Furs in Film – Lady Be Good

Lady Be Good – The Film

An Oscar winning film you’ve probably never heard of, mostly because there’s a bunch of Oscars most people don’t consider all that memorable and they’ve been around for along time, thus the winner for Best Original Song in 1942 isn’t really what get’s featured on the usual Oscar B-reel. That would be Lady Be Good, by the way, for the song “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”

The movie itself, like many musicals, is about a struggling songwriting team, played by Ann Southern and Robert Young, who end up writing a big hit, and making the big time. Like, for some strange reason, many of the films I’ve profiled here, they end up getting a divorce because of all that fame. If classic Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s “get a divorce, you’ll encounter women in great fur coats along the way.” Naturally this little hiccup in their relationship doesn’t outlast the third act, and everyone gets married again, and, depending on your views about marriage, lives happily ever after.

Lady Be Good – The Furs

This is another good example of an early ’40’s film costumed like it’s 1939. The film features both Ann Southern and top bill Elanor Powell in large foxes, including some white fox that would be rare in the next ten or thirty years or so. Two very large white foxes appear, in fact, one a coat, one a wrap, as well as a silver fox wrap, that, thankfully, portends the end of fashion’s love affair with the head and legs remaining attached to any combination of silver fox and stole. Those stoles were the sour pill in an otherwise perfect decade of fur fashion.

Newly successful songwriting team of Dixie Donegan (Southern) and Eddie Crane (Young) zip to their societal rounds in whatever passes for a limo at the time. Dixie is wrapped up in a big white fox wrap with veil that accents it well.

Eddie leaves Dixie behind to continue clubbing. Eddie’s hard partying ways will eventually lead to, you guessed it, divorce for the happy couple. I’d like to point out, briefly, I love the name Dixie Donegan.

Bending over to say hello to the doggie is Elenor Powell, playing the equally alliterative but less interestingly named Marilyn Marsh. I put this up mostly because in the still, though it looks like Ann Southern has bunny ears, it’s just her feet.

The costume designer liked veils in this flick, as Elenor displays her black net veil as a complement to her silver fox wrap. Bonus points awarded for the matching black gloves, of course. She’s a long, slim cigarette holder away from perfection.

The cast assembles at the justice of the peace, or maybe a minister. The finer points are hazy to me at this point. Though I’m sure mink fans are pleased, I must state Elenor’s mink get’s a buy because of Ann’s fox.

Not sure why they insisted on the heavy metal breaking up the lines on the fox, I could certainly do with out it, but it doesn’t sully the overall product too much. A rare example of a large white fox coat in the 40’s.

Overall, the 1941 Lady Be Good was positively epic for the time. If the costumer designer was stuck in the 30’s, that’s fine by me. I wish costume designers were still stuck in the 30’s. I have noticed a conspicuous lack of white fox trimmed dresses on prime time television and films these days. Really, would it be so conspicuous if Claire Bennet’s cheerleader outfit was made of fox, or Kara Thrace lounged around the ready room in a crystal fox flight jacket? No, not at all. Oops, my genre cred is showing.

And… here’s a link to the full Lady Be Good Gallery.

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