Archive for February, 2010


Furs on Film – Mad Dog Time

Personal challenge: post a film from the 1990s. Check. So how does one get Ellen Barkin in a couple big fox stoles in the middle of the worst fur fashion drought since, well, between the Ice Age and the early 1900’s? Apparently it requires an alternate universe… and no concept of pacing.

Mad Dog Time – The Film

Let me mention up front the general consensus seems to be that this is not a good film at all. To be frank, even on fast forward, this thing looked boring. It’s basically a series of conversations that, sometimes, end in some guy getting shot. I believe it’s supposed to be a call back to more classic gangster films, but with the bold artistic vision of nothing remotely interesting happening. Did I mention Ellen Barkin in fox stoles? Yes, let’s get to that…

Mad Dog Time – The Furs

Ellen Barkin is featured in 2 large fox stoles, one white, one black, as she plays a gun moll named Rita Everly. Fox furs and gun molls are the one classic combo the film got right.

We start with this black fox stole, probably the best for her character, though the combo with the little black dress makes the wide shots a little hard to discern.

There are better shots, fortunately, at the club where much of the action, er events, er… people talking endlessly, takes place.

I’m fond on this shot, showing Rita has the good taste to keep the stole in place at the table and not relegate to the chair back as so many have done before.

A great deal of fast forwarding later, we see Ellen in stole 2, this one white fox.

This one doesn’t interfere with the front of Rita’s dress.

I know this looks mildly interesting, but don’t be fooled. Granted, gun moll Rita is actually holding a gun while nicely showing off the white fox stole in the process.

This shot sums up the film. There was a really long conversation that ends like this. If you think action = “casually shooting from a seated position” then this was the roller-coaster ride of 1996. I’ll stick with pre-Windtalkers John Woo.

Rita makes out alive to live happy ever after with her gangster boyfriend. I guess… Honestly, I don’t care. Ellen Barkin looks wonderful in the white fox, that’s all that matters.

Hey, it’s a film from 1996 with big fox stoles in it, that’s really all that needs to be said regarding why the film is “notable.” Sure, it kinda cheated with the whole “alternate universe” thing, but lets face facts, the 90’s managed to excise fur even from period pieces. If they’d done a docudrama on the making of The Mad Miss Manton in 1996, it wouldn’t have a single guard hair in it.

Fur Runtime: approx 5 minutes
Film Runtime: 93 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 5%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1996 film Mad Dog Time.

Now for a little attempt at reader interactivity. Comment on this post with your “best” fur film from the 1990s. I’m honestly curious to know what other gems (however dull) might be hiding in that steaming pile of a decade.


Furs on Film – Silk Stockings

The 1950s weren’t entirely a wasteland of “elegant and tasteful” (read: boring) mink. There were exceptions, usually in the form of stoles, and this next update is the poster child of 1950’s fox stoles. It also contains my main weakness… pink dyed fox. Silk Stockings is, like fox stoles, something the 50’s presented a lot of: musical remakes of “old” films. In this case the old film was 1939’s Ninotchka. Ninotchka is one of Greta Garbo’s last films, and committed the cardinal sin of presenting her as a Russian who wore no fur at all. Silk Stockings doesn’t quite make up for this, but it’s a solid film nonetheless.

Silk Stockings – The Film

The plot of the film follows the main beats of Ninotchka, but the excuses for the characters being where they are have been tweaked a bit, mostly because this is one of those musicals that provide the thinnest excuse for people to sing. Fred Astaire plays a film producer who snags a Russian composer to write music for his films. The Kremlin sends agents to get him back, but they are corruped by “decadent” western ways. They then send Ninotchka Yoschenko, a true fan of Communism, to bring them all back, proving to be a tougher nut to crack. Since this is 50’s musical, though, said nut is cracked and everyone lives happily ever after in the decadent western paradise.

Silk Stockings – The Furs

Perhaps in homage to the original, Agent Yoschenko is, sadly, not clad in any decadent western fur coats. These are left to the character of Peggy Dayton (Janis Paige), who is the star of producer Steve Canfield’s (Fred Astaire) film. Given the choice, I would have preferred Cyd Charisse be the one swathed in big fox stoles, but, given a real choice, I would have picked Greta Garbo over either of them.

Peggy Dayton arrives, to the film, and the plot, in a big way. It’s a 50’s musical, so entrances are important, and this one is done with a white fox stole and muff combo.

The shot is pretty much wide throughout, sadly. I could have used a closer view of this outfit.

Later, Miss Dayton and Agent Yoshenko briefly meet up, with their contrasting styles on clear display.

Cyd departs, leaving us with an extended conversation between Canfield and Dayton, with Janis Paige vamping around in this wonderful dyed fox stole.

The film’s insistence on wide shots is somewhat frustrating. Though I’m ordinarily no fan, I would have liked the opportunity to direct the “pan-and-scan” cut of the film. Granted, people might wonder where Fred Astaire went to after a while…

Widescreen does have its uses, as this glamor pose on the couch, wrapped in thick dyed fox, does Miss Paige well.

Finally we come to that strange, somewhat rarity… the fur clad musical number. This one features my fashionable Achilles heel… pink dyed fox. I love pink fox, let me just say that directly. I think most fox is a little more “in your face” from a fashion perspective, and brightly dyed versions play that up nicely.

In this musical number, Peggy is trying to “convince” the Russian composer to work for Steve Canfield.

I would have signed up pretty quickly, but it’s a long musical number so it takes some time.

Sadly the big pink fox trim doesn’t hang around the whole time, but in taking it off, the film actually does something akin to a closeup, which is impressive, considering.

Overall this is a great example of 50’s fox stoles, and an even better example of great dyed fox. Still, it suffers for its legacy, as throughout my thoughts drifted first to thinking of Cyd Charisse in those fox stoles, then, to the great one herself, Greta Garbo, who would have filled them out gloriously. Well, Garbo filled out any fur gloriously, so that’s not really saying much, I know. Apologies to Janis Paige, of course, but really, can’t think of many women who would weather a Garbo comparison.

Despite having almost 7 minutes of fur, the ratio is pretty slim because this is (as I believe I’ve pointed out before) a 50’s musical and they were generally pushing the duce / duce-and-a-half mark.

Fur Runtime: approx 7 minutes
Film Runtime: 117 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 5%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1957 film Silk Stockings.


Furs on Film – The Crash

In an effort to avoid another big hole in the posting schedule, I’ll present another entry from the early 1930’s. The greatness of the decade’s fur fashions did seem to rise, quickly, to a beautiful pinnacle right at the end, before the 40’s kind of pulled the rug out. This is somewhat different from the 80’s which seemed to experience a fairly steady plateau of awesome before the giant, dark abyss of the 90’s. There are quite a few gems from those early years, though.

The Crash – The Film

Dipping back to the era of the nation’s first most famous financial crisis, The Crash brings us the story a woman who leaves her husband after he looses everything in the stock market, an event in which she figured quite significantly. Ruth Chatterton stars as Linda Gault, who dumps her husband, moves to Bermuda and falls in love with another guy. As she prepares to run away for good with him, she swings back by New York and runs into her old hubby where she has a change of heart and presumably lives happily ever after with him in abject poverty.

The Crash – The Furs

Usually I like to point this out myself, but hey, even some dude at the IMBb figured it out:

Anachronisms: Although the story takes place primarily in October 1929, and immediately thereafter, all of Linda Gault’s clothes are from 1932 (styles changed dramatically during those three years).

Yep, exactly, otherwise we wouldn’t have much to talk about here. This is the magic of the 1930s.

Here we have Linda chatting with a guy one she’s having an affair with, a banker named John Fair. She’s doing so wearing this rather full fox wrap.

As seen here, this is, technically, a fox trimmed wrap, but it’s my favorite kind, the one where the trim comprises 90% of the wrap. The Crash is front loaded, as this is probably the best fur in the film.

Despite the wrap, Linda isn’t able to get the stock tips she needs from John, whose willpower must be immense. This leads to her husband’s downfall in the market.

The film gives us a look at 1929 fashion via a quick glimpse at a fashion mag. I included this merely for curiosity’s sake, as the mink wraps are pretty drab and and boring compared to what appears seconds later. It’s also amusing because the film seems to be flagrantly advertising its fashion anachronisms.

Cut from drab minks in the previous still to this. Literally, they move from that shot to Linda a full, beautiful fox wrap. Hard to ignore the difference.

This is that sad occasion, though, as we’re seeing this because Linda is selling it in order to make some cash. The prospective new owner is decidedly less worthy of it, unfortunately.

To the end of the film, as Linda prepares to run off with her latest paramour and swings by her old place to pick up some stuff. She does so stylishly in this large silver fox collared coat.

The hat isn’t quite the kind of bad girl accessory it could have been. It could have been fox, too, that would have been an even better choice.

She takes it off near the end. This sequence is pretty long, so it certainly boosts the film’s fur ratio.

Not a bad outing. Ruth Chatterton is not among the Garbos, Harlows, Stanwycks, or Deitrichs, but she wears a large fox wrap well. The short runtime and the long sequence at the end push the ratio up to a very respectable 10%. Helps that movies were not much more than an hour at the time.

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 58 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film The Crash.