Paramount. The comedy in LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST isn't very comedic, and the characters are more annoying than interesting.
Socialite Kay Colby (Carole Lombard) is engaged to the hard-working Bill Wadsworth (Cesar Romero), but she's still being pursued by rich businessman Scott Miller (Preston Foster). Miller even goes to the trouble of buying the company that Bill works for, and then has him transferred to Japan. Scott then drives Kay crazy with his attentions, but when he stops, she feels disappointed. Kay then agrees to marry Bill, but he decides to bring Bill back to see what feelings she has for him.
The story is basically about two people who go out of their way to annoy one another instead of just having a normal relationship. This happens a lot in romantic comedies, especially older ones, and in the right circumstances it can work. But here the mind games Kay and Scott play on each other become tiresome, and the supposed humor isn't all that funny. Lombard's appealing personality helps greatly, but her character still comes off as a flighty rich girl (she has a butler and a maid) who doesn't have anything better to do. Preston Foster doesn't come off too well in a light comedic role, and even Cesar Romero as the other man isn't very likable.
I have to discuss the ad art used on the LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST disc cover. I'm surprised it was used for this release, but it certainly does get attention. (In the actual film, Lombard is popped in the right eye--and not by any of the leading men, but by accident in a bar fight.) The art makes one think that LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST is a wild, slapstick screwball farce, but that picture has more vitality to it than the entire screenplay.
The transfer Kino has used for LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST is mediocre. It has a dull look to it--the black & white picture lacks sparkle--and it has a lot of scratches on it. The main extra is a new audio commentary with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Joshua Nelson. The duo spend a fair amount of time discussing the image used on the disc cover, and they go into how Lombard's persona has been analyzed by various authors--but they don't have all that much to say about LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST.
I'm a bit disappointed that Kino included LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST on this set. The movie has been released on home video before, and there's several better Lombard movies that could have been taken its place. LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST runs only 70 minutes, and it feels like a B picture instead of a major production for a big Hollywood star.