Posts tagged ‘fur cape’

2011/09/25

Furs on Film – What a Way to Go!

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!

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

2011/05/08

Claudette Colbert in Fur – “The Gilded Lily” 1935

Claudette Colbert in 'The Gilded Lily' 1935

While Claudette Colbert is not a particular favorite of mine from the period (she’s not even my favorite Colbert), she does look rather nice in this exemplary white fox fur cape from 1935. I haven’t seen The Gilded Lily, but it is going on the “remember to record” list, that’s for sure. Sadly I don’t even remember ever seeing it in TCM’s listings lo these many years, so my hopes aren’t particularly very high in that regard. I’ll be happy enough if they get back to showing Mannequin (the 1937 version with more and better fur), Breakfast for Two, and Pittsburgh. Oh, and the cinematic tour de force that is Ice Follies of 1939.

2011/03/06

Furs on Film – Lady with a Past

This week we have an entry from 1932 that, considering the ratio it racks up, I’d have preferred it be shot in 1938. That’s a bit of a quibble, as it has some good furs, and the viewer is certainly able to take their time and enjoy them. Besides, it was either this or a 70’s Aussie exploitation film TCM probably showed by accident or something. I’ll get to that one later.

Lady with a Past – The Film

Constance Bennett stars as Venice Muir (a name someone should probably use in a future exploitation film), one of those rare non-madcap heiresses from the 30’s. Venice is not exactly “left at the altar,” but has her elopement to Paris canceled by playboy Donnie Wainwright (David Manners). As, obviously, Donnie is totally not a jerk, she cooks up a plan to follow him to Paris, make him jealous, and get him back. She is aided by Guy (Ben Lyon), an employment challenged individual who becomes her fake gigolo. Since this isn’t a 1980’s romantic comedy, she doesn’t end up with Guy; she gets her man Donnie in the end.

Lady with a Past – The Furs

Constance Bennett does most of the fur wearing in the film, and boy, is there a lot of it. She’s helped out by a couple others, but their contributions are slim compared to hers. In general the fur fashions are quite exemplary of the early 30’s, where designers were still ramping-up to the glorious excesses of the late 30’s.

We start with this red fox stole. I don’t care for the more common silver fox variant, so making a red fox version doesn’t help much. You can also note the very small fox trim on the dress of Lola Goadby (Astrid Allwyn) opposite Venice.

Speaking of which, there’s that exact silver fox stole on Ann (Merna Kennedy). She’s visible in this long sequence for only a few seconds, but those few include this reasonably good shot.

Before Donnie dumps her, Venice arrives to a party in this long, sable trimmed ermine coat. My chief problem with ermine is that it’s not fox.

Cut to Paris, where Venice meets Guy and eventually ends up hiring him. She’s hanging out in a cafe in this fox trimmed outfit.

This is one of the two furs the film allows the viewer to indulge, as the entire sequence provides almost four and half minutes to take it in. It is sprinkled with fine close shots such as this.

To the second fur we’ll be seeing a lot, the linchpin of the entire film, a short jacket with a rather agreeably large collar and cuffs. I’m going to say this is probably a dark sable, though it could be black fox.

The fur is onscreen for about 10 full minutes, and that is amazingly impressive even for this decade.

This illustrates a good rule of thumb when designing fur collars, the less you can see of the back of the wearer’s head, the better.

As it is onscreen so long, we do get a few fine close shots to study it further.

While the dark fur trimmed jacket is the film’s “big” fur, it’s hardly done. As Venice is building her rep as the most desirable woman in Paris, she’s in quite a few more furs. Can’t say this is a favorite, but I’m sure others can appreciate the short mink cape.

Later there’s a poorly filmed, sort look at this fox trimmed coat. Another reason to wish it was 1938, this would probably have been all fox.

Yet more, this blue fox trimmed top that also has some small cuffs that can be seen later.

She meets up with Lola again upon returning to New York. Lola is wearing… a fur coat. Not sure what kind of fur that is, but I can at least be sure it’s fur. Could be some form of rabbit.

Finally, the end of the film gives us this, a long black and white ermine fur coat. This is where she and Donnie finally get together.

Another one for the missed-opportunity pile, the fashioning of the coat is superb, with a high collar and full sleeves, but the use of ermine mitigates that. Even mink would have been a better choice here.

Lady with a Past clocks in at 39% on-screen fur ratio. That is almost four times the rough average of 10% I just sorta made up based on what I recall from all the previous updates. So, for over a third of the film, you’ll be seeing someone wearing a fur. I can, and have, quibbled over the kind of fur in the film, but if you’re a little less picky than me (and I sense many, many are) then this probably goes into the “must have” pile.

Fur Runtime: approx 31 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 39%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film Lady with a Past

2010/11/14

Joan Bennett – Fox Fur Cape

Joan Bennett

Originally uploaded by EmMe09

From a 1936 publicity photo. Guessing it’s blue fox, which wasn’t all too common at the time, at least as compared to white. Rather partial to both so I’m good either way.

Granted, I’m also partial to hot fuchsia dyed fox, so I probably can’t be trusted in a fashion consulting role.

2010/10/10

Furs on Film – Love Is A Headache

And we’re back.

When I find out who the “we” is in this one man operation, I’ll be sure to fire them.

We return with another of the increasingly rare gems that TCM has seen fit to dole out from that most halcyon of fur fashion years, 1938. This is nice film about a Broadway star named Charlie that had the potential to be something of an all time classic, but they botched it in the end, literally.

Love Is A Headache – The Film

Fortunately, “Charlie” is short for Carlotta, last name Lee, a star of the Broadway stage whose latest production did not fare so well. She’s getting blasted by Peter Lawrence, a newspaper columnist who is, of course, secretly in love with her and is only trying to help. Her publicist, Jimmy Slattery, decides a publicity stunt is needed, so he arranges for her to adopt a couple of kids, for which the casting call no doubt used the term “precocious.” While this doesn’t speak highly of New York City’s adoption agencies circa 1938, “Charlie” gets the kids, and winds up liking the heck out of them, while eventually getting married to Peter. You’d think this was written in Hollywood or something.

Love Is A Headache – The Furs

With one notable exception Gladys George, as “Charlie,” does all the fur wearing work in this film. Personally I’d suggest today’s ladies of Broadway could take a lesson or two from her sense of style.

First up is that exception I noted 2 sentences ago. This would be Fay Holden, playing a bit role where she visits Peter Lawrence (Franchot Tone) to get some better press in his column wearing this enormous fox fur collar. Sadly, this is the fur we see the least of in the entire film, but it is well shot for the time it does appear on screen.

Gladys, as “Charlie”, who is referred to as that throughout the film, much to everyone’s dismay- Look, you’re a girl, use a girl name. If you just dress up like girl, have a girl name. I’m looking at you, Jeffree- Ahem, rant over, back to the update. Gladys, who will be Gladys from this point forward, appears first in this silver fox cape.

Pre-adoption, Gladys is wooed by millionaire Reggie O’Dell (Ralph Morgan, who, if he looks familiar, sounds familiar, and has a familiar last name, is because he’s Frank Morgan’s brother, he’s Frank Morgan lite).

Gladys moves fluidly between the silver fox and her next fur, one I thought was just black fox, but later, in different lighting, suggests it’s something else. The top guard hairs of the fur muff that complement the large collar are just visible at the bottom.

Good close up of Gladys in her fur collar.

Here’s where the lights catch the “not-black” parts of the fur collar, also you can see a better view of the muff. It is visible in a few shots, but mostly wide ones when she’s moving around. Those make for bad stills.

Next up, white fox cape, of the sort very common to 1938, though this one is not the full ankle-length version that we’re used to. Still, a fine addition to the film’s wardrobe.

This cape and the next outfit make up the bulk of the film’s fur runtime (again, there’s another notable exception here). A worthy way to spend your fur gazing time.

Next up is the fox trimmed dress, the (best) fur that takes up the longest amount of screen time. You can see the muff/purse accessory in this shot.

As Gladys spends nearly five minutes in this outfit alone, you get a lot of nice shots of it, including closeups like this.

Also nice upper body framed shots like this one. My only quibble… needed a bigger collar, and cuffs…

So that’s the end of the film as I’d prefer to see it. If you’re interested in being picky, there’s another fur in the film, one that Gladys wears for what constitutes much of the last act. Sadly, that fur is a rather distressed looking mink, muskrat, or some equally unappealing drab brown stole with, you guessed, a bunch of little rodent heads hanging off it. Honestly, to this point the film had been destined for greatness, and then to wrap on that fur, it was a serious disappointment. So, my runtime figures don’t include it. If they did, it would be more like 20-25%. If they’d only swapped that ratty piece and the one by Fay Holden in the beginning, this film would easily be a hall of fame contender.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 73 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 16%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1938 film Love Is A Headache.

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?

2010/05/30

Furs on Film – Break of Hearts

Back to a film that can support an update all by itself. This is another early Katharine Hepburn flick. While I’m not quite so big a fan of young Hepburn as I am of young Crawford, she doesn’t do much of the heavy fur lifting in this flick anyway. To see her in better fur, for a long time, try Morning Glory instead.

Break of Hearts – The Film

It’s been a while, but we final get another film with a divorce theme. Though they never actually go through with that. Break of Hearts is about the whirlwind romance of a brilliant conductor Franz Roberti (played by Charles Boyer) and aspiring songwriter Constance Dane, played by Hepburn. She ends up Constance Dane Roberti, a great character name even without an alliterative twist. They meet, fall in love, and get married in a single afternoon, which always works out well. She learns Franz was a bit of a ladies man, and after a few misunderstandings, decides to leave him. Then the usual ensues… he spirals downward, she takes him back and they all live happily ever after in loving co-dependency.

Break of Hearts – The Furs

As I mentioned, Katharine Hepburn doesn’t wear much fur in this film, but a lot of others do. The life of a “playboy orchestra conductor” is apparently one I should investigate as this film strongly suggests it will bring one in contact with many fur wearing women.

Woman One is played by Inez Courtney, a current main squeeze of Franz before he meets Constance, seen here in a full length fur, which isn’t mink, is brown, and is included merely for the sake of a full inventory.

Like any good workout, you need to stretch first, and before Break of Hearts gives us the good stuff, we also visit Helene Millard, who establishes her gossipy character Sylvia in this mink cape-let.

Finally we arrive at the marquee fur, fittingly in a key sequence in the film. Jean Howard wears this coat/cape made of lush white fox and capped by a beautiful high collar.

Franz is completely innocently taking this old flame out to lunch after he married Constance, which I’m sure seemed like a great idea the time, especially considering what she’s wearing.

Didi and her white fox head off to the powder room before lunch beings.

Where who should she find but gossipy Sylvia in this chinchilla trimmed jacket. Who chats her up about Franz while, off in another corner sits Constance, overhearing everything. Dun-dun-DUN!


If you were thinking, “Hey, it’d be great if that chinchilla and the white fox showed up on screen together,” then give yourself a gold star and enjoy this:

Constance starts reevaluating her relationship as Sylvia and Didi look on in their furs.

Later, Anne Grey shows up in this very large silver fox collared outfit.

The collar has some extra tails hanging off but no mask/feet to mess thing up, very nice indeed. She smokes briefly in this sequence while wearing the fur.

Finally, Miss Hepburn does put in an appearance in fur, with this silver fox trimmed outfit.

While the trim along the bottom is full, it shrinks to nothing where a large collar was completely warranted. The costume designer gets a pass on this thanks to the earlier white fox, though.

That big white fox is the showstopper in the film, and it does have a decent “supporting cast” of other furs, which help it clock in at a good 8 minutes of fur footage. For a 78 minute film that’s not bad. Apparently this wasn’t a real successful film for Katharine Hepburn. I’d attribute that primarily to the decision to keep her out large fox furs for the majority of the film, though I’m sure other film historians may respectfully disagree with me on that one.

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 78 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Push the button for the Fur Fashions of the 1935 film Break of Hearts.

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.