Marilyn in the best thing you can get out of the 1950s… a large fox stole. This is from 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a film with a least one decent fox in it. I have a really old, very bad set of captures from it, stuff that I won’t post on here. For more 50s stole and wraps, check out Let’s Do It Again, Silk Stockings, and Singing in the Rain.
Back this week to fill in a bit more of that rather great-fur anemic decade, the 1960s. The 60’s still have the charm of not being the 90s, at least. This one is able to row against the prevailing fashion tide mostly thanks to the liberal use of fantasy sequence and parody of Hollywood “excess.”
What a Way to Go – The Film
In her current life, Shirley MacLaine stars as Louisa May Foster, a very rich, very unhappy woman who finds herself on a psychiatrist’s couch, retelling the various stories of how she tried to marry for love, not money. In each case, her poor, loveable husband of choice ends up striking it rich, neglecting her, and then dying, leaving her increasingly well off, but still unhappy. The film is an anthology of sorts, with Lousia’s time on the couch the framing device. As surprises no one, the process starts to repeat itself just before the credits roll.
What a Way to Go – The Furs
Shirley wears pretty much all the furs in the film. Part of the charm of the film is the framing sequences at the psychiatrist’s office all feature Miss MacLaine wearing a mink hat. The remainder all occur in the flashbacks to her various relationships, culminating in one of the best uses of dyed fox in film history.
Here’s the mink hat in question. Granted, if you’re not impressed, you’re going to be bored pretty quickly, since she never takes it off the entire time she’s “in therapy.”
Due to the length of time it appears, there are many nice close ups of Miss MacLaine capped by the mink. As should be a surprise to no regular reader, I’m not a mink fan, but I do like the hat. Sure, it should be fox, but, well, split milk and all.
More mink from Husband One’s story. This conservative mink fringe is hooded, at least.
After suffering through Husband Two with nary a fur in sight, things pick up with Husband Three. Already rich, Lousia meets Rod Anderson, equally if not more wealthy, at the airport. She’s wearing a fox hat and this fox fur trimmed coat.
This is a long sequence, as Lousia goes aboard Rod’s private jet and chats all while keeping the furs firmly in place. Sadly unlike many of the furs in the film, this is fairly conservative fox by any standards.
She flips that around in the film’s fantasy sequence, as Louisa imagines life with Rod and their money combined. In the sequence she wears a series of outfits by Edith Head, intentionally “over the top.” The first is more feathery than fur, obviously.
Things pick up a bit when the white mink trimmed outfit with the rather large muff appears.
While again, mink isn’t particularly my favorite, this is certainly of one my favorite minks.
Finally there’s the first of two dyed foxes in the film. Would have picked something other than yellow, myself (like the color of the film’s second dyed fox), but still, not too bad overall.
Each element of the fantasy sequence is fairly brief, so individual elements do not get a lot of mileage, but a whole thing is about a minute and some change.
Finally, Husband Four’s story provides the marquee fur. Lousia meets and marries Pinky Benson, a stage performer who, after they’re married, becomes an overnight Hollywood success. Pinky “embraces” his name, surrounding himself with his namesake color, and that includes Louisa’s wardrobe.
The dyed pink fox fur cape is spectacular. It’s supposed to be, and the dyed hair to match is, well, “the cherry on top” is, yes, very, very cliché, but I’m going there.
Even get a quick bonus of double fox in this part of the scene. That lynx-dyed fox isn’t exactly well shot, though.
Finally one close up of Miss MacLaine in her pink wig and huge pink fox. While the point of this was to lampoon Hollywood excess (and is the only reason it even appeared in a film shot in 1964), I would suggest to any lovely lady they can consider a cape like this for the average trip to the grocery store or cinema. Just think about it, that’s all I’m saying.
The full fur runtime of What a Way to Go! clocks in around 23 minutes. Now, all of that isn’t the large pink fox cape, sadly. Miss MacLaine wears her mink hat through pretty much all of the framing story, and while I don’t want to say that “pads” the runtime a bit, others may not be so kind. The fox hat and trim from the third story consumes the other big chunk. The best parts, her fantasy sequence and the pink fox are about four minutes combined. Still, for the 60’s, this is an amazing little gem.
Fur Runtime: 23 minutes
Film Runtime: 111 minutes
Onscreen Fur Ratio: 21%
Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1964 film What a Way to Go!
Back this week with an actual update, one I’ve been sitting on for a while now. Another entry from the early 30’s, this one pulls out the big gun right up front, but doesn’t completely fizzle later. It also boasts two prominent female roles where one is not objectionable to look at. That’s a sad rarity for films from this period.
This is the Night – The Film
I’ve read two different summaries of the plot of this film and am still not entirely sure how all the characters fit together. One thing is certain, there’s marriages, both legitimate and sham, and cheating on said marriages. There’s a lady pretending to be an actress playing someone’s fake wife, and a man named Bunny. That later fact does not make reading plot summaries any easier. Because, seriously, there’s only one reason someone with a Y chromosome should legitimately be called Bunny, and it’s generally only a temporary state, and he better be good at it.
The is the Night – The Furs
Okay, so our designed fur-wearers in this complex little relationship comedy may at least be named. They are Thelma Todd as “Claire” and Lily Damita as “Germaine.” Lily is memorable from one of the other 3 films she appeared in during 1932: The Match King. She does not fare as well in this film, though.
As alluded to in the opening, This is the Night hits the ground running with one very short exception. This very quick shot happens just before the arrival of Claire, part of a set of shots that build to her appearance.
Appear, Claire does, stepping from the limo in this marvelous white fox trimmed coat.
The coat’s collar and cuffs are the appropriate size, namely the sort that makes it hard to tell there’s parts that aren’t fur.
In the opener, Thelma Todd’s character suffers the 1932 version of the “wardrobe malfunction,” where she looses her skirt before the crowd that gathered to watch her arrival. The results were a little more demure, as one might expect from the period. She lost a skirt but still had a slip. For those wondering, seeing a ladies slip at that time was rather “scandalous”. What can I say… they didn’t have the Internet then.
Fortunately for us, that means an extended limo ride back home where Claire chats with… Bunny. Yep, the thing on the left, that’s “Bunny.”
The combination of the arrival and the return provide three and a half mintues to enjoy this lovely white fox trimmed coat.
Say what you will about spread of modern 3D films (fine by me), back in 1932, single color sequences were the super high tech gimmick of the day. We do get a brief look at the white fox as more white than super light blue as Claire returns home.
The white fox is the best thing in the film, but not the only thing. Later Thelma Todd appears in more fur trim. This time it appears to be lynx.
The wider shot gives us a better idea of the extent of the trim.
I’m more partial to this close-up, of course.
As you can see, Lily Damita shares some fur in this scene, sadly one that pales in comparison to Themla’s lynx fur trim.
Lily doesn’t fare much better later, as my old nemesis returns: ugly-silver-fox-stole-with-bits-still-attached. It’s the poison pill of 30’s fur fashion.
Finally, near the end, Lily finally gets a nice looking fur, sadly all she does his hold it over her forearm.
As you may hopefully infer, that is a large fox collar, and it’s part of a cape or coat that Lily mostly keeps firmly folded over her arm for the entire scene.
One, admittedly enjoyable, exception is near the end of the scene where she’s hugging it to her body, making for this oddly compelling close-up shot.
Honestly, you can probably give up after the white fox goes away, but the remainder of the film isn’t a complete wasteland. Unlike The Awful Truth, there’s more fur here, and substantial fur in a couple cases. Granted, Irene Dunne’s white fox coat could easily carry the entire film. Themla Todd’s white fox fur trim, though very nice, can’t. I would have liked to have gotten one nice close-up shot of Miss Todd’s face wreathed in white fox, but that’s the one fur the director of photography chose not to display in close up.
Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%
Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film This is the Night
Large fox hats are difficult to find, so surprising this one reports in from 1968. It sits rather perfectly upon the head of Swedish actress Anita Ekberg. The Flickr description says it’s from a postcard, though the postcard could be from a film. Feel free to weigh in via the comments if that’s the case. The pose seems rather “theatrical,” so to speak.
Well, I was going to post this last week, but it kind of sucks to roll out of bed and suddenly discover the workflow you’ve used for three years now suddenly fails. Ah, codec drama! I have no idea what screwed it up, and the prospect of figuring it out is daunting, so I did a lazy workaround that involves moving mountains of data on an external hard drive, and… What, you don’t care? Right, right…
Then how ’bout one of the single biggest fox collars committed to the screen?
Rockabye – The Film
This early 30’s Constance Bennett flick, she plays Judy Carroll, a Broadway actress who testifies for her former boyfriend, an embezzler. While I’m not sure about the particular legal statute involved here (probably because they made it up), doing so ends up costing her custody of an orphan she had planed to adopt. She drowns her sorrows with a trip to Europe with, (le sigh) her old, rotund, alcoholic mother, and meets a playwright with an eerily autobiographical play called, wait for it: Rockabye. Judy theoretically falls in love with him and wants to take the play back to Broadway, but, in a twist that may not have been quite so cliché in 1932, ends up with her loving manager instead.
Rockabye – The Furs
As famous Broadway actress Judy Caroll, Constance Bennett does most of the fur wearing, and almost all of the fur wearing you’d particularly want to see. For the sake of accuracy, if not the level of bile in my stomach, I should mention Judy’s mother also wears fur. She’s played Jobyna Howland, a woman every bit as young, thin, and attractive as Marie Dressler. Okay, that’s a little unfair to Jobyna, she’s maybe 2% more attractive.
How do you get your dirty, embezzling, ex-boyfriend acquitted? You go to court and testify in this:
He’d be in the clear if I was on the jury.
Anyone who dated a woman with this kind of fashion sense is a-okay in my book.
Not sure how else to put this, but: I really, really like this collar.
I realize this isn’t exactly the insightful level of commentary you’ve come to expect from me, but, honestly, I’m a little distracted.
Now, the collar is pretty much grade-A, but let’s not forget what’s been in her lap the whole time. As she leaves the stand, she helpfully hefts that big barrel muff so we get good look at it.
The cherry on top of this is that not only is the quality amazing, but it’s not merely a fleeting glance. The courtroom sequence provides over 3 minutes of footage alone.
It’s followed by about 2 more, most with this shot as she’s riding home from the courtroom. Now, if I were to find fault with any of this, it’s that she spends the entire time in the backseat doing absolutely nothing with that cigarette holder in her hand.
She returns home where we meet her soon to be ex-orphan for a little heart-string tugging. This shot illustrates a point I made in an earlier update. The better the collar, the less of the head you can see from the back (or the side, for that matter).
There’s other fur in the film? Oh, right, yes, there is. Not that I think it matters at this point. There’s this probably mink item that I’ll call a wrap since “bib,” while seemingly more accurate, doesn’t sound all that fashionable.
For a film that starts out so spectacularly, it briefly descends into the depths of mediocrity with Constance Bennett in this most basic of full length mink coats. This fur is given all the screen time it deserves, which is: not much at all.
Finally, in what would have been a fur with a pretty decent collar in any other film but just ends up being an afterthought here, we see Virginia Hammond in this silver fox trimmed wrap.
It is a very nice, full-body trim, one that I might ordinarily lavish a bit more attention upon, but, really, you can just scroll up and call it even.
While the full Fur Ratio is 19%, and that’s pretty darn impressive, the only fur that really matters is actually on screen for a total of five and a half minutes. That makes the “Awesome Fur Ratio” about 6%, but that’s still not shabby. That five and a half minutes is filled with closeups that lavish the appropriate amount of attention on Constance and that amazing outfit.
Fur Runtime: approx 14 minutes
Film Runtime: 75 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 19%
Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film Rockabye
1931’s Inspiration featured Miss Garbo in a coat with a fox collar that was almost worthy of her transcendent beauty. Here’s a couple publicity shots on Flickr with her wearing it:
I have a couple older shots of it in the Garbo in Furs Gallery that give you a better idea how big it is.
Originally uploaded by shanghai ІiІy
Can’t pass this up, the reasons for which should be fairly obvious if you’ve been paying attention so far. Bonus gloves for those that fancy those.
I’d say a matching fox hat of at least twelve inches in height was in order to provide an appropriate symmetry.
Pursuant to a previous comment, I decided I’d actually look for the lovely Miss Wong in fur instead of simply crossing my fingers and hoping something would show up on TCM. That’s not been working out well lately, after all. So via Flickr, here’s a minor selection of Miss Wong in some decent furs:
Trying something new this weekend. There’s some amazing furs in a lot films, particularly from the 1930’s, but squeezing an entire update out of just one really nice fur in a single film can be tricky… unless you’re The Awful Truth. Since many films don’t quite warrant the full treatment yet shouldn’t be overlooked entirely, I’m going to combine a group of of them into a single update.
So I present the first: “Thirties 3 Pack.” Which is a dumb name, so if anyone has a better suggestion, feel free to drop them into the comments.
The Law in Her Hands – 1936
The story of Mary Wentworth, who goes from waitress to lawyer and gets mixed up with the mob. How do you celebrate your new mob lawyer salary? Big white fox fur wrap, that’s how.
Mary is played by Margaret Lindsay, seen here a scene where the bloom falls off the whole mob lawyer rose. Never saw that plot twist coming…
Someone more skilled in the technicality of fashion may be better qualified to say where the sheer size of this wrap translated into full “cape” status.
The fur is well filmed, providing both wide and a couple closer shots that show Miss Lindsay surrounded by white fox.
The Bride Wore Red – 1937
I made my feelings on Joan Crawford clear with the They All Kissed the Bride update, but allow me to reiterate: 30’s Joan Crawford is an amazingly beautiful woman, and this sequence from The Bride Wore Red is one of my all time favorites thanks to the perfectly framed close ups.
Miss Crawford plays Anni, a chorus girl who ends up warmly dressed on her way to an upscale resort in the Alps as the result of a lark by her boss. She meets the humble postal clerk that services the resort and totally doesn’t end up falling in love with him.
Oh, wait, yes, yes, she does. I really don’t care about the plot of this film, just looking at Joan in this enormous fox fur collar. Honestly, one might guess it’s “red” fox, but I doubt that… color pattern is wrong.
This shot alone is worth everything. It perfectly frames Joan Crawford’s face and the collar, just low enough to catch all the fur but not so far as to reveal the remainder of the coat isn’t fur.
Those unable to concentrate quite so exclusively on collars can check out the They All Kissed the Bride update for Miss Crawford in a very large full length fox coat.
The Match King – 1932
Sometimes the best are the hardest to categorize. This outfit from the last reel of The Match King is shown head-to-toe just as it enters, allowing us to fully appreciate the work of the costume designer.
Lily Damita plays Marta Molnar, an infatuation of the titular Match King, who is dropping by to tell him that whole “liking her” thing isn’t going to work out.
She can dump me any time wearing this outfit. Like all the furs covered in this update, this sequence is marvelously well filmed, providing a variety of close shots.
The size of the collar is clearly on display here as we’re treated to a shot of this massive fur collar that drapes her shoulders.
A last closeup of Miss Damita and this fox fur collar. The Match King takes the break up pretty hard, and I can’t blame him.
No “Fur Runtime” stats for these, as they would be rather unimpressive. Each is pretty much the only fur of any note (or at all) in their respective films. That’s the point of this update, and perhaps future updates of the same sort, to give these “One Fur Wonders” a chance to shine. Next time maybe I’ll find a group of films that don’t start with “The” either.
Does this update agree with you, dear readers, or would you prefer to see single film updates? Comments on this topic are welcome.
Each film has a separate gallery: