Furs on Film – The Millionairess

I am a big fan of Sophia Loren, but the trajectory of her international stardom rests firmly in the late 50’s and 60’s. Those were the years fur fashion was merely phoning it in, a dreary wasteland of minks that were better suited to funerals than glamorous ladies on the big screen. Loren compounded this problem by doing a lot period and western genre pieces. History teaches us the only westerns with big fox furs in them starred Mae West. Thankfully, there’s at least one bright spot.

The Millionairess – The Film

The film is about the epicly named Epifania Parerga, a spoiled (not madcap) heiress. Not just any old heiress, the richest one in the world, who is having some dude trouble. Due to one of those plot device wills that seem ever so less common these days, has to marry a guy who can turn a profit in 3 months, a system she readily games. Finding no love that way, she eventually meets and falls in love with humble inner-city doctor named Kabir, played by Peter Sellers, doing Indian instead of French. Naturally humble inner-city doctors rebuff rich heiresses every day, so their love takes another couple acts to fully bloom, but, you know the drill, happy endings all around.

The Millionairess – The Furs

The richest woman in the world can apparently afford to buck the fashion tends of the day, a fortunate development for our viewing pleasure. Epifania wears 4 furs in the film, and 3 of them are actually interesting.

There’s a brief glimpse of fur number one before a full viewing while Epifania visits her psychiatrist after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. A very funny one, of course.

Later we get to see more of this lynx wrap on a windy day at the banks of the Thames. Sadly this, like the third entry, is filmed entirely in fairly wide shots. Still, it hangs around for a while and we get to enjoy Miss Loren adjusting it and her hair constantly in the breeze.

And here’s the rich nougaty center of the film. This is a long sequence where Epifania attempts to win Kabir’s love by showing him the big state-of-the-art clinic she built next door to his crappy one. While doing so, she wears this outfit, trimmed with rich, thick white fox fur.

Since the sequence is so long, they had to make with the closer shots from time to time.

The story even has an x-ray machine gag. It’s a comedy.

There’s a lot of Peter Sellers in these shots, almost makes me wish for the pan-and-scan version. Though then there’d be even more “solo” shots of him, and I’d have to cut more.

Final view, the sequence ends with a good shoot of Miss Loren they quickly mar with an overlay of the next sequence.

Later, Epifania shows up to again declare her intent and outline the terms of that will, the one where Kabir has to turn a profit of 15k on 500 pounds in 3 months. She does so in a lovely chinchilla wrap that, like the lynx wrap at the beginning, is mostly filmed wide.

There’s a very few shifts in camera angles for this one, though they pull in a little closer at one point.

Oh… is that how this works? You give me money? Awesome!

Finally, in something of a nod to the time, the costumer eventually relents and allows her wear this reasonably pedestrian wrap. Looks like ermine, but I wouldn’t rule out a sheared mink. At least it’s white and not brown.

For the time, this is an impressive film. Lynx, fox, and chinchilla, all in a film with the big “C” saying 1960. Even more notable that the most screen time is given to the white fox collar and cuffs and not one of the more (comparatively) conservative options. Sophia Loren is in her prime and looking magnificent, well suited to be framed by big fox furs. Sadly that was quite the rarity throughout her film career. The cinematographer wasn’t really up to the task of documenting just how magnificent she looked, relying far too much on wide shots, never allowing us to linger for very long on this beauty alone and in richly detailed close up.

Fur Runtime: approx 11 minutes
Film Runtime: 90 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 12%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1960 film The Millionairess

3 Responses to “Furs on Film – The Millionairess”

  1. I was not particularly impressed with the film its self as it was too ‘sixties’ for me but i bought it all the same.
    It was worth every penny to see her wearing a coat so generously trimmed with white fox fur and it was on screen for so long; it was by far the most interesting thing in the film. To be honest i would not have cared who was wearing it although I would have preferred an actress as opposed to an actor.
    I bought my copy for £3 ($4.5) and I consider that to be an absolute bargain.

  2. As I usually say, the fast forward button can be rather handy in these situations. And since that white fox got so much screen time, I didn’t use it quite so much this time.

    I agree, that white fox is best suited to an actress, particularly one of Miss Loren’s inherent beauty. There’s only a very well defined set of circumstances where I’d let an actor anywhere near it, heh.

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