Archive for March, 2011

2011/03/27

Elizabeth Taylor in Fur

A brief detour into “current events” for this blog. Elizabeth Taylor’s recent passing gives us a reason to take a look back. Unfortunately, her most high profile roles occurred in the most low profile fur fashion years. The IMDb suggests she started in 1942 and was particularly big in the 50’s and 60’s.

She did some things in the 70’s, but none of them look all that familiar, and I doubt those will be the ones that figure into the eventual TCM retrospective. There is, of course, BUtterfield 8, but as far as movies with fur coats as plot points go, it’s a really boring fur coat. Her character should have stolen that white fox from The Awful Truth instead.

Fortunately, 50 pages deep in Flickr search results, I found some good ones:

Elizabeth Taylor

42-16655720

287

078

Elizabeth Taylor

256

By the way, if anyone knows what the story is with the last shot, if it’s from a film, I mean, you’d be doin’ a guy a solid if you posted the name in the comments.

Oh, and not to bite the hand that just fed me a quickie update, but really, guys, is it that hard to tag photos in Flickr? That last one for instance, may I suggest, oh, I don’t know… “fur.” That’s just off the top of my head.

2011/03/20

Furs on Film – Snapshot

How bout that Ozploitation flick? This one is fun for a few reasons (not to actually watch, mind you). It’s one of the first I’ve posted with a unique combination of multiple release titles and a severed pig’s head. TCM showed it as Snapshot, as that was the name it was released under in its country of origin, Australia. It can also be found under the title One More Minute (as in the IMDb), and also as The Day Before Halloween or The Night After Halloween, both a transparent attempt to capitalize on the recent success of Carpenter’s film in the states at the time.

Should note the quality of the caps is a little lower than I’d like. Amazingly, the version TCM showed was a 16:9 ‘zoom’ of a 4:3 pan-and-scan. Basically, you’re looking at the least amount of actual film possible, like seeing a movie through a keyhole.

Snapshot – The Film

Sigrid Thornton stars as Angela, a hairdresser who becomes friends with Madeline, an actress played by Chantal Contouri. Madeline convinces Angela to drop the hairdresser gig and become a model. On a shoot for a cologne ad we get to see both of Angela’s talents (this one is rated R, kids). Angela becomes the next big thing in Australian modeling, but she has some baggage with an ex boyfriend who follows her around in an ice cream truck and may or may not be trying to kill her. The ex isn’t the only suspect, and it wouldn’t be a “thriller” if he was. Madeline ends up liking Angela… a lot, (a lot, a lot), further mixing things up. Apparently there’s a twisty sort of ending, but I can’t be sure since Chantal wasn’t wearing any furs there so I wasn’t paying attention.

Snapshot – The Furs

Chantal Contouri as the actress / model who propels Angela into what passes for for the film’s plot also wears all the fur in the film. Not only that, but at least half time she’s wearing those furs she’s smoking as well.

Madeline and Angela meet at the hairdressers. Madeline enters in this so very 70’s horizontally striped red fox jacket.

Red fox was particularly popular in the 70’s it seems. Not my favorite natural shade (I prefer far more unnatural dyed shades of red), but Madeline has a couple in her fur wardrobe.

At the shoot, just before Angela and her chest meet the celluloid, Madeline gives her a little pep talk, like the concerned, supportive friend she is. This is her other major fur in the film, though again, hard to see thanks to the cut. I do enjoy the fact that she’s basically “popped the collar” here.

Here we are the club, a location with which viewers of the film will become quite familiar. The club scenes are a perfect illustration of why I take the time to edit clips in the first place, as otherwise they’d be unbearable. It’s here we find Madeline in her other red fox coat, in a long sequence that’s interrupted routinely by a horrible cabaret singer.

Smoking in her furs, Madeline watches Angela dancing in the club. The remainder of the sequence may be less-than-favorably be referred to as “filler,” but this is certainly my favorite kind.

After minutes of casual, detached smoking, Madeline intervenes when it appears Angela has met a new male friend, seriously inhibiting the rest of his evening. There may be subtext to this, but it’s totally lost on me.

Leaving the club, we see this is full length red fox coat, unlike the one from earlier in the film.

After more of the things that pass for events in this film happen, we find ourselves back at the club. Madeline finds Angela again, striding through the collected patrons in a long white mink coat with a cigarette holder perched high in her right hand. I like where Madeline is going with her fashion choices.

The cinematographer and the broadcast display issues contrive to make this more difficult than it should be, but we do get half a closeup of Madeline smoking with her cigarette holder in the white mink. This one was all too short.

If you were hoping to get a better view of the ‘pep-talk’ fur from earlier, here it is. This walk and talk gives a good chance to take in the fur, which I’ve studiously avoided naming because I’m not entirely sure what it is. Opinions are welcome.

Brief closeup of Chantal Contouri’s character framed with the large collar.

Back at the club… again, with Madeline smoking in the same fur coat, this time mostly in a background shot.

Finally we see the same fur one last time as Angela visits Madeline on the set, finding her relaxed with her fur and, yes, smoking once more. Seriously, even I have to say you should probably cut back a bit Maddy.

Yet another little obscure fur fashion gem that TCM aired, along the lines of Darktown Stutters. Granted, I doubt they were airing it because of the furs. Great examples of 70’s furs in this, and yes, I admit Madeline’s bad habit is one I enjoy viewing, from a distance, at least. Since there’s still no 70’s or 80’s nostalgia channels yet, can’t pass up the opportunity to post these when I find them. The ratio isn’t particularly great, but the quality definitely makes up for it.

Fur Runtime: approx 9 minutes
Film Runtime: 92 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1979 film Snapshot

2011/03/13

Jean Harlow in White Fox

Jean Harlow resting on the leaning board between takes of "Dinner at Eight", 1933

Thought this was from Reckless when I first saw it, but turns out it’s from Dinner At Eight. Should have known, the white fox from Reckless was larger, but ultimately didn’t get the same screen time as this one from Dinner At Eight. This one didn’t get very much either, to be honest, and that’s one of 2 major problems with that film. The other being Marie Dressler, if you’re keeping score.

2011/03/06

Furs on Film – Lady with a Past

This week we have an entry from 1932 that, considering the ratio it racks up, I’d have preferred it be shot in 1938. That’s a bit of a quibble, as it has some good furs, and the viewer is certainly able to take their time and enjoy them. Besides, it was either this or a 70’s Aussie exploitation film TCM probably showed by accident or something. I’ll get to that one later.

Lady with a Past – The Film

Constance Bennett stars as Venice Muir (a name someone should probably use in a future exploitation film), one of those rare non-madcap heiresses from the 30’s. Venice is not exactly “left at the altar,” but has her elopement to Paris canceled by playboy Donnie Wainwright (David Manners). As, obviously, Donnie is totally not a jerk, she cooks up a plan to follow him to Paris, make him jealous, and get him back. She is aided by Guy (Ben Lyon), an employment challenged individual who becomes her fake gigolo. Since this isn’t a 1980’s romantic comedy, she doesn’t end up with Guy; she gets her man Donnie in the end.

Lady with a Past – The Furs

Constance Bennett does most of the fur wearing in the film, and boy, is there a lot of it. She’s helped out by a couple others, but their contributions are slim compared to hers. In general the fur fashions are quite exemplary of the early 30’s, where designers were still ramping-up to the glorious excesses of the late 30’s.

We start with this red fox stole. I don’t care for the more common silver fox variant, so making a red fox version doesn’t help much. You can also note the very small fox trim on the dress of Lola Goadby (Astrid Allwyn) opposite Venice.

Speaking of which, there’s that exact silver fox stole on Ann (Merna Kennedy). She’s visible in this long sequence for only a few seconds, but those few include this reasonably good shot.

Before Donnie dumps her, Venice arrives to a party in this long, sable trimmed ermine coat. My chief problem with ermine is that it’s not fox.

Cut to Paris, where Venice meets Guy and eventually ends up hiring him. She’s hanging out in a cafe in this fox trimmed outfit.

This is one of the two furs the film allows the viewer to indulge, as the entire sequence provides almost four and half minutes to take it in. It is sprinkled with fine close shots such as this.

To the second fur we’ll be seeing a lot, the linchpin of the entire film, a short jacket with a rather agreeably large collar and cuffs. I’m going to say this is probably a dark sable, though it could be black fox.

The fur is onscreen for about 10 full minutes, and that is amazingly impressive even for this decade.

This illustrates a good rule of thumb when designing fur collars, the less you can see of the back of the wearer’s head, the better.

As it is onscreen so long, we do get a few fine close shots to study it further.

While the dark fur trimmed jacket is the film’s “big” fur, it’s hardly done. As Venice is building her rep as the most desirable woman in Paris, she’s in quite a few more furs. Can’t say this is a favorite, but I’m sure others can appreciate the short mink cape.

Later there’s a poorly filmed, sort look at this fox trimmed coat. Another reason to wish it was 1938, this would probably have been all fox.

Yet more, this blue fox trimmed top that also has some small cuffs that can be seen later.

She meets up with Lola again upon returning to New York. Lola is wearing… a fur coat. Not sure what kind of fur that is, but I can at least be sure it’s fur. Could be some form of rabbit.

Finally, the end of the film gives us this, a long black and white ermine fur coat. This is where she and Donnie finally get together.

Another one for the missed-opportunity pile, the fashioning of the coat is superb, with a high collar and full sleeves, but the use of ermine mitigates that. Even mink would have been a better choice here.

Lady with a Past clocks in at 39% on-screen fur ratio. That is almost four times the rough average of 10% I just sorta made up based on what I recall from all the previous updates. So, for over a third of the film, you’ll be seeing someone wearing a fur. I can, and have, quibbled over the kind of fur in the film, but if you’re a little less picky than me (and I sense many, many are) then this probably goes into the “must have” pile.

Fur Runtime: approx 31 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 39%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film Lady with a Past