If pressed, I would have to go with Morticia 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 a more distinguished film career leading up to what would probably become her most iconic role. That includes this outing from the 1950s, Death of a Scoundrel, 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
Format: Full Screen, NTSC, Original recording remastered
Death of a Scoundrel – The Film
The film is about Clementi Sabourin (a very un-Falcon-like George Sanders), an all-around jerk who gets his comeuppance since this is a thinly disguised 50's morality play. 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 the police as he winds up dead in the first three minutes. Along the way, Clementi meets romances and ruins various 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 movie.
The film's furs are book-ended thanks to the framing device, which finds Bridget arriving at 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 fox collar.
Clementi wouldn't be much of a film-worthy scoundrel if he had only one victim. No, he's got many things in motion, including helping a lovely lady (Lisa Ferraday) 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.
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 movie, 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 tries to “woo” the star of a play (Nancy Gates) he helped produce. She arrives at the “party” in this white fox wrap.
One to very much hold a grudge, Clementi orders her fired, in this long scene in which Miss De Carlo is allowed a much better wrap, this one in black fox.
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 are 5 fox stoles or wraps in the film total, plus a collar and the minks, for those that appreciate that sort of thing. Indeed 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 fantastic creations of the '30s.
Fur Runtime: approx 17 minutes
Film Runtime: 119 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 14%
Find-a-Fur, Death of A Scoundrel, 1956
(all times are approximate)
- 00:40 – 01:55 – mink wrap
- 15:40 – 21:20 – angora hat
- 29:40 – 33:35 – sable wrap
- 39:50 – 43:10 – black fox muff
- 43:40 – 44:40 – fox stole
- 58:25 – black mink
- 1:06:20 – black fox stole
- 1:11:20 – 1:12:40 – roadkill mink stole
- 1:14:30 – black and white fox wrap
- 1:22:20 – white fox wrap
- 1:25:10 – 1:26:30 – black fox stole
- 1:32:45 – roadkill mink stole
- 1:42:15 – white fox stole
- 1:43:30 – mink wrap
- 1:47:40 – 1:50:05 – ”
- 1:52:10 – ”
- 1:59:00 – ”
3 thoughts on “Furs on Film – Death of a Scoundrel (1956)”
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.
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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