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Love Before Breakfast: 1936

Houses in Atlanta. March 1936 View full size. Photograph by Walker Evans.

Houses in Atlanta. March 1936 View full size. Photograph by Walker Evans.


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Wondering why that wall of billboards was put up

This is a well known photograph but I've never seen any explanation of why someone would do that to a neighborhood, and whether these homes have survived. They were obviously originally rather large single family homes built for a comfortable middle class clientele. The homes look badly in need of a coat of paint and some siding repair, even though they would not have been all that old at the time. Ok, the neighborhood had slipped some, but why in blazes would someone erect a really ugly wall that actually blocks access from the homes to the street? The homes look like they were still occupied; how did you get to them? A rear alley?

Black eye

Carole was given the black eye because in the film, she was punched by her husband Preston.

Triple that and you have my neighbourhood

And they're all on 25-foot-wide lots.

Love Before Breakfast

I think Hal Erickson was confused. All the posters for Love Before Breakfast that I can find online have Carole Lombard with a black eye. It hasn't been altered.

So he could also have confused a painting with a photograph as well!

Similar houses

Note the similarity of the houses, with small detail differences, like the corner on the right, and length of the porch. Then, as now, builders played games with us. If you drive through new developments in my small town, you can see many cases where houses are built with slight variations on a common plan, and then they cost $300,000.

Famous painting?

Could it be that the "famous 1930's era painting" referred to by Hal Erickson is indeed this photograph? This image is considered a masterwork of photography and is rightly held to be among Walker Evans's finest.

further reading

An article by John Tagg in the January 2003 edition of Narrative discusses this photo, also doubled evidently by FSA archivist/photographer John Vachon, in depth. I got that article on J-Stor searching "billboards."


The Capitol Theater is advertising 8 big acts of "vodvil", every week. I guess it's easier to fit on the bill, than Vaudeville.

Margaret Hamilton

A bit of trivia. Margaret Hamilton's grandniece was my son's kindergarten teacher in Oakland, CA, in 1970. He's 41 now and has never forgotten that. Of course, his daughter (now 6) has watched The Wizard of Oz more time than any of us can count.

Margaret Hamilton

For those who are interested! Margaret Hamilton co-starred as the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of OZ" in 1938.

Margaret Hamilton

Good ol Margaret! Although I think that's Anne Shirley who's pictured on the loveseat.

Love Before Breakfast..

Left side poster features... Margaret Hamilton? Three years before the Wizard of Oz!

The Movie

Love Before Breakfast (1936) was the scintillating title Universal chose over Spinster Dinner, the Faith Baldwin novel upon which this airy comedy is based. Carole Lombard is a Park Avenue beauty squired by Preston S. Foster and Cesar Romero. Since neither gentleman is a prize catch, Lombard is fey and fickle throughout the film. That's all there is to Love Before Breakfast, which might have been completely forgotten had it not been for a famous 1930s-era painting in which a detailed poster for the film is the focus of attention. There's one iconoclastic alteration in the painting: Carole Lombard has been given a black eye. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Old Fourth Ward

I believe this Old Fourth Ward, which backs up to Cabbage Town. This is the neighborhood that MLK Jr. was born and raised in.


And would the Lombard film be debuting at the very same Paramount where a young Sinatra made his debut as a solo act (without the Dorsey band)?

Looks like Cabbagetown

From the building and smokestack that you can see in the right rear and between the houses, I'm guessing that this is Cabbagetown, just east of downtown, near Oakland Cemetery. Can't tell what street it is. Cabbagetown was a mill town, based around the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill. Here's a Wikipedia link.

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