When I first saw Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I thought it was an excellent throwback/satire of my favorite era of filmmaking (fur fashion-wise at least), the 1930s. It was initially meant to be adapted as a film in 1939, and it just took seventy years to make it to the screen. Lucky for us, no one thought it needed to be retooled for 2008, and they cast Amy Adams.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – The Film
Hard to believe, but this is a movie about a day in the life of a character named Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand). I know, shocker. Thanks to a bit of subterfuge, the titular character loses her job as a governess and slides into a new one. That job is for Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), an American actress/singer, who does not need a governess, but a social secretary. The straight-laced Miss Pettigrew helps the scattershot Lafosse with her love life, and she returns the favor.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – The Furs
This show is all Amy Adams. There are two main furs in the film, and they are neatly arranged right next to each other in the runtime, and both are on screen for an extended period. First is this mink.
This is the main fur in the film for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the longest appearing, and second is Amy Adams’ performance in the role of Delysia Lafosse while wearing it.
This section of the film is about Miss Pettigrew helping Delysia avoid “romantic entanglement” with one of her three would-be boyfriends. She attempts to help Delysia focus, but she suddenly notices the fur she’s wearing and utters the greatest line in cinematic history (I may be biased), “There is something so sensual about fur next to the skin, don’t you think?”
It would have been wonderful if the director and editor saw fit to keep the camera on Amy Adams while she delivered that line, but alas, this is not the case. In fact, the editing of this sequence is a matter of frustration. Cinematically, I understand the constant cuts to Miss Pettigrew’s reactions are meant to be a stand-in for the audience, but you just don’t take focus from Amy Adams vamping around in a fur coat.
My final quibble with this scene is simply to magnify my formal complaint anytime not-fox appears on the screen. Only this time, I feel I have actual historical precedent to say, “it should have been a fox.” I’m just saying, imagine this scene and the coat from The Awful Truth. It would have been a fox coat if this had been made in 1939.
The second fur is also frustrating because it’s 100% period-authentic, just one I’ve never cared for.
I know, I just made a stink about not-fox, but this silver fox stole with mask and paws is my least favorite piece of fur fashion that was highly common in ‘30s films. As a matter of personal taste, I prefer you finish actually making the garment before you sell it.
Delysia wears the stole at a fashion show. You’ll see several furs on extras in this sequence, though none are particularly memorable. (The extras, not the furs). She has a conversation with Edythe Dubarry (Shirley Henderson), who has something interesting on the back of her chair, but she is never seen wearing it.
The film is a love letter to the films of the period, and Amy Adams plays a pitch-perfect “zany, madcap” heiress. It’s enjoyable to watch the movie and be familiar with the “source material,” though it holds up on its own if you’ve never seen a ‘30s comedy before. It would have been a modern masterpiece if the mink had been a fox, and the editor fired the second they turned in a cut that did not focus entirely on Amy Adams.
Fur Runtime: approx 9.5 minutes
Film Runtime: 91 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10.7%
Find-a-Fur: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, 2008
(all times are approximate)
- 17:40 – 25:33 – mink coat
- 26:55 – 35:15 – silver fox stole
- 39:35 – ”