Posts tagged ‘Betty Grable in fur’

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

2008/12/12

Furs in Film – Tin Pan Alley

The actual Tin Pan Alley is on its way to becoming some hi-rise. The alley’s history as a source of popular music from the late 19th and early 20th century meant it eventually figured into the new-born film business. The one in the 30’s and 40’s, not the current one. Maybe if was the center of a modern blockbuster, it wouldn’t be at the mercy of very real blockbusters. Granted, the time that a musical could be a blockbuster is pretty much past.

Tin Pan Alley – The Film

Tin Pan Alley, the 1940 film version, follows star Katie Blane, played by Alice Faye, and her sister Lucy (then up and coming Betty Grable) as they find fame and fortune with Tin Pan Alley songwriters Harry Calhoun and Skeets Harrigan. With the Blane sisters singing their songs, everyone is rocketed to fame and fortune. Until slightly more famous, and well dressed, Nora Bayes asks to sing one of Calhoun and Harrigan’s songs, one promised to the Blanes. The Blanes skip town leaving Harry and Skeets on the rocks as their fame fades and the end up joining the Army. Which is what most down-on-their-luck songwriters did back then. Happy reunions occur in France and, despite 3 or 4 years of hellish trench warfare summed up in about thirty second of stock footage no one manages to die in World War I.

Tin Pan Alley- The Furs

Another film from the “40’s” with great fur. This one is probably cheating, though. Maybe it hit theaters in January of 1940. Maybe it was the fact that the film is set in the mid to late 1910’s. The foxes are a bit too large to really work for that period. Not that I’m complaining. This is one case where a little Hollywood costume excess works in our favor.

Things only really get rolling after Harry and Skeets are on top of the world with the help of the Blane sisters and the “other woman” shows up to poach their latest songwriting masterpiece. That would be the famous Nora Bayes, played by Esther Ralston.

Nora shows up in a fox trimmed cape with a large, matching barrel muff with tails. Not quite the same as Barbara Stanwyck’s from Lady of Burlesque, but the combination is very nice indeed.

Nora gets her song, despite polite protests from one half of the songwriting team.

She calls back shortly, wearing this white fox trimmed dress. The trim forms a bit a circle around her arms. Certainly one of the more interesting uses of fox trim.

Apparently Betty Grable was written into the film as the younger sister at the last minute thanks to her success in Down Argentine Way, where she also wore some nice fur. Here she waits for sister Katie to return home in a large red fox trimmed coat.

Alice Faye wears a coat with black fox trim as she gets the bad news about Nora and the song.

Katie comforts Alice after getting the bad news. One supposes the heat in the lavish upscale apartment is on the fritz. Again, not that I’m complaining.

The years pass and the Blane sisters have found their own success in London. They learn Harry and Skeets have joined up with the Army and are in London before shipping out to France. They decide to see them and patch things up. Alice chooses a very nice fence-mending fur with this jacket with a huge white fox collar and cuffs.

They meet up at the docks. Miss Faye looks beautiful framed in this thick white fox fur.

The entire docks sequence is, per Hollywood cliche, drenched in fog. Muddies up the view of the fur from time to time, but Alice manages to shine through quite a bit.

Tin Pan Alley is actually one of the first films I ever tried doing caps on years and year ago. I remember struggling with the last sequence, as the combination of sweeping shots in the fog soaked docks made it a rather annoying one to cut one’s teeth on. Alice’s jacket would have been even more appealing if it were all white fox, but the size of the collar and cuffs made it almost indistinguishable from a full fur jacket in many shots.

The full Tin Pan Alley Fur Gallery.