Posts tagged ‘black fox’

2011/08/14

Furs on Film – Funny Lady

More color. 70’s color! 70’s color about the 20’s and 30’s! The 70’s don’t get enough credit for some nice furs, because, well, it’s hard to see anything in the shadow of the blinding brilliance of the 80’s. Most period pieces are as much a product of the time in which they are produced, so lucky for us there was no problem with big furs in the 70’s.

Funny Lady – The Film

Funny Lady (1975) is a sequel to the film Funny Girl (1968), both biographical of Fanny Brice, an early success in stage, radio, and film. Staring Barbara Streisand, Funny Girl was one of her first big hits. For what it’s worth, there’s s bit of fur in Funny Girl, but it’s from the 60’s about the Teens and 20’s, so it’s yawn-worthy. Funny Lady deals with Brice’s later life in the 30’s (yeah!), and her marriage to showman Billy Rose (James Caan).

Funny Lady – The Furs

As Brice, the subject of this two-hour plus biopic, Streisand does most, but not quite all, the fur wearing. Brice is depicted as the classic Hollywood star from the period, and that includes a lot of fur. One of the reason I’m rather fond of that period, indeed.

The opening scenes are set earlier, in the late 20’s and the costume designer (sadly) went for a bit of realism. Brice wears some dark, short-haired furs, such as this wrap.

Followed by this, another bit of brown fur trimming a fabric top. The horizontal pelt work is mildly interesting. This scene also features Miss Brice smoking in fur, using a short cigarette holder.

Finally, someone remembers they were designing costumes in the 70’s. Here’s a nice white fox stole, with Fanny’s somewhat “signature” cigarette holder. Good shot of the white fox here, very high on the shoulder.

Streisand spends most of this lengthy sequence seated, but there is a short shot of her changing seats where we see more of the white fox stole.

The cinematographer rightly keeps Streisand in frame most of the time, and most of the time she’s smoking with that cigarette holder.

“Most” of the time. Probably one of the few on the planet who’d notice this, I admit, but she “mysteriously” looses the holder at the very end of the scene. Here she is smoking without it right before leaving. This will not go down as one of the great goofs of cinematic history. I’ll tell you the greatest goof: the character Helen Shirley wears two different full length fox coats at the end of Christmas Vacation, one outside, one inside.

On to the marquee fur. One that’s hard to describe, and I like it when that happens. Show’s some creativity on the part of the costume designers. This appears to be a kind of wrap / collar made from fox tails with a more easy-to-describe matching fox muff.

Like the white fox stole, this item also receives the attention it deserves in this long sequence between Streisand and Caan. It includes a few nice closeups.

And we see it from a few angles, always a nice bonus.

It also tickles my preference for colors that don’t occur in nature. This looks like a nice, dark, richly saturated plum dyed fox.

Streisand doesn’t do all the heavy lifting in the film, though if you blink, you’ll miss the other stuff. Well, not quite, but certainly nothing major. This lady in an external shot with the black fox trim probably isn’t even visible if you’re not seeing the film in its original aspect ratio.

Up next is the part of the film that almost becomes “padding.” It’s a black fox stole, though, a perfectly nice one, in fact. Sadly it’s worn in a very “moodily” lit sequence over a black dress (which, fashionably speaking, is a great match). So it’s really hard to see a lot of the time.

Not all the time, of course, and this shot at the mirror where Fanny lights up for another smoke while wearing the stole is quite clear. It moves from this to a full musical number on a dimly lit stage that, again, doesn’t do the stole much justice.

Another non-Streisand fur, a nice one, but a quick one. This blue fox stole needed a better, longer shot.

It also needs to be in a shot that doesn’t remind me that karakul is actually considered a “fur.” I’d say it’s a fur I actually “hate” but I don’t consider it a fur, just some sick joke by someone who wanted to associate one of the ugliest things you can wear with one of the most beautiful.

We do end on a better note, though this one is quite literally a “blink and you’ll miss it” fur. Brice is leaving her radio show, pulling on this really full silver fox stroller coat. It’s around for a couple seconds in a hallway then a couple more in a very wide shot outside the studio.

20 minutes of fur sounds impressive, but the move is over 2 hours long, so the ratio clocks in at 15%. According to the Wikipedia article, they had to cut to get to that length. Hope there weren’t any more great furs that ended up on the cutting room floor. A solid entry, and worthy addition to any library. Fanny’s smoking habit and affection for holders will be polarizing for some, I suppose, but obviously I’m in the ‘pro’ camp on that one. Actually, if I had to nitpick, I’d say the holder was a little too short.

Fur Runtime: approx 20 minutes
Film Runtime: 136 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 15%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1975 film Funny Lady

2011/06/05

Furs on Film – I’ll Take Romance

Hey, I should post one of these “review” things… Admittedly the allure of just tossing out something I find on Flickr each week is pretty strong, but this is what I’m “supposed” to be doing, after all. This entry is from the late 30’s, that most special of times, and this film is another fine example of why.

I’ll Take Romance – The Film

This film is based around the romance of kidnapping. Just one of the many felonies made attractive by Hollywood’s lighthearted romantic comedies over the years. Fonts of juvenile delinquency worse than comic books, they are. Elsa Terry (Grace Moore), budding opera singer, is contracted to do a show in Buenos Aires, but isn’t going thanks to a better offer in Paris. James Guthrie (Melvyn Douglas), responsible for getting her to the Buenos Aires show, meets and ends up romancing her, but she still refuses to go. Elsa enjoys his company and, forewarned, plays along when Guthrie puts her on the “wrong” ship. That’s only the fake kidnapping in the film, there’s more real ones later. Lighthearted-romantic-comedy-immunity applies, though, and everyone lives happily ever after, instead of, you know, in a supermax facility.

I’ll Take Romance – The Furs

More Broadway divas in fur here, as actual-Broadway-turned-Hollywood star Grace Moore does almost all of the fur wearing, and all of it you’d want to see. Grace’s character has an “aunt,” you see, the kind scraped up from the leftovers of Marie Dressler’s fat and wrinkles (Helen Westley), who disgraces a silver fox fur for a mercifully brief few seconds early in the film.

Elsa’s first fur is not only refreshingly unique, but given quite a bit of screen time.

The silver fox fur trim on this dress is thick and heavy, just the way I like it.

One might say the 80’s big shoulder craze had nothing on this.

How you really boost your on-screen fur time? Easy, if you’re a musical, you do a number.

Elsa sings wearing the silver fox, accumulating an impressive seven minutes and some change in the big fur trimmed dress.

This next one is kind of tricky, because, while it suggests that it is pretty impressive, the age old quandary of black fox at night rears its… well, not exactly ugly… mostly just “hard to make out” head.

Most of the time she’s wearing this it’s in the dark backseat of a cab or on the equally dark deck of the ship. However, very briefly, she enters her stateroom and we get a better idea how nice it is.

Sadly this is a very short scene, but it does look rather nice for these few seconds we can actually make it out.

To the marquee fur, a white fox cape, as usual. Also a pretty good example of why white fox should always be your “go-to” choice for evening fur filming. Because… you can see it.

And this one is, like most from this period, rather hard to miss.

Melvyn’s getting himself a handful. Easy there, cowboy.

This is a good sequence, giving up almost 3 minutes of white fox goodness. Sadly, Melvyn’s also in frame the entire time.

The film doesn’t stop there, providing this shorter tidbit on the dock where Grace appears in a coat with a large fur collar.

This is fairly short, and while a very nice collar, it’s not a particular loss that we don’t see it for very long.

To cover absolutely everything, there is another sequence near the end where Grace wears a different fur trimmed dress, but there’s not much fur and it’s very hard to see. Hard to film black fur even in the daytime. Even without this sequence the ratio clocks in at an impressive 16%, so there’s no reason to pad the totals with it. The white fox cape is virtually definitive of the period, and makes the film worth a look all by itself.

Fur Runtime: approx 14 minutes
Film Runtime: 85 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 16%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1937 film I’ll Take Romance

2010/09/19

Furs on Television – Deceptions

When TCM gives you lemons, you find an alternate source of lemonade. Thanks to an associate of mine for providing the “raw material” for this one. In my defense, I actually have a copy of Deceptions from years back, when it was a bit of fluffy filler on the Encore network. Cap quality wasn’t quite so good back then. Hey, if it was, I’d be posting all those Dynasty caps I have… A first here, too, as Deceptions is my first TV miniseries induction. Oh yeah… all those Lace caps I have suck too, sorry.

Deceptions – The Miniseries

I’m a little fuzzy on the details for a variety of reasons, and this little trip down 80’s nostalgia lane isn’t exceptionally well known. Hell, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. This is a dual twin role, trading places, spring-for-split-screen-maybe-once-or-twice story, where Stephanie Powers does what she did very well in the 80’s, wear large fox furs. Oh, and play twin sisters Sabrina Longworth & Stephanie Roberts, one a boring housewife, the other a jet-setting London dwelling rich girl. They have the amazingly original idea to trade lives, and comedic hi-jinks ensue, like kidnapping at gunpoint.

Deceptions – The Furs

One twin is a rich 80’s girl, what more do I need to say about the contents of her closet? Not much, because we actually see the contents of her closet in one scene. Since lives are traded, it’s really the housewife that’s wearing most of the furs, but let’s just say it’s Stephanie Powers and be done with it.

Staring slow, the ennui of the jet-setting Sabrina (you could guess she was the rich, interesting one, because she had the cooler name) limos to her London mansion in this coat. It’s a black fur at night, which may in fact be a very good fashion choice, but it is pretty much the worst choice if you’re actually filming it. Light falls on it briefly when she goes inside.

The sisters meet up in Venice to celebrate their birthday. Sabrina brings her marquee fur to the party, a full length, white fox trimmed sheared cross fox coat. Now, this coat conflicts me, yes, it’s fox, but the shearing bugs me. On the other hand, the shearing does accentuate the white fox collar and cuffs. Oh, and she’s smoking while wearing it.

The plan is hatched and the sisters separate, “Stephanie” taking up Sabrina’s life, and furs, and heading back to London wearing the full length fox coat.

To revisit the black fur at night issue, as we see in Stephanie’s close up, this coat works much better in the dark. It’s far more visible than Stephanie’s classic 80’s bouffant, and that’s saying a lot.

Returning to the mansion, Stephanie settles in, falling to the bed in her full length fox coat to check out her view in the overhead mirror.

I mentioned the closet earlier. Here it is. I’d almost say it’s disappointing in a way. Only 3 full length 80’s mega furs? They could have done better than that.

Injecting a little more variety to the program, the next fur is this silver fox vest/jacket. It’s a bit more “sporty” that way, but I’ll completely shock you and say I’d have preferred the entire thing be silver fox.

I grant, it’s hard to make fox look sporty, and I’d argue that’s part of the charm.

Next up is probably my favorite from the film. Sadly, it’s not given the lavish attention of the marquee cross fox coat. This huge black fox wrap simply overflows all around Miss Powers.

Most the shots don’t give it the credit it deserves, and things are further complicated by the fact that this is the scene where Stephanie’s relationship with Sabrina’s British boyfriend get’s a little “complicated.” By which I mean, it involves attempted asphyxiation.

In an effort to bring down the mean British guy, Stephanie breaks out the full length cross fox coat again in the lengthy climax of the entire miniseries.

The moral of this story? British guys are mean to attractive American women in large fox coats. For shame… for shame….

Don’t worry, Stephanie’s amazingly well groomed husband shows up to sort of save the day. In fact, the climax of the film has a bit in common with The Mad Miss Manton, as they both involve the principle bad guy getting offed by a plot irrelevant police sniper.

Being a miniseries, there’s a lot of runtime to kill, so the ratio is kind of slim. Still, even 6% nets you like 12 minutes of 80’s fox goodness. Deceptions is pretty much a poster child for 80’s fur fashion, and possibly 80’s fashion in general, I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t paying attention to anything else. While I still ultimately rank the 30’s as the better decade overall, 80’s is a close second, and, without a doubt, the reason this blog exists today.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 185-ish minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 6%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1985 Television Miniseries Deceptions

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.

2010/08/08

Furs on Film – Singing in the Rain

I’d like to say this isn’t a “fall back” update, but it is. I think I’ll have to readjust my standards if I’m going to have a steadier stream of updates. Or the next decades’ Thirties-esque renaissance of enormous fur fashions needs to get here sooner. (You heard it here first… I hope.)

Singing in the Rain – The Film

Another decade hopping entry, this one from 1952 set in 1927 when silent films were being replaced by those state-of-the-art “talkies.” Someday they’ll remake this film only it’ll be about 3D. Silent film couple Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont are America’s current set of sweethearts on screen, but have a slightly more complex relationship off screen. Lina’s voice isn’t quite up to the difficult task of “being heard” and jeopardizes their first major talkie. Don has a chance meeting with Kathy Selden (Debby Reynolds) who, in a completely unexpected twist, is a enormously talented and endearing woman with whom he falls deeply in love. Despite Lina’s best efforts, they end up living happily ever after.

Singing in the Rain – The Furs

Jean Hagen is Lina Lamont in the film, and, as a successful silent film star, wears (almost) all the furs. The roll earned her a Best Supporting Actress nod.

The film starts with the premier of Don and Lina’s latest film, The Royal Rascal, with a staple of film-making from the period: the red carpet arrival sequence. There’s a couple vaguely interesting pieces on display here.

This chinchilla that is is quickly removed to the dragging position. Reminds me of bit from Get Smart where Max asks a movie star why she has 2 minks, and she responds to the effect of “one for wearing, one for dragging.”

Enter Lina in this coat with a very large white fox collar. Lina spends most of the opening silent, the reason for which becomes obvious towards the end.

Close up of the collar, the white fox very nicely frames Jean Hagen’s ultra-blonde locks. The entire outfit is a 50’s musical version of the classic flapper look. It gets points for the inclusion of white fox, and quickly loses them for the want of a very long cigarette holder.

Now we have a brief detour through a single bit in the film, a musical number that features a fashion show. This is another trope that started in the 30’s and sort of came back in the 50’s with musicals, like… this one. Sadly, most of the furs (or attempts at simulating them) aren’t all that great, like:

Meh:

Not really trying:

BINGO. Yes, the best thing in the film, visible for but a few brief seconds as the lines “If you must wear fox to the opera, dame fashion says: Dye it!” Could agree more, my friend, couldn’t agree more.

Lina wears this black fox stole while attempting to get vocal coaching. Like our next entry, it’s the kind that has a few too many extra bits for my liking.

Lina heeds the films advice, though she chooses a slightly less saturated pink for her final fur of the film.  She wears this pink fox fur stole whilst in contact negotiations/blackmail with the studio boss.

Closer angle, providing a good shot not only of the fur, but Lina’s highly color coordinated pink gloves.

So, we’ve got some variety and a couple decent foxes as anchors. While I would have preferred the pink fox wrap from the fashion sequence have been all fox (same for the white fox in the opener), at least it got the color right. If there’s no danger of inducing blindness, then there’s not enough dye for me. The ratio is 8%, because Lina spends a good few minutes in both the white fox and the pink fox.

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 103 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 8%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1952 film Singing in the Rain.

Warning, editorial content: Seriously, WTF?

2010/05/16

Furs on Film – Death of a Scoundrel

If pressed, I would have to go with Mortica Addams over Lilly Munster. That being said, in their prime, I’d give the advantage to Yvonne De Carlo over Carolyn Jones. Yvonne also had the more distinguished film career leading up to what would probably become her most iconic role. That includes this outing from the 1950s, where the decade’s affection for the fox fur stole is on direct display. Oh, and Zsa Zsa Gabor is wearing most of them, too.

Death of a Scoundrel – The Film

The film is about Clementi Sabourin (a very un-Falcon-like George Sanders), an all around jerk who, since this is thinly disguised 50’s morality play, gets his comeuppance. It doesn’t even pretend to hide that fact, since the film’s action is framed by his secretary/accomplice / quasi-love interest Bridget Kelly (De Carlo) recounting the tale of his life to police as he winds up dead in the first three minutes.  Along the way, Clementi meets, romances, and ruins a variety of well dressed ladies.

Death of a Scoundrel – The Furs

Clementi’s exploits in greed and eventual self destruction move quickly from the blue collar to the white collar, providing ample opportunity for the film’s costumers to break out classic 50’s stoles and wraps of all varieties. Interestingly, there’s not a single fur coat in the entire film.

The film’s furs are book-ended thanks to the framing device, which finds Bridget arriving to Clementi’s house in this mink stole.

The story of the titular scoundrel’s exploits leads to his first big stock market play, with Zsa Zsa Gabor the target. She’s starting out conservatively, in a mink wrap as she watches the stocks.

Fortunately that doesn’t last long. She’s initially successful thanks to the advice of Clementi, and brings him in, wearing the film’s first fox stole here at the office.

Zsa Zsa pops in for a phone call later, in this black of collar.

Clementi wouldn’t be much of a film worthy scoundrel if he had only one victim. No, he’s got lots of stuff in motion, including helping a nice lady with a rich husband towards a divorce. They dine together as she wears this fur stole.

Bridget plays “the other woman” in this other mink stole.

She ‘catches’ them and we get both in a wide shot briefly.

Zsa Zsa’s time in the film is pretty much over, but she goes out with what is probably the best fur in the entire film, this very thick black and white fox wrap.

It is, sadly, seen only briefly as she walks in and promptly removes it. A fine little gem, though.

Off to a new attempted conquest, Clementi attempts to “woo” the star of a play he helped produce. She arrives to the “party” in this white fox wrap.

This one is also sadly pretty quick, as it’s removed and only picked up as she exits, impervious to woo.

One to very much hold a grudge, Clementi orders her fired, in this longer scene in which Miss De Carlo is allowed a much better wrap, this one in black fox.

Another film short on close ups, this is the best we get of Yvonne and her black fox stole.

Fox stole/wrap #5 is also on Yvonne, towards the end of the film as Clementi is refused service at a restaurant pretty much for being a jerk.

It’s also brief and lacking in close ups, sadly.

We do get some nice clear shots of Yvonne De Carlo in the mink wrap in which she entered the film, as she leaves Clementi in a moralizing haze that practically stamps “MESSAGE” on her forehead as she speaks.

There’s 5 fox stoles or wraps in the film total, plus a collar and the minks, for those that appreciate that sort of thing. Certainly exemplary of the kind of fox fur you get in 50’s films in general and notable because there was so much of it. Granted, most of them deserved a lot more screen time than they received. The 50’s fascination with the fox stole seems like a hangover from the amazing creations of the 30’s.

Fur Runtime: approx 11 minutes
Film Runtime: 119 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 9%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1956 Film Death of a Scoundrel

2010/03/14

Furs on Film – Mr Dodd Takes the Air

Okay, back on point with this little entry from 1937. Nothing like the late 30’s to deliver that warm comfortable, familiar feeling, kind of like a big full length fox coat… Speaking of which…

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air – The Film

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air is the one of those stories everyone considers rather cliché now, but was slightly less so in 1937. The story of Claude Dodd, who finds fame after being discovered by a mattress mogul (this entry was worth it just to be able to write “mattress mogul”), going from those proverbial rags to subsequent riches. Dodd isn’t just a pretty voice, he’s got a knack for radio repair, and is soon targeted by a classic 30’s gold-digger who, fortunately for us, already has enough money for a closet full of furs.

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air – The Furs

Claude, whose name isn’t among the top 10 baby names of recent decades, meets three ladies in his travels to fame and fortune. Sadly for him, he settles down with the one that doesn’t wear furs.

The blonde is Jessica Stafford, played by Gertrude Michael, who is the previously mentioned gold digger on the prowl for Mr. Dodd’s invention. Obviously she’d been somewhat successful in previous gold-digging, judging by that full length fox.

Jane Wyman plays Mr. Dodd’s would-be girlfriend, Marjorie Day, and the one girl in the film who doesn’t wear fur. If you need to see Jane Wyman in fur, you can check her out in Let’s Do It Again, though, where she wears one of the biggest fox fur stoles of all time.

The “patent” sub-plot only shows up when we need some relationship tension. Dodd’s singing career is helped out by Sonia Moro (Alice Brady), from whom we learn the cliché of “opera diva” hasn’t changed much over time.

The core of the film’s fur fashions is this sequence at a party where Sonia performs in this excellent black fox trimmed bolero jacket. The collar is enormous, and frames her face perfectly as she chews up the scenery.

It would have been ideal were it not only trim, but I admit it’s my favorite kind, where it’s hard to tell there’s parts that aren’t fur. Alice does a song and has a conversation with Claude while wearing the jacket.

In the interest of full disclosure, there’s about five seconds worth of Gertrude Michael in this ermine fur jacket as she leaves the party in a huff.

Fortunately, the gold-digger returns later in something more stylish, this big silver fox cape, as she tries to split up Claude and Marjorie with accusations of… patent fraud!

Brief closeup of Gertrude in the silver fox cape.

The climax of the film finds Dodd up a tree, literally, with Sonia and Majorie racing to get him down and save their relationship. Sonia has a very interesting outfit, which is only fully apparent as she’s racing from the car, making it a little hard to get a really clean still. Her dress has 2 big fox cuffs, and she’s holding a what is, technically, a “fox trimmed” muff.

In the steadier close up shots you can see the two shades of fox mesh, as her big cuffs are squeezed up against the trim on the muff. Almost enough to make you forget about the annoying, pointless strip of sequins in the middle of the muff.

There’s a couple other “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” furs in the film on Sonia and Jessica as they’re arguing after one of Dodd’s shows. Overall a solid 11% on the ratio, due mostly to the rich, dark center of the big black fox trimmed bolero jacket in the middle.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 87 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1937 film Mr. Dodd Takes the Air.

2010/02/28

Furs on Film – Mad Dog Time

Personal challenge: post a film from the 1990s. Check. So how does one get Ellen Barkin in a couple big fox stoles in the middle of the worst fur fashion drought since, well, between the Ice Age and the early 1900’s? Apparently it requires an alternate universe… and no concept of pacing.

Mad Dog Time – The Film

Let me mention up front the general consensus seems to be that this is not a good film at all. To be frank, even on fast forward, this thing looked boring. It’s basically a series of conversations that, sometimes, end in some guy getting shot. I believe it’s supposed to be a call back to more classic gangster films, but with the bold artistic vision of nothing remotely interesting happening. Did I mention Ellen Barkin in fox stoles? Yes, let’s get to that…

Mad Dog Time – The Furs

Ellen Barkin is featured in 2 large fox stoles, one white, one black, as she plays a gun moll named Rita Everly. Fox furs and gun molls are the one classic combo the film got right.

We start with this black fox stole, probably the best for her character, though the combo with the little black dress makes the wide shots a little hard to discern.

There are better shots, fortunately, at the club where much of the action, er events, er… people talking endlessly, takes place.

I’m fond on this shot, showing Rita has the good taste to keep the stole in place at the table and not relegate to the chair back as so many have done before.

A great deal of fast forwarding later, we see Ellen in stole 2, this one white fox.

This one doesn’t interfere with the front of Rita’s dress.

I know this looks mildly interesting, but don’t be fooled. Granted, gun moll Rita is actually holding a gun while nicely showing off the white fox stole in the process.

This shot sums up the film. There was a really long conversation that ends like this. If you think action = “casually shooting from a seated position” then this was the roller-coaster ride of 1996. I’ll stick with pre-Windtalkers John Woo.

Rita makes out alive to live happy ever after with her gangster boyfriend. I guess… Honestly, I don’t care. Ellen Barkin looks wonderful in the white fox, that’s all that matters.

Hey, it’s a film from 1996 with big fox stoles in it, that’s really all that needs to be said regarding why the film is “notable.” Sure, it kinda cheated with the whole “alternate universe” thing, but lets face facts, the 90’s managed to excise fur even from period pieces. If they’d done a docudrama on the making of The Mad Miss Manton in 1996, it wouldn’t have a single guard hair in it.

Fur Runtime: approx 5 minutes
Film Runtime: 93 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 5%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1996 film Mad Dog Time.

Now for a little attempt at reader interactivity. Comment on this post with your “best” fur film from the 1990s. I’m honestly curious to know what other gems (however dull) might be hiding in that steaming pile of a decade.

2010/01/03

Furs on Film – The Mad Miss Manton

Time to kick off the New Year with something I’ll not be able to out-do: the best fur fashion film of all time: The Mad Miss Manton. I was wavering on that opinion because I hadn’t really seen it in a while, but now that I’ve dug through most every frame with a glistening guard hair in it, I feel I can safely end all doubt. It’s all here, quality, variety, and length. If there’s something better than this, well… I desperately want to see it.

The Mad Miss Manton – The Film

The Mad Miss Manton is somewhat a mix of genres, and perhaps that’s part of the magic that made it what is was. It’s one-half madcap heiress, one-half gentle(wo)man detective, multiplied by 1938, to the seventh power. Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck (I have the book) as one of Hollywood’s few alliterative miss-fires, Melsa Manton, and her flock of seven fashionable friends in a murder mystery. Mesla finds a dead body in house for sale, reports it to the police, but she and her friends’ reputation as pranksters leads the police to do nothing when they arrived to find the body missing. The ladies decide to solve the case to clear their good names, which are being splashed on the editorial page of the paper by Peter Ames (Henry Fonda).

The Mad Miss Manton – The Furs

Where to begin…? Melsa and her friends swim through an ocean of furs in the film, most all of them fox in some form or another. Mink, lynx, and even ermine are ably represented as well. The fur garments come in all forms, from full length coats, to jackets, wraps, and muffs as well. It’s a virtual catalog of glorious deco fur fashions from the late 30’s.

Enter Melsa Manton. At this point Miss Manton has found the body, been blown off by the police, and suffered a scathing editorial in the paper about her “prank” written by her opposite in this scene, Peter Ames. She arrives in the film’s first fur, a dress with silver fox cuffs, a rather conservative start.

Melsa’s girlfriends don’t all appear in furs at once. We start off with… okay, here’s the deal. Melsa has seven members of her little “posse”, and, I checked, 2 of them are never called by name. This is one of them, process of elimination indicates this is either “Lee” or “Jane.” Judging by what I could find on the net, I’m calling this Ann Evers as Lee, who starts the fox train rolling with a big black fox jacket.

She throws a white fox wrap atop Myra (Linda Perry).

This leads shortly to the girls having donned their first set of sleuthing furs. This is, left to right, Kit in a white fox jacket, Helen in a silver fox wrap, Mesla in her signature crystal fox coat, Lee in the black fox stroller, and Myra holding her white fox wrap. Five large fox coats on screen at once. I can stop here, right?

Miss Stanwyck’s crystal fox coat is notable not only because it’s the largest fox in the film and lovingly documented, but from a fashion perspective, the coat is very similar to many white fox coats of the day that I’ve documented in previous updates. The broad shoulders and lack of a collar are instantly familiar. If it where white it would be a few pelts short of Irene Dunne’s famous coat from The Awful Truth.

Less visible in the previous group shot was Dora (Catherine O’Quinn) wearing an ermine jacket. There’s actually another ermine jacket in this shot as well but Helen and Lee’s fox furs are covering up Pat’s jacket.

There’s Pat (Whitney Borune) and her ermine fur jacket as the ladies investigate the abandoned house where Melsa found the body. Pat has a bit of an eating disorder that’s handled with the utmost respect and dignity by the film… or not.

This part of the film is a bit noir-ish, with the ladies moving in darkness, catching conveniently located shafts of light as they poke around the house in their large fur coats and experience a scare or two.

Later the girls continue sleuthing to their prime suspect’s house, allowing for yet another group shot.

Mesla find’s a photo of the deceased wife there, who is also wearing fur, a silver fox collared coat that she is apparently rather fond of, as we’ll learn later. Even the still photos have fur in this movie.

They find the body of their prime suspect in the apartment, but efforts to report it to the police are in vain, since the police already don’t believe them, so they drop the body off at the newspaper, which eventually leads to their “arrest”. The ladies have changed out of their sleuthing furs in to their much more conservative “being arrested” furs.

Mesla and Helen both have full length minks, while Dora does put some effort into it with a large fox collar.

Though I’m not quite as big a fan of it as her fox, here’s a nicely framed shot of Barbara Stanwyck in mink which I’m sure will be appreciated.

Later, Melsa and Helen (Frances Mercer) engage in a little solo adventure away from the rest of the posse. Sadly Melsa’s fox is MIA, but Helen keeps things interesting with her white fox wrap.

The girls reunite further along in the film with yet another selection of furs, principally notable is Myra’s fox collar and large matching fox muff.

Dora shows up later with another fox collar.

As does Mr. Ames, who is about to subdued and restrained by Melsa and her girls, one of many times that happens in this film.

Later on the street the girls are out sleuthing again in this set, with Melsa have added a short fox jacket to her wardrobe, and Pat’s silver fox stole more visible.

Again a little later and we have… another set of furs. Here Kit lays atop a lynx jacket and Helen a large silver fox muff. Everybody keeping up? There will be a quiz later…

Pat gets a bit of a solo scene on the phone with Melsa, wearing a what I’ll assume is a black fox coat accessorized nicely with the veiled hat.

Eventually we arrive at the showcase sequence for Barbara Stanwyck and her large crystal fox fur coat, where Mr. Ames pretends to be not long for this world in an effort to get Melsa to confess an important piece of evidence.

Miss Stanwyck and the fox coat are showcased perfectly here. Melsa eventually becomes wise to ruse, eliciting an expression that does not bode well for Peter Ames…

…as she liberally applies a fork to Mr. Ames buttocks. Say what you will about the film’s place in cinema history, but it is likely the only time Henry Fonda is stabbed in the butt with a fork.

That crucial piece of evidence was the location of the original deceased’s wife, Shelia Lane (Leona Maricle), who you’ll remember from the photo earlier… especially since she seems to be wearing the same silver fox collar.

As Melsa has been causing trouble for the killer and already survived attempts on her life, a plan is hatched to draw the killer out, while this plan is hatched, Melsa brings along a large black fox muff, which, sadly, is one of the furs that is not well filmed. The black fox goes great with the outfit, but not with late 30’s camera technology.

After dinner with Ames, Melsa takes this silver fox wrap on the 30’s equivalent of a dungeon crawl, heading down into the subway as she puts some of the pieces together and looks for more evidence. This is a long sequence, and she wears the silver fox almost non-stop until the end of the film.

For what it’s worth… this guy did it:

The girls show up one last time, in yet another set of furs. Myra has a silver fox collar, Dora, an ermine muff, Helen an ermine jacket and yet more as well.

The film ends with a bit of a deus ex machina, with the killer taken out in the lobby by a police sniper and no direct intervention from Melsa, Ames or any other major character. Seems someone wrote themselves into a corner. Yeah, like I care… No one is going to remember The Mad Miss Manton as a high point in filmmaking. The film is a stunning collection of fur fashions played out en masse. Whereas most of the films from this period I profile have only one fur on screen at once, this one gives us for or five at once.

Oddly, my biggest beef with the film isn’t anything to do with the furs, it’s with Miss Manton herself, who was a bit of a victim of what seemed to be “alliteration at any cost”… Melsa? What a horrible name… Apologies to anyone named Melsa… you have my sympathies. Mary… Madeline… Meghan… Michelle… so many better options. Oh, and there were no fur hats… could have used some hats.

The onscreen ratio is nothing to sneeze at.  In fact it’s in the neighborhood of the other heavyweight champion, Forever Lulu.

Fur Runtime: approx 33 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 41%

In honor of the occasion… this gallery is much larger than usual… about 76 total, so enjoy:

Full Gallery- Fur Fashions of The Mad Miss Manton

2009/11/08

Furs in Film – The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt

While the Thin Man series of films is ripe for inclusion on this site, the genre of “gentleman detective” was certainly not the lone province of William Powell and crew. The Lone Wolf was another, this one a jewel thief named Mike Lanyard who was featured in upwards of 20 pictures, a lot more than Nick and Nora. This incarnation was portrayed by Warren William, doing a good William Powell impression, and was released in the magical year of 1939.

The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt – The Film

The Lone Wolf, debonair jewel thief, has quit his jewel thieving ways and is settling down with girlfriend Val Carson and daughter Patrica. A gang of spies looking to swipe some plans for a new piece of anti-aircraft artillery frame The Lone Wolf for a theft in order to blackmail him into helping them. With the police aware of his past and unwilling to help, The Lone Wolf takes on the spy gang with Val’s mostly unwanted assistance. Despite having Rita Hayworth on their side, The Lone Wolf foils their plans and sends them all to the slammer.

The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt – The Furs

It’s 1939 and this is a “gentleman’s detective” film, which means it’s only slightly less likely to have amazing furs than a “madcap heiress” film. It is certainly no disappointment in that regard, as we have both Ida Lupino and a very young, pre-super-stardom Rita Hayworth in large fox coats. Ida spends most of the film in one of 2 furs, while Rita similarly, is rarely out of fur herself between a full length mink and large black fox that befits her stature as main squeeze of the spy ring leader.

This is Val Carson, Mike Lanyard’s girlfriend who supplies much of the film’s comedy. Played by a barely over 20 Ida Lupino, she spends a great deal of time in this silver fox trimmed jacket. Though not visible in this shot, a silver fox muff accompanies it usually.

There’s the muff, a lovely combination with the hat and most likely a silk blouse.

And here is Karen, played by Rita Hayworth, also barely over 20 and looking very refined in this full length short-haired coat as she prepares to crash a date between Mike and Val.

Crash she does, as Miss Lupino’s expression indicates how overjoyed she is this development.

Throughout the film Ida Lupino’s expressive face is one of the highlights, and here it is surrounded by silver fox fur.

Ida and Rita are not the only ones in fur in the film. This is Helen Lynd, playing a prospective buyer for The Lone Wolf’s completely legitimate antique business, who must deal with Val Caron’s jealous streak over her boyfriend.

Really jealous… Though perhaps not obvious from the stills, the scene is rather amusing and showcases Miss Lupio’s comic chops. Unfortunately one of the few scenes in the film where she’s not wearing fur.

Somewhere around act 3, both Ida and Rita step up the fur quality, with Miss Lupino winning handily in this white fox coat.

Briefly seen holding a cigarette in this sequence, though not actually smoking, the white fox is a classic example of the period, full, but lacking any sort of collar or cuffs, cape-like.

Not to be completely outdone, Rita and the gang show up to help her show off her black fox stroller coat. No doubt it’s black because she’s the bad girl in this flick, accented by her veiled black hat over her dark brunette locks.

To drive that point home, she and Ida share the screen, good girl in white fox, bad girl in black fox, the way the universe intended it should be.

Like Ida earlier, Rita briefly holds a cigarette but never actually does much smoking.

One more shot of the 2 together briefly, because two great foxes are always better than one.

Finally, one of the best shots of Ida Lupino’s white fox coat occurs just before “THE END”, here at the police station after The Lone Wolf’s been hauled away as his chip-off-the-ole-block daughter presents the keys to his cell.

Though certainly not the only reason this film deserves mention, it is great film for those interested in “fur runtime”. Not quite a Forever Lulu, but you certainly won’t fall asleep waiting for the next fur to show up (and hang around). In honor of The Green Fairy’s suggestion, I’ll post some “box stats” for each film from now on so people know roughly how long you’ll be enjoying fur on screen in the films I post. The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt definitely clocks into the top 3 at this point.

Fur Runtime: approx 20 minutes
Film Runtime: 71 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 28%

The Fur Fashions of the The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt Full Gallery