Posts tagged ‘fur cuffs’

2010/08/29

Furs on Film – Dance, Girl, Dance

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

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Film

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

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Furs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both together, you say? Sure!

Even better than that last one? Sure!

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

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

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

2010/08/15

Furs on Film – The Thin Man Films

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

The Thin Man – 1934

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the Thin Man – 1936

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Thin Man – 1939

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow of the Thin Man – 1941

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

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

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

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

I like this pose, that is all.

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

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

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

The Thin Man Goes Home – 1945

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

Song of the Thin Man – 1947

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

Here it is:

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

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

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

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

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of The Thin Man Films.

2010/08/08

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?

2010/07/18

Stanwyck In Fur – The Minor Films

A change of pace this week with a long overdue update to the Fur Stars gallery, focusing on the third leg of the 30’s triumvirate of most-famous fur wearers: Barbara Stanwyck. One could easily focus on Dietrich, Garbo, and Stanwyck alone and cover some of the decade’s most fur rich films.

Instead of rehashing the ground covered so far in terms of Stanwyck’s more well known films, I put together a set that focuses on her “minor” roles, at least in terms of how much fur appears in the films in question. Most of these hail from the early 30’s, where Hollywood hadn’t quite reached the pinnacle of extravagance in fur fashion that would lead to films like Stanwyck’s own The Mad Miss Manton, but the seeds were quite clearly on display.

Ladies of Leisure – 1930

We start with one more notable for a co-star’s fur than her own, the 1930 effort Ladies of Leisure, where Barbara stars as Kay Arnold, a “lady of leisure,” who gets mixed up in a romance with an earnest young painter who apparently has issues finding legitimate figure models for his work.

Here Barbara wears a very short hair fur while Marie Prevost’s big white fox trim outshines it entirely.

In fact, we’ll divert from course long enough to present Marie’s white fox trim in full.

Back on point, we find Barbara contemplating her relationship issues in… well, I’m honestly not sure what this is, and it may not even be fur, but here it is, debate amongst yourselves.

Illicit – 1931

A film in which Barbara plays a woman who doesn’t believe in marriage and is “living in sin” with her boyfriend until social pressure forces them to marry. It’s 1931, go with it… Oddly the IMDb’s cover for the film shows Miss Stanwyck wearing a rather nice white fox trimmed cape, but unless I blacked out while watching, she never actually wears it in the film.

The closest we get is another actress in this white fox trimmed ermine cloak, opposite Miss Stanwyck, who again is upstaged by someone-else’s fur.

She does wear better fur in this film, this chinchilla trimmed ermine cape. I say ‘better’ in a very relative sense of course. All chinchilla would have been a far better choice. Fortunately the early 30’s flirtation with ermine didn’t last very long.

Ten Cents A Dance – 1931

Playing yet another woman with some negotiable if not necessarily easy virtue, Barbara Stanwyck stars as Barbara O’Neill, a dance hall girl who romances the rich patrons while really in love with a far more sympathetic character.

If movies can teach young women anything, it’s that you don’t romance the rich without getting some furs out of it, at least if you’re living in the 1930’s. (Disclaimer: May want to adjust those expectations should you not be living in the 1930s.) Here the fur is a black fox trimmed affair, not particularly compelling, but somewhat agreeable.

Night Nurse – 1931

Paying attention? They cranked ’em out fast back then. In our final 1931 entry, Barbara stars as Lora Hart, a… night nurse. It must have been simpler back then, you could just give something the most obvious name possible and go with it. Here Stanwyck is opposite a pre-fame Clark Gable trying to prevent a couple kids from being starved to death.

This is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fur, and a very old cap, as the quality will suggest. But the private night nurse gig apparently pays well enough for a decent fox collar on her coat.

Forbidden – 1932

Miss Stanwyck plays a slightly more respectable librarian named Lulu here, which would make her “Lulu the Librarian.” Lulu the Librarian falls in love with Bob the District Attorney Who Is Already Married and thus we arrive at the title of the film.

Lulu meets Bob on a cruise to Havana where she’s spent her last dime at galmming up a bit, this includes a very large, full fox collared coat. Lulu’s fashion sense is unquestionable.

Sadly it’s the only fur in the film, but it is lavishly photographed, and we are provided with numerous closeups of Miss Stanwyck’s face framed by the thick white fox fur.

Shopworn – 1932

The second 1932 film, Shopworn, is a completely different film from Forbidden but it seems the wardrobe department didn’t get the memo and simply gave her the same white fox collared coat as she wore in Forbidden.

Not that I mind, it’s a very nice white fox collar, though in this film it’s appearance is rather brief and not well filmed at all.

Ladies They Talk About – 1935

This is one that almost made it to individual induction status. It’s got 2 long sequences with fox furs and one little bit in the middle. In it, Stanwyck is in classic bad girl form as Nan Taylor, who starts off in a gang of bank robbers. She ends up going to prison thanks in part to a Pastor Foster who remembers her from their childhood and is trying to help her. Once she is released, she sets about getting revenge on the Pastor.

Nan robs banks in style, wearing this thick red fox trimmed dress.

Wondering how all that stuff about the studio’s enforcing a “look” on their stars squares with a platinum blonde Barbara Stanwyck in 1935? It’s a wig, that’s how.

Nan exits prison in style as well, already wrapped up in a fox stole.

Nan sets out to even the score with the pastor in this rather pedestrian silver fox stole; one in the style that I’ve always disliked. It’s filmed well enough, though, and we get some wonderful close ups of Stanwyck wearing expressions that would melt glaciers.

This is how you express “I am going to violently murder you” without a single word:

Golden Boy – 1939

Not every late 30’s film was as leaden with epic fox coats as I would like. Here we find Barbara playing Lorna Moon, who is the kind-of-a-hooker with a heart-of-gold to young boxer Joe Bonaparte, played by William Holden in his first major film role.

Boxing films always seem to work in some shot of a woman in furs, not sure why that is, but it happens, a lot. They don’t work in a lot of fur, though, and this is the perfect example, where Lorna ends up in a fox fur collared coat towards the end. At this point she’s discovered her heart-of-gold-ness.

Extra shot, because it’s a nice collar and there are good close ups that make fine use of Barbara’s face framed by it.

Titanic – 1953

There’s a ship, it hits an iceberg, it sinks. Questions?

On-board the ship, embroiled in Family Drama (with a capital ‘F’ and ‘D’), is Barbara Stanwyck. She plays Julia Sturges, a woman at odds with her husband over many things, mainly the course their son will take in life. While this issue will eventually be rendered moot via iceberg, she wears this white fox trimmed coat for quite a bit while arguing about it.

The white fox collar and cuffs are oddly out of place both in the 1950’s and, I’d guess, in 1912 when the event actually happened. Another one of those happy continuity errors that I love.

And the Rest…

Obviously these films do not represent Miss Stanwyck’s finest fur fashions on film. For those check out the individual inductions of the following:

Eventually TCM will show Breakfast for Two again, and that one will receive the attention it so richly deserves.

Full Gallery : Barbara Stanwyck in Fur – The Minor Films

2010/07/04

Furs on Film – Success at Any Price

Let’s stay in the year 1934, and stick with high handed melodrama, while we’re at it. Success at Any Price illustrates a point that I’d illustrate with Shanghai Express if TCM would just show it again… that even fur I’m not a huge fan of can be put to great use.

Success at Any Price – The Film

So, we have a character that ruthlessly works their up the corporate ladder, ruining lives along the way only to suffer an final comeuppance in the end yet narrowly escape so that a happy ending can be realized. I liked this character more when it was girl played by Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face. Here’s it’s some guy named Joe played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who ends up looking very Clark Gable-y throughout the film. Thankfully for all involved, Douglas isn’t the one wearing the furs this time around; that’s handled by the object of his desire: his boss’s mistress. Whom, I should point out, he eventually marries and then… divorces.

Success at Any Price – The Furs

Genevieve Tobin plays Agnes Carter, the mistress of a rich man and then wife of another rich man, with a wardrobe that reflects both. She wears most of the film’s furs, though there is another that appears in furs not quite worthy of a rich mistress.

Agnes appears early in the film with Raymond Merrit, the “master” in her mistress relationship, played by Frank Morgan, who’s in his smarmy-executive mode for this one.

Here we have Colleen More, the “true love” of the piece, in this small fur collar that you’re probably wondering why I included at all.

Because it briefly appears opposite this, the marquee fur of the film, a coat with an enormous sable fur collar and cuffs.

Though I generally find sable to be in the same rather drab class as mink, a “brown paper bag” fur, so to speak, this is a marvelous use of it.

As alluded to to the opening, it reminds me of Dietrich’s fur trimmed coat from the train sequence in Shanghai Express, right down to the pose she strikes wearing it.

While the cinematography isn’t quite the equal of the pitch perfect frames (very appropriately) lavished on Marlene Dietrich, the sequence frames Genevieve Tobin from the waist up and keeps the large collar well in view much of the time. Sadly they did feel the need to cut to shots of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. throughout.

This is Joe and Agnes’ first meeting, where he falls a bit in lust (why is that, Joe?) and decides to poach her from the boss. The end of the scene shows Agnes lightly brushing the oversized sable collar and suggesting he can’t have her, a beautifully subtle use of the fur’s sensuality.

Joe does get her, and once he’s rich, he keeps Agnes in the furs to which she had become accustomed, including this red fox fur collar / cuff combination.

A wrap or jacket you say? Not really, the arms come off and leave only the collar attached to the dress.

In another callback to the last update, this film features a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” fox too; this silver fox wrap that Agnes wears as she returns home and then immediately removes. Sad, looked to be quite nice.

Agnes makes the final split with Joe in this short haired fur coat that’s not mink and I’m not sure I really care what it is, but obligatory inclusion is obligatory. He fell in love with the sable and divorced this… can’t say I blame him.

Talk about obligatory… Colleen Moore appears at the end in this dreadful fur trimmed coat as she talks Joe down from suicide. Again Joe, I wouldn’ta blamed you…

The sable is the showpiece here, and though not quite up to the standards of Shanghai Express, it is an amazing fur and is well filmed with 3+ minutes of screen time. Goes to show that if you’re going to with something like a sable, go big or go home. The additional red fox is a solid “value add” to the film in both quality and runtime, adding a good 4 minutes to the total, bringing the ratio to a rare 20%. The remainder are what they are, as I sometimes remind myself that some people actually find drab, conservative short haired furs quite fashionable. Hopefully there’s a pill for that someday…

Fur Runtime: approx 15 minutes
Film Runtime: 74 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 20%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1934 film Success at Any Price.

2010/06/27

Furs on Film – Manhattan Melodrama

Words evolve, and to a certain extent the term “melodrama” no longer carries with it a particularly positive connotation. Certainly when used in the sentence “don’t be so melodramatic” or in connection with any original movie from Lifetime. It probably wasn’t so big a deal back in 1934 when it was slapped on a low budget crime film that ended up being one of Clark Gable’s stepping stones to super-stardom. Oh, and it was the last flick John Dillinger ever caught.

Manhattan Melodrama – The Film

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Two childhood friends grow up on opposite sides of the law and end up competing for the same girl. You probably should have stopped me by now. I suppose this was slightly less of a cliché in 1934, though I’m not even sure about that. Jim Wade and Blackie Gallagher are the childhood friends, and thanks to an extremely subtle naming technique, you’ve pretty much figured out that “Blackie” is the bad one. Jim’s the DA going after Blackie, and Blackie’s girlfriend Eleanor is the girl in the middle. As with all these films the moral of the story is that you’ll be electrocuted by the state if you grow up on the wrong side of the law from your childhood friend.

Manhattan Melodrama – The Furs

Eleanor is played by Myrna Loy, who is certainly no stranger to large swaths of fox fur in the 1930’s. In the rather standard role as gangster girlfriend, she adds three more to her career highlight reel.

We start out with the film’s anchor, this full silver fox fur collar that remains on Eleanor as she spends the evening with Jim (William Powell) and then Blackie (Clark Gable).

Since the majority of the time Myrna Loy is shot from the waist and usually the chest up, the big collar fills the screen.

And time you will have, as this series of sequences fills out a good 8 minutes of celluloid glory, and that’s minus the bits where they cut away to Powell and Gable.

So you get a full set of views, including this very nicely famed shot just as she departs Blackie’s pad, taking the fur with her.

Later we see one of the two other fox furs in which Myrna Loy appears, all opposite William Powell. Those kids have chemistry, they should probably star in a long running series of gentlemen detective films together…

I’m going out a limb and calling this red fox, though obviously the color can be left to the imagination. The cuffs seems to particularly suggest it. Also notable, though not particularly visible in the stills is that Myrna Loy is holding a lit cigarette for this brief meeting.

Here is the “blink and you’ll miss it” fur of the film. This white fox jacket (I think) appears for about five seconds in a sequence where Blakie is “helping” Jim’s gubernatorial aspirations by committing murder. Disappointing as it appears to be a rather nice white fox fur.

Due to some eventual fallout from that murder thing, Jim’s term as governor is a tad short, as he resigns after winning. Eleanor is there to provide moral support as he departs. She wearing a big blue fox fur collar and shot in a lovely closeup.

The size is even more apparent at this angle, where you can see how tall it is, a beautiful fur that’s simply demands closeups.

Manhattan Melodrama is a nice showcase of 1930’s fox fur collars, covering silver, red, and ending on the best… blue. The runtime stacks up at an average 10%, which is about where most of these films end up. Much of it contained in the early sequence with the silver fox collar, so don’t expect quite so much of the other two, nor, of course, that white fox jacket.

Fur Runtime: approx 9 minutes
Film Runtime: 93 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Here is the full gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama.

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.

2009/11/01

Furs in Film – Born Reckless

There were a lot of movies made in the 30’s. A lot them turn up on Turner Classic Movies, and even Fox Movie Channel from time to time, but by and large they all pull from the same pool of films with “name” actors and directors of the day. There are a bunch that never got “names” and probably languish in a vault somewhere, probably decaying beyond repair. There’s probably hours of spectacular classic Hollywood fur fashion footage that will never be seen again. No, as much as it sounds like it, this isn’t a pitch for you to donate to a film preservation society (though you could, I wouldn’t stop you), this is an intro to the 1937 film, Born Reckless.

Born Reckless – The Film

There’s pretty much no one on the roster of Born Reckless whose name is remotely familiar to me. Somehow it ended up on Fox Movie Channel, though. It’s the story of a former race car driver who joins up with a cab company run by Sybil Roberts (Rochelle Hudson), who is being muscled for protection by racketeers who want to take over all the town’s cab companies by taking out their cabs with armored cars. Hey, that’s how I’d do it…

Born Reckless – The Furs

For what is essentially a “B” movie of the period, they did not skimp on the costume budget. Sybil Roberts, the owner of the cab company, is apparently doing quite well for herself despite her problems with the mob. She’s not the only one, though. A variety of very nice fox coats abound in this obscure little film.

As we open, these two ladies are rooting for ace race car driver Bob “Hurry” Kane (Brian Donlevy), to win his race.

In coats outfitted with sumptuous fox collars, you won’t expect them to be the “gold digger” type. That’s what I love about 30’s films, even the girls out to get rich were still draped in huge fox furs.

Bob Kane won the race, but ended up squandering his dough on those two pictured above. In a poorly montaged sequence, he even bought them more furs. Out the racing business and in need of cash, he literally “runs into” Sybil Roberts and her cab on the street.

Bob loads her unconscious driver into the cab and takes her where she needs to go, impressing her with his “taxi cab driving” skills. As Sybil, Rochelle Hudson gets the most furs in the film, starting with this fur trimmed jacket.

She’s not the only one, though. In a much smaller part in this already small film, Pauline Moore plays the girlfriend of one of Bob Kane’s partners who also joins up with the cab company. She appears in this thickly collared coat as well.

Very briefly, Sybil looks on in this silver fox coat, which may or may not be only a collar, as this is the only shot of it. Poorly framed, the edge of the window hides the cigarette in her gloved hand, though in the film you will see the smoke play across her face as she watches.

We arrive at the film’s marquee fur, a white fox stroller length cape. Rochelle Hudson wears this beauty well, as it plays off nicely with her brunette hair.

Thankfully she doesn’t just remain in the car with it this time.

Making up in some small part for the bad angle on the silver fox earlier, we see the white fox cape from front and back.

All this is happening while Bob Kane is turning the racketeers own armored car against them. Even with a mini destruction derby occurring, I’d still find Miss Hudson and her cape a far more interesting sight.

Finally, in another very brief appearance, Pauline Moore appears in this fox trimmed coat for another few seconds. Not exactly “blink or you’ll miss it”, but not around for very long at all.

Outside of the big white fox cape, there is a lot of very full collars in this film. Sure, it would have been preferable if they were more than just collars, but finding this much fur in such an obscure little film is reason enough to love it, and they’re mostly shot in such a way that the remainder of the coat is a mere afterthought. Just makes me think there’s a whole lot of other hidden gems out there that will never see the light of day.

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of 1937’s Born Reckless.

2009/10/09

Single Pic – Unique White Fox Trim

This is some enterprising use of white fox trim. I’m a big fan of big fur cuffs, and this is an interesting place to find them:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/9329626@N05/3993712842/

Seems like a vintage shot, though I don’t know who, if anyone, it is.

2008/12/12

Furs in Film – Tin Pan Alley

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

Tin Pan Alley – The Film

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

Tin Pan Alley- The Furs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full Tin Pan Alley Fur Gallery.