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Furs on Film – Love Is A Headache (1938)

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And we’re back.

When I find out who the “we” is in this one-man operation, I’ll be sure to fire them.

We return with another of the increasingly rare gems that TCM has seen fit to dole out from that most halcyon of fur fashion years, 1938. It is a lovely film about a Broadway star named Charlie that had the potential to be an all-time classic, but they messed it up in the end, literally. Love Is a Headache is a headache.

Love Is A Headache – The Film

Fortunately, “Charlie” is short for Carlotta, last name Lee, a star on the Broadway stage whose latest production did not fare well. She’s getting blasted by Peter Lawrence, a newspaper columnist who is, of course, secretly in love with her and is only trying to help. Her publicist, Jimmy Slattery, decides a publicity stunt is needed, so he arranges for her to adopt a couple of kids, for which the casting call no doubt used the term “precocious.” While this doesn’t speak highly of New York City’s adoption agencies circa 1938, “Charlie” gets the kids and winds up liking the heck out of them while eventually getting married to Peter. You’d think this was written in Hollywood or something.

Love Is A Headache – The Furs

With one notable exception Gladys George, as “Charlie,” does all the fur-wearing work in this film. I’d suggest today’s ladies of Broadway could take a lesson or two from her sense of style.

First up is that exception I noted two sentences ago. This would be Fay Holden, playing a bit role where she visits Peter Lawrence (Franchot Tone) to get some better press in his column wearing this enormous fox . Sadly, this is the fur we see the least of in the entire film, but it is nicely featured when it appears on screen.

Gladys, as “Charlie,” appears first in this cape.

Pre-adoption, Gladys is wooed by millionaire Reggie O’Dell (Ralph Morgan, who, if he looks familiar, sounds familiar, and has a familiar last name, is because he’s Frank Morgan’s brother, he’s Frank Morgan lite).

Gladys moves fluidly between the silver fox and her next fur, one I thought was just black fox, but later, in different lighting, suggests it’s something else. The top guard hairs of the fur muff that complement the large collar are just visible at the bottom.

Here is a good close-up of Gladys in her fur collar.

Here’s where the lights catch the “not-black” parts of the fur collar; also, you can see a better view of the muff. It is visible in a few shots, but primarily wide ones when she’s moving around, and those make for bad stills.

Next up, cape, of the sort very common to 1938, though this one is not the full ankle-length version that we’re used to. Still, a fine addition to the film’s wardrobe.

This cape and the next outfit make up the bulk of the film’s fur runtime (again, there’s another notable exception here)—an excellent way to spend your fur gazing time.

Next up is the fox-trimmed dress, the (best) fur that takes up the most screen time. You can see the muff/purse accessory in this shot.

As Gladys spends nearly five minutes in this outfit alone, you get a lot of nice shots of it, including close-ups like this.

We are given nice upper body framed shots like this one. My only quibble: it needed a much larger collar and cuffs.

So that’s the end of the film as I’d prefer to see it. If you’re interested in being picky, there’s another fur in the film, one that Gladys wears for what constitutes much of the last act. Sadly, that fur is a rather distressed-looking mink, muskrat, or some equally unappealing drab brown stole with, you guessed, a bunch of little rodent heads hanging off it. Honestly, to this point, the film had been destined for greatness, and then to wrap on that fur was a severe disappointment. So, my runtime figures don’t include it. If they did, it would be more like 20-25%. If they’d only swapped that ratty piece and the one by Fay Holden, in the beginning, this film would easily be a hall of fame contender.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 73 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 16%

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