Archive for January, 2009

2009/01/22

Furs on TV – Knots Landing

Soap.net abandoned me a while back. I knew I was in trouble the minute I saw commercials for 90210 appearing. As I knew it would, the network’s line-up was slowly overtaken by 90’s soaps. With the exception of 60 minutes in the wee hours of the morning for Ryan’s Hope (more on that later), the network is devoid of any worthwhile programming.

Knots Landing – The Show

I was at the time coming off taping Dallas after having done Dynasty. All the while Knots Landing ran concurrently. I knew it was a long lasting show, and that my odds of it being replayed from the beginning were low, but I kept my focus on the big 2. So what I have of Knots runs from about season 3 until… well, until the 90’s happened and ruined fur on television. So there may be a few choice moments I missed, but this gallery represents most of the “decent” furs ever seen on the show.

Knots Landing was adapted as a Dallas spin-off, about a cul-de-sac in the LA burbs of the same name. Climate wise, it was no Denver, and wardrobe wise it wasn’t either. Still, as an 80’s nighttime soap, the humble residents of this particular suburban cul-de-sac did wrap up very glamorously from time to time, lead mostly by Donna Mills who arrived in season 2 to pump up the fur count much like Joan Collins in Dynasty.

Knots Landing – The Furs

Fitting that Donna starts us off then, in a coat with a full lynx collar and cuffs. Abby Ewing’s “signature” heavy eye makeup is on display here and everywhere (or it wouldn’t have been much of a signature). I never watched Knots as a kid, so it wasn’t exactly her fault I find it exceptionally “enticing.” I now understand most females find it exceptionally “slutty.”

Fur stoles. Perhaps the costumers were trying to work with the climate and still fit fur in, thus there were quite a few fox fur stoles on display in Knots Landing. Here Donna in blue fox…

…and Constance McCashin in crystal fox.

Joan Van Ark’s character was central to the show, and since she wasn’t meant to be a member of the gliteratti, she rarely ended up in fur. This hurt Knots’ overall fur quotient. Where as Dynasty’s female cast seemed to compete to wear the most, outside of Abby, the pickings on Knots were slim. Here’s Val in a rare red fox coat.

To say Donna’s character Abby got the best furs is a bit unfair, since she got the most, but Constance McCashin’s Laura Sumner did have some memorable ones, especially this large lynx fur coat.

Val’s “other” notable fur was another stole, this one in white fox.

Michele Lee’s character Karen was in the same boat as Val, a regular ole housewife who wasn’t supposed to look glamorous. Thus she rarely got any fur. This black fox stole was one of her only notable appearances on the show wearing fur.

Back to the really good stuff, with Abby wearing a big full length blue fox coat while engaging in what is no doubt completely innocent chit-chat with a shirtless male. It does appear he’s happy to see her like that, though.

Getting later into the show the furs became very few and far between. Fortunately when they did appear, they were worth it. Here’s Donna Mills in lovely full length lynx fur coat.

Paper Dolls didn’t work out, so Nicollette Sheridan found more long term work here on Knots Landing. Sadly she didn’t show up until 86, and she only got one decent fur, but boy, was it decent…

Here’s a perfect illustration of why I generally don’t bother capture mink images in any form. This is Michelle Phillips in a full length black mink playing Nicollette’s character’s mother, with daughter Paige in the background. To me, there’s no contest. Nicollete’s huge, thick, full length beauty screams youth and passion, fire and energy with more than a hit of sensuality. Michelle might as well be going to church.

Of the big 80’s nighttime soaps, Knots was certainly the poor cousin to Dallas and Dynasty in the fur department. The core problem was the setting and characters, most of whom weren’t ever meant to be quite as “flashy.” They were housewives living on a suburban cul-de-sac. Probably should be happy the overall 80’s aesthetic blended as much fur into the show as it did. Comparatively, they’ve certainly run a higher fur-per-episode count than similarly themed Desperate Housewives. Oh, what a difference a couple decades make.

Full Gallery: Furs on Television – Knots Landing

2009/01/08

Furs in Film – Rendezvous

Hollywood is generally guilty of some excess when it comes to period pieces. People complain that anachronistic tools, dialog, and fashion mar the immersion of the audience in the supposed “period.” I’ve never really had a problem with this. It’s especially enjoyable when it works in our fashionable favor, as with the 1935 spy flick, Rendezvous.

Rendezvous – The Film

The plot is about a American cryptology expert foiling German spies, which sounds like it was a bit ahead of it’s time in 1935, but is actually set in 1917, during the First World War. These are you Kaiser’s Germans, not the National Socialist variety. Ironically the film was remade in 1945 (badly, apparently) but set in the Pacific. Rosalind Russell gets boyfriend William Powell assigned to a stateside cryptology unit to keep him from heading overseas to France. In the process of foiling German spies, he meets up with Russian spy Olivia Karloff (Binnie Barnes) who’s working with the Germans. Thankfully Olivia’s wardrobe lives up to all the stereotypical images of Russian lady spies Hollywood has to offer

Rendezvous- The Furs

The film is set in 1917 but the furs are all 1930’s. Outside of the WWI vintage army uniforms, it’s hard to tell by visual inspection alone when the film was supposed to take place. Rosalind Russell is an actress a bit hamstrung by having a very iconic role later in life. It’s easy to forget she was once a bit younger and more vibrant on screen years before, and even more so surrounded by some glamorous fur. Here she shares the screen with the far less famous and more unfortunately named Binnie Barnes as the Russian spy. Binnie manages to upstage Rosalind a bit with her Russian spy wardrobe.

Rosalind, as madcap girlfriend “Joel Carter” (Joel wasn’t on my list of androgynous names until now, heh), opens the film in this fox wrap, which, though styled more like something from 1917, is a lot more ‘fox’ than it probably would have been in 1917.

Russian spy Olivia Karloff sweeps in later to provide a bit more sophistication with this large lynx collar.

Olivia is given a few spectacular close ups in her furs. This is one of them. The shots are brief, but they are certainly a gift to your “pause” button. The cinematographer and film editor were certainly on the ball with this one.

Olivia and Bill Gordon meet in the ensuing game of Spy vs. Spy, though she is far more elegantly dressed in than the pointy comic version. The large silver fox muff and the veil are seductive combination for the Russian spy.

Olivia spends a great deal of the film wearing this silver fox wrap over a black outfit. Not something that was very common in 1917, but I don’t really care.

Again, there are multiple close shots of Ms. Barnes framed perfectly by the silver fox. Check out the full gallery for a more complete selection.

Bookending the film somewhat, Rosalind returns with something a bit more substantial than her entry fox wrap. This massive lynx collar appears at the very end of the film, just before the credits roll.

Certainly ending the film on a high note for fur, Ms. Russell’s huge fur collar runs the entire length of her coat from top to bottom, as any collar should.

Definitely a film where anachronistic fashions are a “welcome error.” Usually period pieces from the 30’s ended up being of the late 1800’s and generally far too accurate for their own good (read: devoid of any decent furs). Perhaps the comparatively recent historical period in which the film was made created a bit more of a lax atmosphere. If only Ms. Russell’s final coat had been more than just the collar, or our Russian spy swathed more completely in silver fox, but minor quibbles considering what thought to be worn in “1917”.

Furs in Film Gallery: Rendezvous.