Greetings, remember me? I’m the guy who found new ways to occupy his time. Since this is the first new post in… well, geez, I should have waited a month for the one year anniversary, but hey, no one ever said I had any sense of timing. Ahem, anyway, lo these 11 months later, I come bearing… not much at all. I had some ideas on expanding the wheelhouse a bit, as both Flickr and TCM were drying up. Of course, this sort of post (except this meandering paragraph) was one of them.
Flights of Fancy
This is purely a mental exercise where certain minor inconveniences like “reality” are not considered. The gloves are off (though usually, it’s best they stay on, for the record, opera-length, preferably); anyone is fair game to populate this little imaginary film. The idea is to come up with the best fur movie of the ’30s, with all this site’s favorites tossed into the same movie with very flimsy excuses why the costume designer could… indulge.
Obviously, the studio system is one of those minor inconveniences, so this would never happen for that reason alone. Rest assured, there are many, many, more reasons…
So, without further ado, and, no doubt, far less explanation than is probably necessary, I present:
The 30’s Ultimate Fur Film : The Battle for House Burlesque
Ruby Richmond, the nation’s biggest star, opened The Arctic Lounge. It quickly becomes the hottest new burlesque club in Chicago. She got the property from a very nervous seller, quickly discovering why. The hottest new burlesque club in Chicago happens to be located on the border of two of Chicago’s most significant rival mobs. Ruby has to use all the tricks in the book to keep her new club independent from two very determined mob bosses.
The Arctic Lounge is an upscale burlesque club with a chilly theme. As the sign outside warns: “The Temperatures are Low Everywhere But On-Stage!” Patrons are urged to dress accordingly.
Barbara Stanwyck as Ruby Richmond. Let’s say typecasting happens for a reason. Ruby worked in burlesque before making it big as Tinsel Town’s hottest new star. She wants to cultivate a high-class burlesque with her new establishment. She’s tough-as-nails and doesn’t take kindly to anyone trying to muscle in on her club. Ruby is a famous fashionista rarely seen in anything other than some large fox fur.
Greta Garbo as Ivana Ivanova, head of the Russian mob vying to control The Arctic Lounge. Sure, Greta’s Swedish, but she had a lot of practice with a Russian accent thanks to Hollywood, and who am I to argue? Every bit the stereotypical product of central casting, Ivana is usually found in modern deco takes of intricate czarina outfits in plush fox fur. Ivana is a ruthless criminal mastermind who carved out an empire in Chicago in short order, taking most of her territory from her hated rival…
Marlene Dietrich as Karla Kristoph, leader of the German mob into whose territory Ivana is encroaching. The Arctic Lounge becomes the line she draws in the proverbial sand. Old school but cunning, she realizes she may have to adapt to the old ways to win. Karla is every bit the Hollywood fashionista and a particular fan of Ruby and her famous fox wardrobe, which she models herself on. Her love of Ruby’s work may be the key to her success or the Achilles heel of her plan.
Joan Crawford as Jenny Johnson, a new dancing hire at The Arctic Lounge. She becomes a pawn in the rival mob’s attempts to gain control… And does burlesque numbers in big fox outfits.
Hedy Lamarr as Vanessa Van Pelt, a senior dancer who takes Jenny under her wing but is a plant for Karla’s gang… And does burlesque numbers in big fox outfits.
Anna May Wong as Machinegun Mai. Gangsters need gun molls, and Mai is Karla’s top enforcer and dresses according to her whims.
Carole Lombard as The Blonde. Ivana’s enforcer from the old country, skilled in most forms of violence and intimation, shares her affinity for the big fox coats of home.
Kay Francis as Police Commissioner Mary Masterson. Caught between allowing the gangs free reign over the city and knowing things will be more peaceful when one side “wins,” the wealthy heiress turned policewoman tries to do what’s best, all while suffering from her recent divorce (need to have a divorce, it’s a rule for a great fur film).
Lucile Ball as Betty Blaze, the Arctic Lounge’s famous burlesque guest star whose kidnapping from the club kicks off the big finale… And does burlesque numbers in big fox outfits.
After numerous failed plots, Karla and Mai kidnap Betty Blaze while on stage, forcing Ruby and (her biggest fan) Karla to team up and get her back. They succeed, and Karla and Ivana agree to leave The Arctic Lounge as “neutral territory” in their conflict, securing the club’s future.
That’s it, the best fur film of the ’30s that was never made and never could be. Was it a comedy? A drama? It’s whatever you thought it was. I think it could take a run at unseating The Mad Miss Manton. If anyone has ideas for improvement, feel free to post them in the comments. I might try to come up with a version for the ’80s, at least, and maybe the 70’s, but there’s a lot of crossover there.
Phew… bought another 11 months…