Archive for March, 2010

2010/03/28

Furs on Film – Broadway Melody of 1936

Broadway’s been around longer than the movies, and Hollywood really liked movies about Broadway. Not quite so much today, but in the 30’s, it was “sure-fire hit” material, it seems. Or it was a really easy way to make a musical, same thing.

Broadway Melody of 1936 – The Film

Eleanor Powell’s first staring role, Broadway Melody of 1936 was a non-sequel to an early film named The Broadway Melody from 1929. In it, Eleanor plays Irene Foster, who’s looking to make it big on Broadway and auditioning for her former childhood sweetheart’s latest Broadway show. Said sweetheart, Robert Gordon (Robert Taylor), doesn’t remember her and brushes her off. He has problems of his own with columnist Bert Keeler (Jack Benny) who is running a campaign against the new musical. When Bert makes up a famous French singing sensation named Mlle. La Belle Arlette, Irene assumes her identity in order to get into the show. This is taking too long, on with the furs…

Broadway Melody of 1936 – The Furs

There are 3 people wearing furs in this film. Julie Knight, Elanor Powell, and… Sid Silvers. More on the latter momentarily.

Robert’s show is bankrolled by Lillian Brent, played by Julie Knight, here appearing a in a fur stole to kick things off.

Lillian wants to star in the show, but has given Robert 2 weeks to find a big star for the production. If he can’t, she’ll take the lead roll. Here she’s back in a very full silver fox wrap.

There’s a brief musical interlude before we return to Lillian and Robert, where the last part of their conversation is accompanied by Lillian smoking with a short cigarette holder while wearing the silver fox wrap.

Okay, so, as part of the general shenanigans with Bert Keeler’s fake French singer, he has his assistant “Snoop”, played by Sid Silvers, dress up in drag. The drag is this rather nice fox trimmed dress, sporting a big collar and cuffs. I simply couldn’t ignore it.

It should be noted that, while some men are blessed with the facial features to pull this off brilliantly, sadly Sid is not among them. I suppose it’s a credit to the Hollywood makeup department that it turned out as well as it did.

Eleanor eventually “impersonates” the fake French singer in order to get into the play, and what do successful French singers wear? Giant fox trimmed fur wraps, of course.

This beauty sports a lovely collar, and we get ample closeups of Miss Powell’s face framed with the thick fox fur.

Thankfully, this wrap is given the screen time it so richly deserves, including this perfect wider shot.

There is that pointless little strip of fabric on the back, but I suppose I can overlook it. Why they didn’t just toss on the extra couple inches worth of fox is a mystery.

The wrap here is probably a “Top 5 Fur Wraps of All Time” contender, and it’s nice there’s some other furs in the film as well. Works out to a good ratio, though if you’re going to be picky and exclude Sid’s little slice of the pie it’s more like 7%. I generally don’t count anything with a Y chromosome… unless they’re very accomplished at disguising it.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 101 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1935 film Broadway Melody of 1936.

2010/03/21

Furs on Film – Easy to Wed

TCM finally showed Easy to Wed again, so I can do my “remake comparison post”. The idea of remaking things as musicals didn’t start in the 50’s. No that trend started a while back, and Easy to Wed is one of the examples from the 40’s. What film was it? Well, something long time readers will be familiar with: Libeled Lady.

Easy to Wed – The Film

Easy to Wed is pretty much the exact same story as Libeled Lady, though there’s some people singing since it’s now a musical, and, since Esther Williams is involved, an additional swimming poll or two. I suppose MGM had a crack team of specialist screenwriters completely devoted to figuring out ways to put Esther Williams in water. The only differences here are the people playing the roles as even the character names are the same.

Easy to Wed – The Furs

So we have a “Tale of Two Gladys-es”, the first the screen legend Jean Harlow, the second Lucille Ball, who in this film occupies the space between her film and television careers. It seems the people who remade the film felt the need to preserve some, though sadly not all, of the original’s costume direction.

As Gladys and Bill Chandler (Van Johnson) get their sham marriage, she starts things off with this white fox hat. An appetizer, at best, but not unworthy of notice.

Now, in terms of how this film differs from the original, the producers saw fit to present the dinner scene from the original without Esther Williams in a huge white fox cape as Myrna Loy’s Connie Allenbury wore. This was easily the best fur from Libeled Lady, and I’ll throw it up here just to remind everyone.

Gladys on the phone. In Libeled Lady we had righty Jean Harlow in chinchilla:

Easy to Wed provides us Lucille Ball as a lefty in ermine. Advantage Libeled Lady.

While Connie didn’t wear a huge white fox cape to dinner, she does get married in this mink:

Finally we have the core of both films, the furs worn by the 2 Gladys-es during the film’s comedic climaxes. Libeled Lady provided this fox trimmed beauty with an enormous collar.

Easy to Wed puts Lucy’s Gladys in a fox wrap of some, not-unworthy size. I’m still giving it to Libeled Lady, though.

The end of both films is virtually identical, where Gladys confronts Connie and Bill with the true status of their marriage, runs to the bedroom, and exits when Bill and Warren (Keenan Wynn) have a brief altercation. Both fade to credits with a 5 way argument, though Easy To Wed adds a mariachi band to the mix. Here’s Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow in the bedroom.

And Here’s Lucille Ball and Esther Williams in the bedroom.

On its own Easy To Wed isn’t a bad fur film. The last part with Lucille Ball in the fox wrap is quite nice. It suffers for the inevitable comparisons to Libeled Lady, though. It should be noted that Gladys is a kind of proto-Lucy (Ricardo), something that some may find a plus, but, simply put, I do not. To be fair, she was the same character when Jean Harlow played her, it’s simply that Harlow didn’t end up playing the same character for the rest of her career.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 106 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 9%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1946 film Easy To Wed.

2010/03/14

Furs on Film – Mr Dodd Takes the Air

Okay, back on point with this little entry from 1937. Nothing like the late 30’s to deliver that warm comfortable, familiar feeling, kind of like a big full length fox coat… Speaking of which…

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air – The Film

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air is the one of those stories everyone considers rather cliché now, but was slightly less so in 1937. The story of Claude Dodd, who finds fame after being discovered by a mattress mogul (this entry was worth it just to be able to write “mattress mogul”), going from those proverbial rags to subsequent riches. Dodd isn’t just a pretty voice, he’s got a knack for radio repair, and is soon targeted by a classic 30’s gold-digger who, fortunately for us, already has enough money for a closet full of furs.

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air – The Furs

Claude, whose name isn’t among the top 10 baby names of recent decades, meets three ladies in his travels to fame and fortune. Sadly for him, he settles down with the one that doesn’t wear furs.

The blonde is Jessica Stafford, played by Gertrude Michael, who is the previously mentioned gold digger on the prowl for Mr. Dodd’s invention. Obviously she’d been somewhat successful in previous gold-digging, judging by that full length fox.

Jane Wyman plays Mr. Dodd’s would-be girlfriend, Marjorie Day, and the one girl in the film who doesn’t wear fur. If you need to see Jane Wyman in fur, you can check her out in Let’s Do It Again, though, where she wears one of the biggest fox fur stoles of all time.

The “patent” sub-plot only shows up when we need some relationship tension. Dodd’s singing career is helped out by Sonia Moro (Alice Brady), from whom we learn the cliché of “opera diva” hasn’t changed much over time.

The core of the film’s fur fashions is this sequence at a party where Sonia performs in this excellent black fox trimmed bolero jacket. The collar is enormous, and frames her face perfectly as she chews up the scenery.

It would have been ideal were it not only trim, but I admit it’s my favorite kind, where it’s hard to tell there’s parts that aren’t fur. Alice does a song and has a conversation with Claude while wearing the jacket.

In the interest of full disclosure, there’s about five seconds worth of Gertrude Michael in this ermine fur jacket as she leaves the party in a huff.

Fortunately, the gold-digger returns later in something more stylish, this big silver fox cape, as she tries to split up Claude and Marjorie with accusations of… patent fraud!

Brief closeup of Gertrude in the silver fox cape.

The climax of the film finds Dodd up a tree, literally, with Sonia and Majorie racing to get him down and save their relationship. Sonia has a very interesting outfit, which is only fully apparent as she’s racing from the car, making it a little hard to get a really clean still. Her dress has 2 big fox cuffs, and she’s holding a what is, technically, a “fox trimmed” muff.

In the steadier close up shots you can see the two shades of fox mesh, as her big cuffs are squeezed up against the trim on the muff. Almost enough to make you forget about the annoying, pointless strip of sequins in the middle of the muff.

There’s a couple other “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” furs in the film on Sonia and Jessica as they’re arguing after one of Dodd’s shows. Overall a solid 11% on the ratio, due mostly to the rich, dark center of the big black fox trimmed bolero jacket in the middle.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 87 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1937 film Mr. Dodd Takes the Air.

2010/03/07

User Curated Fur Movie List

In case you missed the comments on the last update, here’s a link to SimonG’s list of fur films on the UK IMDb:

http://uk.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=703026

Good list. Skews towards the second renaissance in fox fashions (70’s – 80’s), which is good since I can, admittedly, be a little 30’s focused. Covers the classics and there’s a few things on there I’ll have to put on my “watch list.” There are a few “adult” entries there, so fair warning on that front.

If anyone else has a list of their favorite fur films, I’ll be happy to post it. Little information sharing helps us all out.

And since this will have to suffice for the update this week, I present Marlene Dietrich in silver fox:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33347684@N03/4390171937/in/pool-22131163@N00

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