Furs on Film – American Dreamer (1984)

It’s DVD time! Unlike The Gumshoe Kid, there is an outside chance American Dreamer may one day be delivered in a slightly higher resolution, but for now, we will have to make do with advanced technology. This exemplifies that we’re still at the “garbage in, garbage out” stage of AI upscaling. There’s only so much you can squeeze out of a shitty VHS rip, while a crisp DVD will yield acceptable 1080p results.

American Dreamer – The Film

This is the tale of aspiring mystery writer and current housewife Cathy Palmer (JoBeth Williams), who wins a writing contest and goes to Paris. She is hit by a car, resulting in a standard version of cinematic amnesia where she thinks she’s the protagonist of her own story: Rebecca Ryan. It’s amusing as the contest is proto-fanfiction, writing a story for an in-universe famous detective character. This contrivance is necessary for a lot of what follows to work, and even that is stretching it severely.

American Dreamer – The Furs

JoBeth Williams in a Red Fox Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

We open with Rebecca Ryan, a world-famous detective, solving the case.

JoBeth Williams smoking in a Red Fox Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

Rebecca is the 80s Alexis Carrington Colby of detectives, right down to her full-length a More cigarette. Yes, I would have loved to watch that series.

It is revealed we’re watching Cathy writing her Ryan fanfic contest submission.

JoBeth Williams in a Crystal Fox Fur Stole - American Dreamer, 1984

Fast forward (a lot) to Cathy having taken on the identity of Rebecca after her accident. She assumes Rebecca’s identity and lavish lifestyle via a perfect storm of plot contrivance.

The stole is a pleasant supporting piece, even if it is a little on the thin side.

JoBeth Williams in a White Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

Cathy and her “sidekick” (the author of the Rebecca Ryan novels) embark on an investigation. It’s meaningless (or is it?) and simply an excuse for various comedy bits, which include “drunk Cathy” in this white coat. This is either a sheared mink or, I admit: faux.

JoBeth Williams in a White Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

Does the rather slim profile sheared or maybe faux fur seem out of place in 1984 on a character clearly inspired by Joan Collins’ high-profile fox wearer? Yes, I thought it did.

Then the reason became apparent.

JoBeth Williams in a Wet White Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

So, either it was faux all along, or the damp stunt coat seen after that is much easier to believe than the rather ill-considered faux blue fox fur Dolls attempted.

JoBeth Williams in a Red Fox Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

The amnesia storyline (not the film) climaxes with an extended chase scene in which Cathy wears the same red fox fur coat she imagined in the opening scene. 

JoBeth Williams in a Red Fox Fur Coat - American Dreamer, 1984

We see even more of it while the sequence arrives at a far different conclusion. Always mix in some severe mental trauma in your light-hearted comedy romps.

Change the channel because the fur is over, even if the movie is not. The contrivances in the plot necessary to support the narrative may as well make this a sci-fi movie; they are so fantastic. It’s an 80s comedy, so you’re not meant to ask many questions. I am not here to quibble about the hows, but I simply appreciate that pretty ladies with severe mental issues could demand a wardrobe full of furs and get them in most 80s movies. 

Fur Runtime: approx 6.5 minutes
Film Runtime: 105 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 6.3%

Find-a-Fur: American Dreamer, 1984

(all times are approximate and are affected by the cut of the film)

  • 02:00 – 03:00 –  red fox coat
  • 28:00 – 29:45 – crystal fox stole
  • 33:20 – sheared white mink
  • 42:30 – 45:00 -“
  • 1:20:30 – 25:15 – red fox coat and hat

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