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Furs on Film – What a Way to Go! (1964)

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Back this week to fill in a bit more of that rather great-fur anemic decade, the . At least, the '60s still have the charm of not being the 90s. This one is able to row against the prevailing fashion tide primarily thanks to the liberal use of fantasy sequences and parody of Hollywood “excess.” Let's get going on What a Way to Go!

Shirley MacLaine in a Pink Dyed Fox Fur Cape - What A Way to Go, 1964


What a Way to Go [Blu-ray]

Genre: Comedy/Classic Comedies
Format: NTSC, Widescreen, Anamorphic

What a Way to Go – The Film

In her current life, Shirley MacLaine stars as Louisa May Foster, a wealthy, very unhappy woman who finds herself on a psychiatrist's couch, retelling the various stories of how she tried to marry for love, not money. In each case, her poor, loveable husband of choice ends up striking it rich, neglecting her, and then dying, leaving her increasingly well off but still unhappy. The film is an anthology of sorts, with Lousia's time on the couch as the story's framing device. Surprising no one, the process starts to repeat itself just before the credits roll.

What a Way to Go – The Furs

Shirley wears pretty much all the furs in the film. Part of the film's charm is the framing sequences at the psychiatrist's office, featuring Miss MacLaine wearing a mink hat. The remainder all occur in the flashbacks to her various relationships, culminating in one of the best uses of in film history.

Here's the mink hat in question. Granted, if you're not impressed, you're going to be bored pretty quickly since she never takes it off the entire time she's “in therapy.”

Due to the length of time it appears, there are many nice close-ups of Miss MacLaine capped by the mink. As should be a surprise to no regular reader, I'm not a mink fan, but I do like the hat. Sure, it should be a fox, but, well, split milk and all.

More mink from Husband One's story. This conservative mink fringe is hooded, at least.

After suffering through Husband Two with nary a fur in sight, things pick up with Husband Three. Already wealthy, Lousia meets Rod Anderson at the airport. She's wearing a or maybe fox hat and a matching trimmed coat with a cape.

This is a long sequence, as Lousia goes aboard Rod's private jet and chats, all while keeping the furs firmly in place. Sadly unlike many of the furs in the film, this is a pretty conservative fur by any standards.

She flips that around in the film's fantasy sequence, as Louisa imagines life with Rod and their money combined. She wears a series of outfits by Edith Head in the sequence, intentionally “over the top.” The first is more feathery than fur, obviously.

Things quickly pick up when the white mink-trimmed outfit with the rather large muff appears.

While mink isn't particularly my favorite, this is undoubtedly one of my favorite minks.

Finally, there's the first of two dyed foxes in the film. Would have picked something other than yellow, myself (like the color of the film's second, dyed fox), but still, not too bad overall.

Each element of the fantasy sequence is relatively brief, so individual pieces do not get a lot of mileage, but the whole thing is about a minute and some change.

Finally, Husband Four's story provides the marquee fur. Lousia meets and marries Pinky Benson, a stage performer who, after they're married, becomes an overnight Hollywood success. Pinky “embraces” his name, surrounding himself with his namesake color, including Louisa's wardrobe.

The dyed is spectacular. It's supposed to be, and the dyed hair to match is, well, “the cherry on top” is, yes, very, very cliché, but I'm going there.

Finally, one close-up of Miss MacLaine in her pink wig and giant pink fox. While the point of this was to lampoon Hollywood excess (and is the only reason it even appeared in a film shot in 1964), I would suggest to any lovely lady they can consider a cape like this for the average trip to the grocery store or cinema. Just think about it; that's all I'm saying.

The entire fur runtime of What a Way to Go! clocks in around 23 minutes. Now, all of that isn't the sizeable pink fox cape, sadly. Miss MacLaine wears her mink hat through pretty much all of the framing story, and while I don't want to say that “pads” the runtime a bit, others may not be so kind. The raccoon hat and trim from the third story consume the other big chunk. The best parts, her fantasy sequence, and the pink fox are about four minutes combined. Still, for the '60s, this is a unique little gem.

Fur Runtime: 23 minutes
Film Runtime: 111 minutes
Onscreen Fur Ratio: 20%

Find-A-Fur: What A Way to Go, 1964

(all times are approximate)

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