Archive for June, 2010

2010/06/27

Furs on Film – Manhattan Melodrama

Words evolve, and to a certain extent the term “melodrama” no longer carries with it a particularly positive connotation. Certainly when used in the sentence “don’t be so melodramatic” or in connection with any original movie from Lifetime. It probably wasn’t so big a deal back in 1934 when it was slapped on a low budget crime film that ended up being one of Clark Gable’s stepping stones to super-stardom. Oh, and it was the last flick John Dillinger ever caught.

Manhattan Melodrama – The Film

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Two childhood friends grow up on opposite sides of the law and end up competing for the same girl. You probably should have stopped me by now. I suppose this was slightly less of a cliché in 1934, though I’m not even sure about that. Jim Wade and Blackie Gallagher are the childhood friends, and thanks to an extremely subtle naming technique, you’ve pretty much figured out that “Blackie” is the bad one. Jim’s the DA going after Blackie, and Blackie’s girlfriend Eleanor is the girl in the middle. As with all these films the moral of the story is that you’ll be electrocuted by the state if you grow up on the wrong side of the law from your childhood friend.

Manhattan Melodrama – The Furs

Eleanor is played by Myrna Loy, who is certainly no stranger to large swaths of fox fur in the 1930’s. In the rather standard role as gangster girlfriend, she adds three more to her career highlight reel.

We start out with the film’s anchor, this full silver fox fur collar that remains on Eleanor as she spends the evening with Jim (William Powell) and then Blackie (Clark Gable).

Since the majority of the time Myrna Loy is shot from the waist and usually the chest up, the big collar fills the screen.

And time you will have, as this series of sequences fills out a good 8 minutes of celluloid glory, and that’s minus the bits where they cut away to Powell and Gable.

So you get a full set of views, including this very nicely famed shot just as she departs Blackie’s pad, taking the fur with her.

Later we see one of the two other fox furs in which Myrna Loy appears, all opposite William Powell. Those kids have chemistry, they should probably star in a long running series of gentlemen detective films together…

I’m going out a limb and calling this red fox, though obviously the color can be left to the imagination. The cuffs seems to particularly suggest it. Also notable, though not particularly visible in the stills is that Myrna Loy is holding a lit cigarette for this brief meeting.

Here is the “blink and you’ll miss it” fur of the film. This white fox jacket (I think) appears for about five seconds in a sequence where Blakie is “helping” Jim’s gubernatorial aspirations by committing murder. Disappointing as it appears to be a rather nice white fox fur.

Due to some eventual fallout from that murder thing, Jim’s term as governor is a tad short, as he resigns after winning. Eleanor is there to provide moral support as he departs. She wearing a big blue fox fur collar and shot in a lovely closeup.

The size is even more apparent at this angle, where you can see how tall it is, a beautiful fur that’s simply demands closeups.

Manhattan Melodrama is a nice showcase of 1930’s fox fur collars, covering silver, red, and ending on the best… blue. The runtime stacks up at an average 10%, which is about where most of these films end up. Much of it contained in the early sequence with the silver fox collar, so don’t expect quite so much of the other two, nor, of course, that white fox jacket.

Fur Runtime: approx 9 minutes
Film Runtime: 93 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Here is the full gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama.

2010/06/20

Paramount Postcard of Marlene Dietrich in Fur

Marlene Dietrich

Originally uploaded by Truus, Bob & Jan too!

So, the blog survived another major WordPress update. Since the blog is technically about fashion I thought maybe a change of “clothing” was in order, so I kicked in the latest “official” theme and messed around with the background and masthead image.

Presented today is Miss Marlene Dietrich, so synonymous with “movie stars wearing fur” that someone went to the trouble of desecrating her grave over it. That’s a hell of an endorsement in my book.

I have my very old Dietrich in Fur page, which relies heavily on old caps of the film Pittsburgh, which TCM has stubbornly refused to re-run in ages. It’s a prime candidate for full review. The train scene in Shanghai Express is also an all-time classic, even though it’s not fox and not an entire coat. It was filmed in such a way that neither of those facts matter.

2010/06/13

Furs on Film – Remember

It’s divorce, 1930’s style again. What more do I need to say?

Remember – The Film

Not only is this another in an apparently long line of divorce-themed fur fashion classics from the 1930’s, this one has a bonus of including an amnesia potion as a legitimate, no-fooling part of the plot. It stars the less-than-romantically-named Greer Garson as Linda Bronson, and Robert Taylor as Jeff Holland, who meet, fall in love, wed, and, yes, divorce, in short order. Linda was originally in smit with Jeff’s buddy Sky (Lew Ayers) before Jeff totally violated the wing-man code and scooped her up. Sky’s company happens to have conveniently developed an amnesia drug, and he administers it to both parties in hopes that Linda will fall in love with him again, only it ends up that Jeff and Linda meet, fall in love, and… don’t divorce.

Remember – The Furs

Greer Garson’s Linda is woman from a wealthy family, and her wardrobe shows it. Since no summaries really toss around the “h” word (heiress) I won’t use it, but it seems like she fits the bill.

We start our little love triangle with Linda in this large silver fox muff as she encounters Jeff and Sky together for the first time.

Like the later fur in this film, the muff is provided ample screen time.

Not the largest ever seen, but it’s long, full and is not marred by any obnoxious silver broaches, which spring to mind for a reason.

Hey, what’s Linda holding onto in this screen prior to her scheduled departure on the the newlywed’s honeymoon? Sure hope she actually puts that on…

Sometimes dreams do come true as Miss Garson is neatly folded into this lavish white fox beauty just seconds later.

She and her new husband are set to leave on their honeymoon, but he is called away by his work, thus straining their relationship a bit.

My earlier mention of ugly, over-sized silver broaches wasn’t just a call out to the absolute worst one of all time (which I will always take a moment to complain about). Though slightly less intrusive, the costume designer should have reconsidered marring the fluid white lines of this beautiful coat.

Sadly, of the films furs, this one is given the least amount of screen time, an error of far more significance than the broach.

Later, after all the shenanigans with amnesia potions have set a similar chain of events in motion, Linda spends much of the last part of the film in this lynx jacket, or perhaps stroller length coat would be more accurate.

Not bad, it’s a little thin for my tastes.

Still, at the very end of the film, there’s an enjoyable moment when Greer Garson delivers some news to Jeff about her reproductive status in which she coquettishly plays with collar of the lynx fur while in close up.

Overall a fine effort that is flawed in its choice of which fur to feature. If only the dock sequence had the lynx and the end sequences featured the fox, it would certainly be one for the ages. As it stands, it’s still pretty memorable effort, especially for lynx fans, who will certainly enjoy 4+ minutes they get to watch Greer Grarson wearing it at the end. Of course, another entry on the long, distinguished divorce list, as well. Also one on the shorter list of “single actress in fur” films, where all the furs are worn by the same character.

Fur Runtime: approx 9 minutes
Film Runtime: 82 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

Here is the full gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1939 film Remember.

2010/06/06

Irene Dunne Publicity Still from Roberta – 1935

Irene Dunne

Originally uploaded by EmMe09

It’s a Flickr post, so I must be taking the weekend off. Yep, that’s the case, but I found a really nice one, that is more relevant than usual this time. Here we have a large publicity still of Irene Dunne in her big white fox trimmed dress from Roberta. There’s even a decent quality “original” sized version for this one. This white fox was one of my earliest posts and still one of my all time favorites.