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

2 Comments to “Furs on Film – Death of a Scoundrel”

  1. Hello:

    I wanted to let you know about my upcoming book, FUR, FORTUNE, AND EMPIRE: THE EPIC HISTORY OF THE FUR TRADE IN AMERICA (W. W. Norton, July 2010). A video that gives an overview of the book can be found on YouTube at,

    You can also find out more about the book at my website: http://www.ericjaydolin.com.

  2. Fair enough, Mr. Dolin, it’s mildly relevant and not posted via bot, which is appreciated.

    If I had the energy, I’d learn about the history, it’s quite worthwhile to be informed on the topic. It is not a prerequisite to marveling at the captivating sight of Greta Garbo swathed in full, thick fox fur, though.

    If you do a follow-up on the fur fashions of the 1930’s, and then one on the 80’s, then I’ll pick that those up. Make sure to include a lot of pictures.

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