Archive for May, 2010

2010/05/30

Furs on Film – Break of Hearts

Back to a film that can support an update all by itself. This is another early Katharine Hepburn flick. While I’m not quite so big a fan of young Hepburn as I am of young Crawford, she doesn’t do much of the heavy fur lifting in this flick anyway. To see her in better fur, for a long time, try Morning Glory instead.

Break of Hearts – The Film

It’s been a while, but we final get another film with a divorce theme. Though they never actually go through with that. Break of Hearts is about the whirlwind romance of a brilliant conductor Franz Roberti (played by Charles Boyer) and aspiring songwriter Constance Dane, played by Hepburn. She ends up Constance Dane Roberti, a great character name even without an alliterative twist. They meet, fall in love, and get married in a single afternoon, which always works out well. She learns Franz was a bit of a ladies man, and after a few misunderstandings, decides to leave him. Then the usual ensues… he spirals downward, she takes him back and they all live happily ever after in loving co-dependency.

Break of Hearts – The Furs

As I mentioned, Katharine Hepburn doesn’t wear much fur in this film, but a lot of others do. The life of a “playboy orchestra conductor” is apparently one I should investigate as this film strongly suggests it will bring one in contact with many fur wearing women.

Woman One is played by Inez Courtney, a current main squeeze of Franz before he meets Constance, seen here in a full length fur, which isn’t mink, is brown, and is included merely for the sake of a full inventory.

Like any good workout, you need to stretch first, and before Break of Hearts gives us the good stuff, we also visit Helene Millard, who establishes her gossipy character Sylvia in this mink cape-let.

Finally we arrive at the marquee fur, fittingly in a key sequence in the film. Jean Howard wears this coat/cape made of lush white fox and capped by a beautiful high collar.

Franz is completely innocently taking this old flame out to lunch after he married Constance, which I’m sure seemed like a great idea the time, especially considering what she’s wearing.

Didi and her white fox head off to the powder room before lunch beings.

Where who should she find but gossipy Sylvia in this chinchilla trimmed jacket. Who chats her up about Franz while, off in another corner sits Constance, overhearing everything. Dun-dun-DUN!


If you were thinking, “Hey, it’d be great if that chinchilla and the white fox showed up on screen together,” then give yourself a gold star and enjoy this:

Constance starts reevaluating her relationship as Sylvia and Didi look on in their furs.

Later, Anne Grey shows up in this very large silver fox collared outfit.

The collar has some extra tails hanging off but no mask/feet to mess thing up, very nice indeed. She smokes briefly in this sequence while wearing the fur.

Finally, Miss Hepburn does put in an appearance in fur, with this silver fox trimmed outfit.

While the trim along the bottom is full, it shrinks to nothing where a large collar was completely warranted. The costume designer gets a pass on this thanks to the earlier white fox, though.

That big white fox is the showstopper in the film, and it does have a decent “supporting cast” of other furs, which help it clock in at a good 8 minutes of fur footage. For a 78 minute film that’s not bad. Apparently this wasn’t a real successful film for Katharine Hepburn. I’d attribute that primarily to the decision to keep her out large fox furs for the majority of the film, though I’m sure other film historians may respectfully disagree with me on that one.

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 78 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Push the button for the Fur Fashions of the 1935 film Break of Hearts.

2010/05/23

Furs on Film – Three From the Thirties

Trying something new this weekend. There’s some amazing furs in a lot films, particularly from the 1930’s, but squeezing an entire update out of just one really nice fur in a single film can be tricky… unless you’re The Awful Truth. Since many films don’t quite warrant the full treatment yet shouldn’t be overlooked entirely, I’m going to combine a group of of them into a single update.

So I present the first: “Thirties 3 Pack.” Which is a dumb name, so if anyone has a better suggestion, feel free to drop them into the comments.

The Law in Her Hands – 1936

The story of Mary Wentworth, who goes from waitress to lawyer and gets mixed up with the mob. How do you celebrate your new mob lawyer salary? Big white fox fur wrap, that’s how.

Mary is played by Margaret Lindsay, seen here a scene where the bloom falls off the whole mob lawyer rose. Never saw that plot twist coming…

Someone more skilled in the technicality of fashion may be better qualified to say where the sheer size of this wrap translated into full “cape” status.

The fur is well filmed, providing both wide and a couple closer shots that show Miss Lindsay surrounded by white fox.

The Bride Wore Red – 1937

I made my feelings on Joan Crawford clear with the They All Kissed the Bride update, but allow me to reiterate: 30’s Joan Crawford is an amazingly beautiful woman, and this sequence from The Bride Wore Red is one of my all time favorites thanks to the perfectly framed close ups.

Miss Crawford plays Anni, a chorus girl who ends up warmly dressed on her way to an upscale resort in the Alps as the result of a lark by her boss. She meets the humble postal clerk that services the resort and totally doesn’t end up falling in love with him.

Oh, wait, yes, yes, she does. I really don’t care about the plot of this film, just looking at Joan in this enormous fox fur collar. Honestly, one might guess it’s “red” fox, but I doubt that… color pattern is wrong.

This shot alone is worth everything. It perfectly frames Joan Crawford’s face and the collar, just low enough to catch all the fur but not so far as to reveal the remainder of the coat isn’t fur.

Those unable to concentrate quite so exclusively on collars can check out the They All Kissed the Bride update for Miss Crawford in a very large full length fox coat.

The Match King – 1932

Sometimes the best are the hardest to categorize. This outfit from the last reel of The Match King is shown head-to-toe just as it enters, allowing us to fully appreciate the work of the costume designer.

Lily Damita plays Marta Molnar, an infatuation of the titular Match King, who is dropping by to tell him that whole “liking her” thing isn’t going to work out.

She can dump me any time wearing this outfit. Like all the furs covered in this update, this sequence is marvelously well filmed, providing a variety of close shots.

The size of the collar is clearly on display here as we’re treated to a shot of this massive fur collar that drapes her shoulders.

A last closeup of Miss Damita and this fox fur collar. The Match King takes the break up pretty hard, and I can’t blame him.

No “Fur Runtime” stats for these, as they would be rather unimpressive. Each is pretty much the only fur of any note (or at all) in their respective films. That’s the point of this update, and perhaps future updates of the same sort, to give these “One Fur Wonders” a chance to shine. Next time maybe I’ll find a group of films that don’t start with “The” either.

Does this update agree with you, dear readers, or would you prefer to see single film updates? Comments on this topic are welcome.

Each film has a separate gallery:

Fur Fashions of the 1932 film The Match King.

Fur Fashions of the 1936 film The Law in Her Hands.

Fur Fashions of the 1937 film The Bride Wore Red.

2010/05/16

Furs on Film – Death of a Scoundrel

If pressed, I would have to go with Mortica Addams over Lilly Munster. That being said, in their prime, I’d give the advantage to Yvonne De Carlo over Carolyn Jones. Yvonne also had the more distinguished film career leading up to what would probably become her most iconic role. That includes this outing from the 1950s, where the decade’s affection for the fox fur stole is on direct display. Oh, and Zsa Zsa Gabor is wearing most of them, too.

Death of a Scoundrel – The Film

The film is about Clementi Sabourin (a very un-Falcon-like George Sanders), an all around jerk who, since this is thinly disguised 50’s morality play, gets his comeuppance. It doesn’t even pretend to hide that fact, since the film’s action is framed by his secretary/accomplice / quasi-love interest Bridget Kelly (De Carlo) recounting the tale of his life to police as he winds up dead in the first three minutes.  Along the way, Clementi meets, romances, and ruins a variety of well dressed ladies.

Death of a Scoundrel – The Furs

Clementi’s exploits in greed and eventual self destruction move quickly from the blue collar to the white collar, providing ample opportunity for the film’s costumers to break out classic 50’s stoles and wraps of all varieties. Interestingly, there’s not a single fur coat in the entire film.

The film’s furs are book-ended thanks to the framing device, which finds Bridget arriving to Clementi’s house in this mink stole.

The story of the titular scoundrel’s exploits leads to his first big stock market play, with Zsa Zsa Gabor the target. She’s starting out conservatively, in a mink wrap as she watches the stocks.

Fortunately that doesn’t last long. She’s initially successful thanks to the advice of Clementi, and brings him in, wearing the film’s first fox stole here at the office.

Zsa Zsa pops in for a phone call later, in this black of collar.

Clementi wouldn’t be much of a film worthy scoundrel if he had only one victim. No, he’s got lots of stuff in motion, including helping a nice lady with a rich husband towards a divorce. They dine together as she wears this fur stole.

Bridget plays “the other woman” in this other mink stole.

She ‘catches’ them and we get both in a wide shot briefly.

Zsa Zsa’s time in the film is pretty much over, but she goes out with what is probably the best fur in the entire film, this very thick black and white fox wrap.

It is, sadly, seen only briefly as she walks in and promptly removes it. A fine little gem, though.

Off to a new attempted conquest, Clementi attempts to “woo” the star of a play he helped produce. She arrives to the “party” in this white fox wrap.

This one is also sadly pretty quick, as it’s removed and only picked up as she exits, impervious to woo.

One to very much hold a grudge, Clementi orders her fired, in this longer scene in which Miss De Carlo is allowed a much better wrap, this one in black fox.

Another film short on close ups, this is the best we get of Yvonne and her black fox stole.

Fox stole/wrap #5 is also on Yvonne, towards the end of the film as Clementi is refused service at a restaurant pretty much for being a jerk.

It’s also brief and lacking in close ups, sadly.

We do get some nice clear shots of Yvonne De Carlo in the mink wrap in which she entered the film, as she leaves Clementi in a moralizing haze that practically stamps “MESSAGE” on her forehead as she speaks.

There’s 5 fox stoles or wraps in the film total, plus a collar and the minks, for those that appreciate that sort of thing. Certainly exemplary of the kind of fox fur you get in 50’s films in general and notable because there was so much of it. Granted, most of them deserved a lot more screen time than they received. The 50’s fascination with the fox stole seems like a hangover from the amazing creations of the 30’s.

Fur Runtime: approx 11 minutes
Film Runtime: 119 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 9%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1956 Film Death of a Scoundrel

2010/05/09

Furs on Film – The Great Race

I’m posting a film from 1965… about events in 1908. This will join previous time shifting entries like City Heat and the Dr. Phibes films. Still, it’s a film from 1965, and it will neatly fill the gap the in the decade list. Besides, The Great Race has Natalie Wood in 3 different fox furs in the space of about 10 minutes. That’s notable enough for me.

The Great Race – The Film

The Great Race is a broad, slapstick comedy from Blake Edwards based on the 1908 New York to Paris auto race. Tony Curits and Jack Lemmon star as rival daredevils, Curtis playing “The Great Leslie”, and Lemmon as “Professor Fate.” Along for the ride is Natalie Wood as Maggie DuBois, as a young photojournalist who starts in her own car but ends up hitching a ride with both Leslie and Fate at different points in the race. The last act of the film detours through The Prisoner of Zenda for no apparent reason, and even though critics hated it, it was one of the top films of 1965. Yep, they had that in the 60’s, too.

The Great Race – The Furs

I generally avoid early century period pieces because they’ve got a lot in common with the decade from which this film originates, at least in terms of their lack of interesting fur fashion. So my hunch is that the film’s costume designers took some liberties with the historical accuracy of the outfits that Maggie DuBois wears as the race passes through Alaska on their way to Russia. These are my favorite kind of liberties.

At this point in the race Maggie is in The Great Leslie’s car. They’ve entered Alaska, and being a slapstick comedy from the 60’s, Alaska is a barren, arctic wasteland. (You may feel free to insert your own joke about modern Alaska here.) Maggie is, suffice to say… well prepared:

This is outfit #1, a red fox trimmed parka and matching red fox trimmed gloves.

Moments later, we bounce from one end of the primary color spectrum to another, with equally enjoyable results. Outfit #2 is trimmed with silver fox, including what is either a large collar or a stole wrapped around her shoulders.

A later wide shot demonstrates it is probably large collar, as the hood and the collar wreath every part of Natalie Wood above her chest in silver fox fur.

Having floated across presumably the Bering Strait to Russia, Maggie appears in outfit #3, this one trimmed in blue fox. It’s like a trip across the fox rainbow with the best tour guide ever.

One of the few good close ups of Natalie Wood in this entire section of the film. While I’m a fan of letterbox presentation for viewing films in general, having seen this particular one in pan-and-scan long ago, I remember it did have the bonus of providing “close ups” of her more often. On the other hand… it also, unforgivably, cut to close-ups of Tony Curtis, too.

A final wide shot that allows the best view of the blue fox hat/collar/muff combo that is outfit #3.

She will soon be driven off by Professor Fate and show up in one final fur, a dark fur in a short night sequence that is sadly not well shot (for the fur, at least). Natalia Zacharenko did get to practice her Russian however briefly in that scene.

This one isn’t for anyone looking for staying power. The film itself is over a deuce-and-a-half, and this is one small part of it. Still, I really like Natalie Wood and I really like fox fur, so what’s not love about stuffing her into 3+ different fox furs over the course of a single sequence. Beyond the fur content, The Great Race is good comedy, too, one of the few films I’ve reviewed that I’ve actually “seen”, which is to say, not fast forwarded through only looking for furs.

Fur Runtime: approx 4 minutes
Film Runtime: 160 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 2%

Push the button for the Fur Fashions of the 1965 film The Great Race.

2010/05/02

Ginger Rogers Wearing a Red Fox Cape

Ginger Rogers wearing a red fox cape

Originally uploaded by Silverbluestar

Housekeeping weekend, so Miss Rogers and her rather full red fox fur cape will have to keep everyone company. I updated the Film Gallery main page with all the updates I’ve done… for a while. Included links to both the galleries and the reviews for each film. Should make it easier for anyone new to the site to check out the back catalog. I shall endeavor to keep that current with future updates.

Interestingly enough, as I organized by decade, I found I’ve yet to post anything from the 1960s. Heck, I’ve managed to find something from the 1990s and 2000s, but the 60s had yet eluded me. Now, it’s not so much that the 60s were like the 90s, of course, they were merely a decade of mink. A veritable cornucopia of “brown paper bag” and “church lady” fur. A snoozer, if you will.

So, as readers were kind enough to supply feedback for the 1990s, I’ll ask… where are all the big, thick, keep-you-from-dozing-off fox furs in the 1960s?