Furs on Film – Rockabye (1932)

Well, I was going to post this last week, but it kind of sucks to roll out of bed and suddenly discover the workflow you’ve used for three years now suddenly fails. Ah, codec drama! I have no idea what screwed it up, and the prospect of figuring it out is daunting, so I did a lazy workaround that involves moving mountains of data on an external hard drive and… What, you don’t care? Right, right…

Then how about one of the single most enormous fox collars committed to the screen? Rockabye, baby!

Rockabye – The Film

In this early 30’s Constance Bennett flick, she plays Judy Carroll, a Broadway actress who testifies for her former boyfriend, an embezzler. While I’m not sure about the particular legal statute involved here (probably because they made it up), doing so ends up costing her custody of an orphan she had planned to adopt. She drowns her sorrows with a trip to Europe with (le sigh) her old, rotund, alcoholic mother. She meets a playwright with an eerily autobiographical play called, wait for it: Rockabye. Judy theoretically falls in love with him and wants to take the play back to Broadway, but, in a twist that may not have been quite so cliché in 1932, she ends up with her loving manager instead.

Rockabye – The Furs

As famous Broadway actress Judy Caroll, Constance Bennett does most of the fur-wearing and almost all of the fur-wearing you’d particularly want to see. For the sake of accuracy, if not the level of bile in my stomach, I should mention Judy’s mother also wears fur. She’s played Jobyna Howland, a woman every bit as young, thin, and attractive as Marie Dressler. Okay, that’s a little unfair to Jobyna; she’s maybe 2% more attractive.

How do you get your dirty, embezzling ex-boyfriend acquitted? You go to court and testify in this:

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

He’d be in the clear if I were on the jury.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

Anyone who dated a woman with this kind of fashion sense is a-okay in my book.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

Not sure how else to put this, but: I really, really like this collar.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

I realize this isn’t precisely the insightful level of commentary you’ve come to expect from me, but, honestly, I’m a little distracted.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

Now, the collar is pretty much grade-A, but let’s not forget what’s been in her lap the whole time. As she leaves the stand, she helpfully hefts that big barrel muff, so we get a good look at it.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

The cherry on top of this is that not only is the quality exceptional, but it’s not merely a fleeting glance. The courtroom sequence provides over 3 minutes of footage alone.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

It’s followed by about two more, most with this shot as she’s riding home from the courtroom. Now, if I were to find fault with any of this, it’s that she spends the entire time in the backseat doing absolutely nothing with that cigarette holder in her hand.

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

She returns home, where we meet her soon-to-be ex-orphan for a little heart-string tugging. This shot illustrates a point I made in an earlier update. The better the collar, the less of the head you can see from the back (or the side, for that matter).

Constance Bennett in a Fox Fur Collar and Muff - Rockabye 1932

There’s another fur in the film? Oh, right, yes, there is. Not that I think it matters at this point. There’s this probably item that I’ll call a wrap since “bib,” while seemingly more accurate, doesn’t sound all that fashionable.

Constance Bennett in a Mink Wrap - Rockabye 1932

For a film that starts so spectacularly, it briefly descends into the depths of mediocrity with Constance Bennett in this most basic of full-length mink coats. This fur is given all the screen time it deserves, which is: not much at all.

Constance Bennett in a Mink Cape - Rockabye 1932

Finally, in what would have been a fur with a pretty decent collar in any other film but ends up being an afterthought here, we see Virginia Hammond in this black fox trimmed wrap.

Virginia Hammond in a Fox Trimmed Cape - Rockabye 1932

It is a lovely, full-body trim, one that I might ordinarily lavish a bit more attention upon, but, really, you can scroll up and call it even.

Virginia Hammond in a Fox Trimmed Cape - Rockabye 1932

While the total Fur Ratio is 19%, and that’s pretty darn impressive, the only fur that matters is actually on screen for a total of five and a half minutes. That makes the “Awesome Fur Ratio” about 6%, but that’s still not shabby. That five and a half minutes is filled with close-ups that lavish the appropriate amount of attention on Constance and that fantastic outfit.

Fur Runtime: approx 14 minutes
Film Runtime: 75 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 19%

3 thoughts on “Furs on Film – Rockabye (1932)

  1. I have this film and I concur that her fur-trimmed coat is just stunning.

    As well as being an amazingly beautiful woman, Constance Bennett seemed to be very fond of huge fox collars. I have two particular photographs of her, one is a similar outfit to Rockabye but the coat appears to be made of leather. The other is the photograph that I mentioned many moons ago where she is sat on a bar next to a bald-headed man; I have searched for ages and I still cannot establish what film it is from.

    Well yes, I must agree that Jobyna Howlands is not exactly an oil painting but where would the thirties films be without the bossy old matriarchs, so elegantly attired and always wearing fur? I just know you are going to respond to that and I will not like your reply. Such is life and I suppose we will continue to agree to disagree.

  2. Constance’s film certainly seem to have been a strong indicator of the amazing “excess” of the later part of the 30’s. That’s “excess” in the best sense of the term, of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, perhaps “never-ending excess.” As usual, those rarely pan out.

    Honestly, I don’t think I can do worse than “every bit as young, thin, and attractive as Marie Dressler.” That was withering. If I do come up with something better, I’ll save it for the next bossy old matriarch.

  3. I also have this film, and this is one of my all time favourites. It is a perfect example of how good it looks with contrast between figure-shaped, close-fitted coat and a huge fur collar. Absolutely lovely.

    The Green Fairy: I am very curious of the pictures you mention; are those photos published somewhere, or can you suggest how I can see them?

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