Posts tagged ‘1940s’

2011/08/28

Veronica Lake in White Fox

Veronica Lake some cheesecake 1945

Veronica Lake in A Very Long White Fox Boa

I’m partial to Veronica Lake, but she’s yet another example of someone whose most notable years on film occurred in an era where fur fashion simply wasn’t all that great. That makes it hard to find anything worth posting a full update. It seems she was not without the opportunity to wrap herself in some fox, though, as we can plainly see here. That is a really, really long boa, too. I suppose they could be cheating and there’s two of them, but what’s the fun in thinking that way?

2011/01/30

Furs on Film – Father Takes a Wife

Back to my favorite part of the 1940’s, the bit where costume designers didn’t get the memo about how “fur is boring this decade.” Father Takes a Wife is from 1941, and falls into that period quite nicely. This was Gloria Swanson’s last film before a nine year hiatus that would eventually lead to her “comeback” role in Sunset Blvd. This was Swanson at 42, and while not quite the young hottie from her silent film days, she still cuts an impressive figure.

Father Takes a Wife – The Film

While I can’t really call this a divorce film, the plot veers close to it. Fred “Senior” Osborne (Adolphe Menjou), a shipping magnate, decides abruptly to get married to actress Leslie Collier (Swanson) and turn the company over his son, Junior. Don’t really get a lot of films about shipping magnates these days. The marriage is a little rocky as Senior turns out to be the jealous sort, and things don’t get easier when he invites a stowaway Latin singer they met on their honeymoon home with them. Hey, that’s what anyone would have done…

Father Takes a Wife – The Furs

As a successful actress and soon to be trophy wife, Leslie has quite the wardrobe. Swanson’s Wikipedia entry suggests her early history in silent film was as the first “clothes horse,” a tradition this film attempts to continue.

In a shot as brief as the fur deserves, Leslie heads off to her farewell performance in this 40’s mink. Thankfully it’s around for only about 5 seconds.

That farewell performance is apparently set in a cold place, as her stage outfit includes… this. Now, I don’t know what ‘this’ is, but I do know I like ‘this’.

Gloria Swanson putting on a muff that matches the coat and hat. That is all.

What’s odd about this fur is that I can’t recall seeing anything like it anywhere else. It’s like a mutant fox with extremely long black guard hairs.

We see it on stage in a very brief, very wide shot before she takes it off, leaving only the hat.

Which gets a close up, again, not really suggesting what kind of fur it is. I’m sure someone knows and may help us all out in the comments section. Or everyone will just skip reading all this noise and go right to the gallery page, which my analytics suggests is, in fact, the case.

Intercut with the final performance we see in the audience Leslie’s new family on her husband’s side, including Junior’s wife, Enid (Florence Rice), wearing a white fox fur wrap that is given the attention it deserves after the show.

Enid and Leslie smile at one another. The mystery fur is in the background.

This sequence could be a little longer, but the shots of the white fox are well done.

Returning from the honeymoon cruise, stowaway in tow, Leslie has a large dark fur coat.

This one is also a little quick, and not as well shot as should have been.

There’s a decent but quick full view as they all return home. The coloring in the sleeve suggests it may be fox, but can’t be 100% sure.

After the aforementioned stowaway gets kicked out of the aforementioned home, he shacks up with Junior and wife Enid. Enid takes him in wearing this very full fox jacket.

Not a common length for the time, but well done, and well shot.

If the stowaway is looking vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s Ricky Ricardo, er… Desi Arnaz in an early film role.

This one is a little short in the runtime department, but has a very nice variety of furs. Definitely could have used some rewrites to keep them in frame a little longer, but considering it was 1941, getting this many was amazing enough. There’s a couple more foxes on the character of “Aunt Julie” played by Helen Broderick, who wasn’t quite up to making the cut in the “looking at for any extended period of time” department. Still, they wouldn’t have done much to pad the runtime, and one of them was that standard 30’s silver fox stole I already dislike. I suppose pairing the two makes sense now.

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 79 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 8%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1941 film Father Takes a Wife

2010/08/29

Furs on Film – Dance, Girl, Dance

Finally, a full on, legit single film update post. Been a while, TCM, thanks for finally ponying up a good one. This one fits into a few of my favorite categories. Foremost, it’s another entry from 1940 where the costume director didn’t get the memo about that highly unfortunate sea change in fashion. It is also another entry in the “I Love 30’s and 40’s Film Star Lucille Ball” category. Too bad her career fizzled and she never got into television… Finally, yes, there’s a divorce. Though it’s only a subplot in this one.

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Film

A story of rags to burlesque to ballet riches about dancer Judy (Maureen O’Hara) and her friend / rival / friend again Tiger Lily nee Bubbles, played by Miss Ball. Both end up competing for the affections of the same man, rich guy Jimmy, whose soon to be ex- wife we will be seeing shortly. After Judy’s dreams of becoming a ballerina take a detour through Bubbles’ burlesque show as a “stooge”, their relationship strains a bit, leading to fisticuffs and an appearance in night court (not the one with capital letters, John Larroquette, and a pretty decent selection of 80’s foxes in the early seasons). Oh, and Jimmy ends up with Judy, because… it’s a lighthearted comedy from 1940.

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Furs

Bubbles rise from bit chorus girl to Tiger Lilly the burlesque queen is documented with her furs, and fortunately the focus is heavily on the latter end of that dramatic arc. Miss Ball doesn’t support the film alone. As alluded to earlier, Judy’s love interest is rich and divorcing. His ex- wife has a lot of furs to keep her warm. If you’re a fan of the lead, Maureen O’Hara, and hoping she’s in fur, I’ll just disappoint you up front.

Bubble’s may be a poor bit player, but in those days, poor bit players can afford a cruddy red fox stole with bits attached. In terms of costume contributing to the story, this outfit certainly suggests Bubbles hasn’t quite made it yet.

We switch to Jimmy and his pre- divorce wife Elinor, played by Virginia Field, coming home in this full silver fox fur wrap. She’s certainly made excellent use of her husband’s money.

Bubbles attends an audition in this white fox stole, again, with the extra parts attached. Don’t worry, eventually she becomes wealthy enough to afford furs that are actually finished.

There is a good, short close up where it doesn’t matter what leftovers are still hanging onto the stole.

Bubbles eventually makes it, becoming Tiger Lilly, but starting off slow with a fairly conservative set of silver fox cuffs. Sadly for much of this sequence she’s also accessorizing with a small dog as well. It’s here she “propositions” Judy with an offer to perform ballet at the burlesque show.

Judy’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, accepts and performs ballet for the burlesque crowd, to their great dismay. All part of the act, the recently minted Tiger Lilly appears to save the show and put on a little more “suitable” entertainment. She appears thusly:

Hey, I’d cheer for that. Miss Ball performs most of the act wearing this white fox beauty, the show piece of the entire film and a fur that is documented as richly as it deserves to be.

I’ve included a lot of shots from the act in the gallery. It’s a rather entertaining bit where she slides effortlessly between a “society” accent and something a bit more common.

Trying to keep up, Elinor breaks out the big lynx fur collar. Sadly, it’s to serve the divorce papers to Jimmy.

Another well filmed fur, with quite a few close-ups that let us enjoy Virginia Field’s face framed by the high, fluffy lynx.

Tiger Lilly is back, competing collar v collar, with this fox trimmed coat. This collar displays one of the most important aspects of a good collar: beyond shoulder coverage. For the record, the best collars have trouble fitting through doorways.

Another well filmed fur for this film to add to the total.

There are brief wide shots where you can see it’s not just the collar but some trim at the bottom as well. Yes, it seems the cuffs are notably absent, so have to dock some points for that.

Finally, and fittingly, the white fox makes a return engagement as the ladies are hauled into court after a bit of an altercation. We see here that Bubbles seems to have taken the greater amount of punishment.

Some nice shots of the back are included here as well. Obviously the ideal would be to add the last collar to this coat… lengthen it with a four foot train, add some elbow length cuffs, some additional fringe, turn the collar into a hood… Whoops, train of thought kind of ran away there for a moment…

But wait, there’s more! Elinor shows up to the trial sporting a silver fox fur muff. I like the entire outfit here, the pinstripe suit and hat mix well with the muff.

Both together, you say? Sure!

Even better than that last one? Sure!

Wow, this one works on a number of levels. It’s got a great marquee fur supported with a deep selection of additional pieces, all of which are well filmed. The furs that aren’t well filmed, particularly the few early pieces worn by Bubbles, don’t really deserve it anyway. Miss Ball is lovely as ever in this period, still likeable despite playing what amounts to the villainess of the piece. Granted, comparing Bubbles to Judy’s rather pedestrian aspiring ballerina is probably not even fair. Finally at 13% it’s a solid ratio, most of it supported by the best fur in the film.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 90 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 13%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1940 film Dance, Girl Dance.

2010/08/15

Furs on Film – The Thin Man Films

Time to revisit the gentleman detective genre with what is arguably the most iconic of them all: The Thin Man. The adventures of Nick and Nora Charles spanned six films between 1934 and 1947, and as you can imagine, the ones from the 1930’s will be featured a bit more prominently in this update. The story is as old as time itself, one of a wealthy socialite marrying a retired private eye and ending up involved in most of high society’s murder cases over the course of more than a decade.

The Thin Man – 1934

The original film is based on the book by Dashiell Hammett of the same name. There were no more books, all the subsequent film sequels were original stories. It introduces William Powell and Myrna Loy in what would become their most well known of a great many film collaborations. In it, Nick is pulled back into the detective game by an old friend becoming involved in a murder. Technically, the friend in this film is “the thin man,” but audiences assumed it was lanky William Powell and thus it stuck.

Socialite Nora Charles appears first in this short hair collar and cuffs, which would have been amazing had the fur grown a couple inches and turned into fox.

Say, for instance, something dark, plush, and very full, attached to a cape, as we see here worn by Minna Gombell. This is pretty much the best fur in the film. Suffice to say, the series got off to a bit of weak start, especially for 1934.

Nora appears again in a short haired fur, about as brown paper bag as you can possibly get; a mink that would be fashionable at any church service or funeral.

Finally Minna returns in this wrap for what will become traditional-ish, having someone in fur during the big summation/name the perp scene.

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 93 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 6%

After the Thin Man – 1936

Fortunately a couple years later the MGM costume department is on their game. Set in San Francisco, Nick and Nora help out Nora’s family with a missing person case that ends up leading to… MURDER! Nora’s cousin Selma is the prime suspect and Nick has to clear her name. Nora brings along much better furs when she travels, lucky for us, and she’s not the only one.

Leading up to murder is greed, as we see Polly (Penny Singleton) in a lovely set of fox collar and cuffs out for an evening’s blackmail.

The target of said blackmail is slain moments later, and Nora’s cousin Selma (Elissa Landi ) suddenly appears over the body holding a gun and wearing a very nice lynx collared coat, in no way looking the least bit suspicious. In case you hadn’t noticed, the film is set in San Francisco, so it’s foggy. It’s the kind of crack meteorological realism Hollywood is known for.

The lynx train rolls on to even better places, as Nora arrives to the big summation in this lynx trimmed coat. This is how to do a fur collar… from the top all the way down to the bottom.

If anything deserves a second look, it’s Myrna Loy’s face framed by a big lynx fur collar.

Penny attends in this rather distressing looking fox stole, the kind with the extra bits still attached, and even worse for them being on display the entire time she’s on camera.

On the up side, we do get brief glimpses of both furs on screen at one. There is another fur in this sequence, but not only is it a church lady fur, it’s on a church lady, and we don’t talk about them.

Side note that the murderer in the film was Jimmy Stewart, whose appearance here as a homicidal manic ended up coloring his entire career and getting him type cast as a psycho killer all the time (or not…).

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 113 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 7%

Another Thin Man – 1939

Nick and Nora, and now Nicky Jr. (a hell of an accomplishment considering the sleeping arrangements documented in previous films: see I Love Lucy) return to New York and the estate of Colonel Burr MacFay who is receiving threats from local low life Phil Church. Burr ends up dead and Phil’s the prime suspect, but Nick’s a little smarter than that and ends up figuring out who really done it. It’s 1939, so this better be good…

This is pretty good, Virginia Grey wearing a silver fox fur jacket as she plays (spoiler alert) murderess Lois MacKay / Linda Mills.

It’s a decent bad girl fur, but I would have gone straight black fox. Still, it works very nicely with those blindingly bleached blonde locks.

Nora’s fur closet is upgraded yet again, as she and Nick investigate. This fully fringed blue fox cape would only be better if it forwent the formally of having parts that weren’t blue fox.

Now that’s a blue fox collar. This piece is actually quite similar to the white fox version worn by Jean Hagen in last week’s update, Singing in the Rain.

Virginia attends the big summation (she has to, she did it) in this comparatively pedestrian version of the “standard” 30’s silver fox stole, a bit of a let down.

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 103 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 6%

Shadow of the Thin Man – 1941

A day at the races ends up getting Nick and Nora involved in the murder of a potentially shady jockey. The police ask Nick for help, since he was in the general vicinity when it happened. It’s now the 40’s and things are starting to slow down, but this one still packs some good furs in, enough to earn it a tepid “costumed like it’s 1939” tag.

Stella Adler plays Clarie Poter, girlfriend to suspected racketeer Link Stephens, and does a lot of the fur wearing in the film. She stars off with the best thing the film has to offer, this rather full silver fox wrap.

Costumers do love those broaches on fur. Not only do I find it rather unfashionable, it’s generally not recommended you stick pins in furs as it damages the leather. Lord knows I’d never want anything bad to happen to a thick, soft fox fur like that.

Stella dials it back a bit with this silver fox muff. Certainly not the largest on record, but a nice one nonetheless.

I like this pose, that is all.

So we arrive, once again, at the big summation. Nora attends with another example of the standard 30’s silver fox, one I presume she borrowed from Lois MacKay in the previous film, since Lois is now cooling her heels in the woman’s lockup now.

Stella really dials it back for the big summation, attending in what may be the same church lady fur I didn’t burden you with back at the end of After the Thin Man. At least she looks better wearing it.

Fur Runtime: approx 5 minutes
Film Runtime: 97 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 5%

The Thin Man Goes Home – 1945

I mentioned it was the 40’s right? Well, the Thin Man went home in 1945, got involved in a murder plot, and solved it. Along the way, Nora wore another church lady mink for a few minutes around the beginning of the film, but lacking any other marginally redeeming fur fashion, I skipped actually capturing the the film. It was a purely a safety consideration, as I may have dozed off and and fallen out of my chair in the process, inducing grievous bodily harm.

Song of the Thin Man – 1947

The final Thin Man film provides one final fur of note, as Nick and Nora investigate a murder on a gambling ship amidst the ship’s entertainers. Nora does show up in a single mink very reminiscent of the one I skipped in the previous film. It’s very 40’s, suffice to say. It seems someone decided that Nora should get out of the ostentatious fur wearing business, sadly.

Here it is:

Okay, on to the good stuff, this full fox wrap of shade I believe probably has “marble” in the name. Patricia Morison plays Phyllis Talbin, who wears this wrap for a grand total of about 30 seconds on screen, so don’t get attached.

For what it’s worth, there’s a nice close up of Miss Morison in the wrap for about 5 seconds.

Fur Runtime: approx 3 minutes
Film Runtime: 86 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 3%

I have to say, while the Thin Man films are the more iconic of the gentleman detective genre, I think The Falcon and The Lone Wolf both have him beat, fur wise. Still, the entries from the late 30’s are both very nice and nearly rated single film inclusions.

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of The Thin Man Films.

2010/03/21

Furs on Film – Easy to Wed

TCM finally showed Easy to Wed again, so I can do my “remake comparison post”. The idea of remaking things as musicals didn’t start in the 50’s. No that trend started a while back, and Easy to Wed is one of the examples from the 40’s. What film was it? Well, something long time readers will be familiar with: Libeled Lady.

Easy to Wed – The Film

Easy to Wed is pretty much the exact same story as Libeled Lady, though there’s some people singing since it’s now a musical, and, since Esther Williams is involved, an additional swimming poll or two. I suppose MGM had a crack team of specialist screenwriters completely devoted to figuring out ways to put Esther Williams in water. The only differences here are the people playing the roles as even the character names are the same.

Easy to Wed – The Furs

So we have a “Tale of Two Gladys-es”, the first the screen legend Jean Harlow, the second Lucille Ball, who in this film occupies the space between her film and television careers. It seems the people who remade the film felt the need to preserve some, though sadly not all, of the original’s costume direction.

As Gladys and Bill Chandler (Van Johnson) get their sham marriage, she starts things off with this white fox hat. An appetizer, at best, but not unworthy of notice.

Now, in terms of how this film differs from the original, the producers saw fit to present the dinner scene from the original without Esther Williams in a huge white fox cape as Myrna Loy’s Connie Allenbury wore. This was easily the best fur from Libeled Lady, and I’ll throw it up here just to remind everyone.

Gladys on the phone. In Libeled Lady we had righty Jean Harlow in chinchilla:

Easy to Wed provides us Lucille Ball as a lefty in ermine. Advantage Libeled Lady.

While Connie didn’t wear a huge white fox cape to dinner, she does get married in this mink:

Finally we have the core of both films, the furs worn by the 2 Gladys-es during the film’s comedic climaxes. Libeled Lady provided this fox trimmed beauty with an enormous collar.

Easy to Wed puts Lucy’s Gladys in a fox wrap of some, not-unworthy size. I’m still giving it to Libeled Lady, though.

The end of both films is virtually identical, where Gladys confronts Connie and Bill with the true status of their marriage, runs to the bedroom, and exits when Bill and Warren (Keenan Wynn) have a brief altercation. Both fade to credits with a 5 way argument, though Easy To Wed adds a mariachi band to the mix. Here’s Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow in the bedroom.

And Here’s Lucille Ball and Esther Williams in the bedroom.

On its own Easy To Wed isn’t a bad fur film. The last part with Lucille Ball in the fox wrap is quite nice. It suffers for the inevitable comparisons to Libeled Lady, though. It should be noted that Gladys is a kind of proto-Lucy (Ricardo), something that some may find a plus, but, simply put, I do not. To be fair, she was the same character when Jean Harlow played her, it’s simply that Harlow didn’t end up playing the same character for the rest of her career.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 106 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 9%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1946 film Easy To Wed.

2009/11/29

Furs in Film – The Films of The Falcon

I know what you’re thinking… I like the Lone Wolf, but what do you have in an ornithologically themed gentleman detective? Well you are in luck. Today we have the films of a gentleman (and his brother) called The Falcon. The Falcon was created by Michael Arlen in a short story in Town and Country and quickly thrown up on the screen by RKO a year later. Basically, every aspiring writer’s wet dream fulfilled by a studio looking to get into the gentleman detective film franchise business.

The Falcon – The Films

The Falcon first speedily appeared in The Gay Falcon in 1941, played by George Sanders. To quell the hysterical reaction of your collective inner twelve-year-olds, the name originated with the character’s name of Gay Lawrence. Okay, that probably didn’t help. In the original story the character’s name was Gay Falcon, which explained the name. The films fell back on using The Falcon as a nickname. Sanders  played The Falcon in 4 films, then, in The Falcon’s Brother, he passed the role to Tom Conway, who played… The Falcon’s brother, and was, in fact, George Sanders’ real life brother.

The Falcon – The Furs

The entire series was filmed in the early 40’s, but the reliable gentleman detective theme overcame the fashions of the day and provided some very nice furs. Not every Falcon film featured great furs, and no single film really rises to worthiness on its own (a couple almost make it), but taken as a group, they make for a good survey. So here’s a quick look at the fur fashions of the Falcon films.

The Gay Falcon – 1941

The Falcon came out of the gate strong with Wendy Barrie as the Falcon’s fiancée de-jour in this large white fox coat. Accented with a nice veil, the big white fox fur is well photographed for the few minutes it appears.

The Falcon ends up being a bit of a serial fiance, though Wendy would make it back for another film, this particular white fox would not. Not to worry, there’s better white fox ahead.

A Date with the Falcon – 1941

Yes, they made films quickly back then. I’m 90% certain this is Mona Maris in a red fox stole near the beginning of the film.

This sequel wasn’t the best of the bunch for furs, but Miss Maris does look fine in this fox stole.

The Falcon Takes Over – 1942

Probably the best of the bunch for 2 reasons, one, this amazing full length white fox fur coat, and two because Helen Gilbert is doing a great Veronica Lake impression.

Check out the main gallery for more of this lovely specimen. As this image suggests, Miss Gilbert is playing the bad girl. This film is actually the first adaption of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely.  If you want pretentious amateur film critic analysis of that, read the IMDb comments, not this blog post.

The end of The Falcon Takes Over includes what would become a standard trope of the Falcon films… someone appears to ask the Falcon for help on a new case. In this case it’s a group of showgirls, some of whom are wearing furs. Sadly, the other standard element of this trope is that it actually has nothing to do with the next film.

The Falcon’s Brother – 1942

George Sanders must have realized they weren’t going to have a better fur than the white fox in The Falcon Takes Over, so he wanted to move on. Or maybe there was another reason… In any case, The Falcon’s Brother did not carry the fur fashion momentum of the previous film and gives us only this silver fox stole worn by Amanda Varela.

The Falcon In Danger – 1943

The second best Falcon film for fur fashion, this one features a number of furs, on screen at the same time. First up is the showcase fur, a long silver fox cape worn by Amelita Ward, who is playing The Falcon’s latest main squeeze.

As the mystery unfolds, ladies in fur gather at the airport with The Falcon. Amelita and her silver fox meet up with Elaine Shepard in this full length mink coat.

Finally, by process of elimination of women listed as being in the film on the IMDb, I think this is Jean Brooks in a spotted fur collar, which would not have ordinarily been noteworthy without Miss Ward’s silver fox being in the shot.

The Falcon and the Co-eds – 1943

Another light entry, which gives us, at the very end, this actress in a short haired fur hat and muff.

Which wouldn’t really have made it either if not for being a few seconds away from the Falcon’s latest end-of-film setup as this lovely lady appears in a short fox jacket to ask for The Falcon’s help on another new case before the credits role.

The Falcon in Mexico – 1944

Much like the fur carrying showgirls at the end of The Falcon Takes Over that lady in fox isn’t in the next film, The Falcon Out West, which has only a single rather bland mink to show for it. Thankfully the next sequel has two very full fox jackets, starting with this white fox on The Falcon’s current girlfriend, who’s in this film for about a minute.

The Falcon sends his girlfriend off for the rest of the film then immediately catches this very well dressed burglar (Cecilia Callejo) in the act of breaking into a gallery to steal a painting for which she posed, wearing this large marble blue fox fur jacket.

The Falcon in San Francisco – 1945

We end on neither a high nor low point, as Fay Helm (I think) brings us this very nice silver fox fur coat as she bails the Falcon out of jail.

Fay’s a bad girl, so the silver fox is a good fit, as is her smoking at the restaurant she brings the Falcon to after bailing him out.

For a series of film from the 40’s this is a pretty good showing. Not all of them are really great, and there’s the oddball The Falcon in Hollywood (1944), which by all rights should have been the best of the bunch but was completely dry. Whatever the reason, the wardrobe requirements for the gentleman detective film took a valiant stand against the fashions of the day and we all got something good out of it.

Fur Fashions of the Films of The Falcon – Full Gallery

2009/11/15

Furs In Film – The Lone Wolf Strikes

Since TCM hasn’t run a Thin Man marathon in at least two weeks, we’ll stick with The Lone Wolf.  This Lone Wolf guy knows a lot of women with fine taste in furs, it seems.  This is the first time I’ve reviewed a sequel right after the original.  Now if they’d just made a series of 20 films about Melsa Manton…

The Lone Wolf Strikes – The Film

I digress. The Lone Wolf Strikes is the follow-up to last week’s The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt. If you thought The Lone Wolf and Val Carson lived happily ever after at the end of that film, well, sadly, they did not. Single, and, apparently not grieving the loss of his child either, Mike Lanyard (Warren Williams) is hired to retrieve an expensive pearl necklace. In the process he’s framed for murder and has to use all his Lone Wolfy skills to prove his innocence and bring the guilty to justice, gentleman detective style.

The Lone Wolf Strikes – The Furs

Released in 1940, but costumed like it’s 1939, this film is long on big fox furs. Probably because they were filmed back to back with access to the same wardrobe department, perhaps? Though not quite as packed as the first Warren Williams Lone Wolf outing, this film has two very nice fox coats, and it completely inverts the good girl/bad girl fur rules! Shocking, I know.

Here we have a character by the name of Binnie Weldon, played by the actually alliterarively named Astrid Allwyn. Yes, she’s not Rita Hayworth, but she fills out a full length white fox fur coat nicely.

This is a classic white fox from the period. Huge wide fox pelts create a very full coat. It’s virtually identical to the coat worn by Ida Lupio in the last film… and may well be the same coat.

My only quibble with foxes like this is the lack of any collar and cuffs, but that is a minor quibble indeed, considering the high-wattage of what is the forerunner of every 80’s mega fox coat.

Binnie steals the pearl necklace that will later involve the Lone Wolf by nefariously dating jeweler Philip Jordan (Roy Gordon) in order to do a switch, then turns it over to her boyfriend.

Yes, this white fox is on the bad girl this time. The fur is well documented in the early sequences of the film as we get to see it from all angles.

Phil was planning to give the pearl necklace to his daughter for her wedding, and that brings us to Joan Perry playing Delia Jordan and supplying the “madcap girlfriend” role for this film. For part of the film she’s wearing this fine silver fox bolero jacket.

I like big fox bolero jackets, and this is a nice one. Joan Perry isn’t Ida Lupino just like Binnie Weldon isn’t Rita Hayworth, but Joan looks fine in the fox jacket.

There’s a few nice closeups of Joan framed perfectly by the silver fox jacket.

We even get to see the silver fox jacket from behind as well, so obviously the director of photography was on the ball for this film.

The Lone Wolf eventually recovers the stolen merchandise, but sadly we never get to see either fur in the film with a pearl necklace. Everything from the wattage of the star power to the amount of fur screen-time is slightly toned down in The Lone Wolf Strikes as compared to The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt. Still, a fine outing for furs, and a 10% on-screen fur ratio is still enormous by any standard.

Fur Runtime: approx 7 minutes
Film Runtime: 67 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Speaking of comparisons… The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt and the The Lone Wolf Strikes were probably filmed very close to one another. They both feature very similar white fox fur coats. So, what do you think… did bad girl Binnie Weldon steal good girl Val Carson’s white fox coat?

Val:

Binnie:

Explore this question and more with the full gallery: The Fur Fashions of the The Lone Wolf Strikes Full Gallery

2009/10/18

Furs in Film – The Dolly Sisters

Films show up here for 2 reasons, what I’ve come to call “1 Epic Fur” or “Fur Overload.” 1 Epic Fur is pretty obvious, that’s the The Great Bank Hoax from last week, or the poster child of the entire “genre” The Awful Truth. Fur Overload is the Roberta‘s of film, a bunch of good stuff all in one place. Sometimes there are crossovers, such as The Dolly Sisters, which is loaded with beautiful furs, and anchored by something that would make it noteworthy if there weren’t a single other fur in the entire film.

The Dolly Sisters – The Film

The film The Dolly Sisters is a biopic of the real Dolly Sisters, who were identical twins famous for working in early film and on Broadway in the early 19th Century. Though the original sisters were identical twins (and brunettes), there wasn’t a spare Betty Grable laying around so in the film, the sisters aren’t quite so identical. June Haver fills in as the other sister, and she looks quite a bit like Betty, though no one is going to confuse the two. The film traces their rise from Hungarian emigrants to stardom, though the ending is a bit happier than it was in reality, especially for Jenny Dolly.

The Dolly Sisters – The Furs

This film is full of great fur fashion, though one particular piece does stand out above all the rest. Since it’s better to save it up for the end, so to speak, I’m going to run through the furs outside of the film’s chronological order. I’m also going to shamelessly add something that I know isn’t really fur, but looks pretty good nonetheless. The Dolly Sisters is well stocked all around, in terms of both the stars and supporting characters in lovey foxes and another furs.

We do open somewhat chronologically with the Sisters Dolly, Betty Grable and June Haver, doing a little command performance set up by Uncle Latsie (S.Z. Sakall playing the “S.Z. Sakall role”). Yes, those are feathers, not fur, but ultimately they’re meant to be evocative of fur, and they’re nice and big, and pastel, so I’m including them.

This film is interesting in that Betty Grable doesn’t show up in gray fox, something her costume designers saw fit to wrap her in many times over her film career (Moon over Miami, Down Argentine Way, etc.). Gray fox does make an appearance in this reasonably short sequence.

As the Dolly sisters grow in prominence, they do some shows in Paris. These ladies appear as part of the opening to one of their stage performances. Not sure why they decided to divorce the cigarette holder from the white fox stole.

The sisters, successful, return home in these heavily mink trimmed coats. When the “trim” is the entire sleeve, that’s trim I can love. The big shawl collars are a perfect match.

This is Jenny Dolly’s love interest Harry Fox (John Payne), and her romantic rival in the story, Lenora Baldwin (Trudy Marshall), tastefully outfitted in a fox stole the likes of which probably wasn’t all that common for the time period, but these are the kind of anachronisms I enjoy the most.

We’re going to skip to the happy ending of the film for a moment, where many Jenny and Harry reunite at the big show. Here’s the show’s MC, who’s got an excellent white fox collar going on there.

Lenora holds onto Harry, oblivious that she’s about to lose this little romantic entanglement. It’s hard to tell here, but she’s wearing a black fox stole over her arm.

Better close up of the MC’s fox collar. No, can’t remember who this is, but she wears “giant white fox collar” well.

Close up of Trudy Marshall as Lenora, with the black fox stole on her shoulder this time.

Here’s the best shot of the stole and the collar together. The black fox stole has a full three tiers, very nice and full, and makes for a nice juxtaposition to the big white fox collar.

And here we are, the reason The Dolly Sisters would be on this site if there weren’t a single other fur in the film. This coat is technically only “trim” but this is my favorite kind… the kind where is damn hard to tell it’s only trim.

Fortunately the director of photography was obviously no dummy, and set up this shot just to show off this beauty in its entirety. As you can see, it is in fact an enormous set of white fox cuffs and huge fox collar, backed up by the trim along the sweep of the coat.

Closer now, the ¾ shot gives us the perfect view of the best part of this coat, the collar and cuffs in all their silky white glory.

This part of the film chronicles a real incident in Jenny Dolly’s life, a car accident in 1933. Perhaps the date explains the giant white fox coat.

In the movie Jenny loses control of the car and she, and this amazing white fox coat, careens over a cliff. In the movie she awakens later with a band-aid on her face.

In the film, Jenny Dolly recovers fully and reunites with her man at the show with the MC and her white fox collar shown earlier above. The Dolly Sisters is a musical from 1945, so happy endings were pretty much mandatory. The reality was that after the wreck and the subsequent set of surgeries (not just a band-aid), the real Jenny Dolly hung herself in her hotel room in 1941. Yeah, that would have been a bit of a downer ending for a big budget musical, so they played around a little with the facts. Historical inaccuracies aside, the film provides a great showcase for fur fashion, and the massive white fox trimmed coat from Jenny’s accident is one of the best you’ll find anywhere.

Full Gallery – Fur Fashions of The Dolly Sisters