Posts tagged ‘fur muff’

2010/06/13

Furs on Film – Remember

It’s divorce, 1930’s style again. What more do I need to say?

Remember – The Film

Not only is this another in an apparently long line of divorce-themed fur fashion classics from the 1930’s, this one has a bonus of including an amnesia potion as a legitimate, no-fooling part of the plot. It stars the less-than-romantically-named Greer Garson as Linda Bronson, and Robert Taylor as Jeff Holland, who meet, fall in love, wed, and, yes, divorce, in short order. Linda was originally in smit with Jeff’s buddy Sky (Lew Ayers) before Jeff totally violated the wing-man code and scooped her up. Sky’s company happens to have conveniently developed an amnesia drug, and he administers it to both parties in hopes that Linda will fall in love with him again, only it ends up that Jeff and Linda meet, fall in love, and… don’t divorce.

Remember – The Furs

Greer Garson’s Linda is woman from a wealthy family, and her wardrobe shows it. Since no summaries really toss around the “h” word (heiress) I won’t use it, but it seems like she fits the bill.

We start our little love triangle with Linda in this large silver fox muff as she encounters Jeff and Sky together for the first time.

Like the later fur in this film, the muff is provided ample screen time.

Not the largest ever seen, but it’s long, full and is not marred by any obnoxious silver broaches, which spring to mind for a reason.

Hey, what’s Linda holding onto in this screen prior to her scheduled departure on the the newlywed’s honeymoon? Sure hope she actually puts that on…

Sometimes dreams do come true as Miss Garson is neatly folded into this lavish white fox beauty just seconds later.

She and her new husband are set to leave on their honeymoon, but he is called away by his work, thus straining their relationship a bit.

My earlier mention of ugly, over-sized silver broaches wasn’t just a call out to the absolute worst one of all time (which I will always take a moment to complain about). Though slightly less intrusive, the costume designer should have reconsidered marring the fluid white lines of this beautiful coat.

Sadly, of the films furs, this one is given the least amount of screen time, an error of far more significance than the broach.

Later, after all the shenanigans with amnesia potions have set a similar chain of events in motion, Linda spends much of the last part of the film in this lynx jacket, or perhaps stroller length coat would be more accurate.

Not bad, it’s a little thin for my tastes.

Still, at the very end of the film, there’s an enjoyable moment when Greer Garson delivers some news to Jeff about her reproductive status in which she coquettishly plays with collar of the lynx fur while in close up.

Overall a fine effort that is flawed in its choice of which fur to feature. If only the dock sequence had the lynx and the end sequences featured the fox, it would certainly be one for the ages. As it stands, it’s still pretty memorable effort, especially for lynx fans, who will certainly enjoy 4+ minutes they get to watch Greer Grarson wearing it at the end. Of course, another entry on the long, distinguished divorce list, as well. Also one on the shorter list of “single actress in fur” films, where all the furs are worn by the same character.

Fur Runtime: approx 9 minutes
Film Runtime: 82 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

Here is the full gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1939 film Remember.

2010/05/23

Furs on Film – Three From the Thirties

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:

Fur Fashions of the 1932 film The Match King.

Fur Fashions of the 1936 film The Law in Her Hands.

Fur Fashions of the 1937 film The Bride Wore Red.

2010/05/09

Furs on Film – The Great Race

I’m posting a film from 1965… about events in 1908. This will join previous time shifting entries like City Heat and the Dr. Phibes films. Still, it’s a film from 1965, and it will neatly fill the gap the in the decade list. Besides, The Great Race has Natalie Wood in 3 different fox furs in the space of about 10 minutes. That’s notable enough for me.

The Great Race – The Film

The Great Race is a broad, slapstick comedy from Blake Edwards based on the 1908 New York to Paris auto race. Tony Curits and Jack Lemmon star as rival daredevils, Curtis playing “The Great Leslie”, and Lemmon as “Professor Fate.” Along for the ride is Natalie Wood as Maggie DuBois, as a young photojournalist who starts in her own car but ends up hitching a ride with both Leslie and Fate at different points in the race. The last act of the film detours through The Prisoner of Zenda for no apparent reason, and even though critics hated it, it was one of the top films of 1965. Yep, they had that in the 60’s, too.

The Great Race – The Furs

I generally avoid early century period pieces because they’ve got a lot in common with the decade from which this film originates, at least in terms of their lack of interesting fur fashion. So my hunch is that the film’s costume designers took some liberties with the historical accuracy of the outfits that Maggie DuBois wears as the race passes through Alaska on their way to Russia. These are my favorite kind of liberties.

At this point in the race Maggie is in The Great Leslie’s car. They’ve entered Alaska, and being a slapstick comedy from the 60’s, Alaska is a barren, arctic wasteland. (You may feel free to insert your own joke about modern Alaska here.) Maggie is, suffice to say… well prepared:

This is outfit #1, a red fox trimmed parka and matching red fox trimmed gloves.

Moments later, we bounce from one end of the primary color spectrum to another, with equally enjoyable results. Outfit #2 is trimmed with silver fox, including what is either a large collar or a stole wrapped around her shoulders.

A later wide shot demonstrates it is probably large collar, as the hood and the collar wreath every part of Natalie Wood above her chest in silver fox fur.

Having floated across presumably the Bering Strait to Russia, Maggie appears in outfit #3, this one trimmed in blue fox. It’s like a trip across the fox rainbow with the best tour guide ever.

One of the few good close ups of Natalie Wood in this entire section of the film. While I’m a fan of letterbox presentation for viewing films in general, having seen this particular one in pan-and-scan long ago, I remember it did have the bonus of providing “close ups” of her more often. On the other hand… it also, unforgivably, cut to close-ups of Tony Curtis, too.

A final wide shot that allows the best view of the blue fox hat/collar/muff combo that is outfit #3.

She will soon be driven off by Professor Fate and show up in one final fur, a dark fur in a short night sequence that is sadly not well shot (for the fur, at least). Natalia Zacharenko did get to practice her Russian however briefly in that scene.

This one isn’t for anyone looking for staying power. The film itself is over a deuce-and-a-half, and this is one small part of it. Still, I really like Natalie Wood and I really like fox fur, so what’s not love about stuffing her into 3+ different fox furs over the course of a single sequence. Beyond the fur content, The Great Race is good comedy, too, one of the few films I’ve reviewed that I’ve actually “seen”, which is to say, not fast forwarded through only looking for furs.

Fur Runtime: approx 4 minutes
Film Runtime: 160 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 2%

Push the button for the Fur Fashions of the 1965 film The Great Race.

2010/04/25

Furs on Film – Times Square Lady

If you were paying attention to the last update, this one shouldn’t be a surprise. Or maybe it should be, since I actually “found the time” to do it. We return to the warm, thick fox blanket that is the 1930’s with Times Square Lady, a 1935 film staring Virginia Bruce.

Times Square Lady – The Film

Time Square Lady is the story of a Toni Bradley (Virginia Bruce), a 22 year old woman from Iowa, future home of James T. Kirk, who inherits some “business interests” from her father. Turns out very few of them are “on the level” and some of the older interests in said businesses, headed by executor of her father’s estate, Mr. Fielding, want her out. On her side, and eventual love interest, is the manager of her night club, Steve Gordon (Robert Taylor). Will Toni and Steve defeat the gangsters and live happily ever after? Of course they will, this is a film from 1935.

Times Square Lady – The Furs

Lucky for us, Toni wasn’t exactly poor before she took over dad’s businesses. From the moment we meet her to the end of the film, she’s got quite a number of furs in her wardrobe, including one of the finest examples of a silver fox fur muff ever committed to the screen.

The film opens with Mr. Fielding looking for Toni at the station. He tries two different women, both in furs, before he finds her.

Strike two…

Third times’ a charm as Mr. Fielding finds Toni, in the best fur of the bunch, of course, a lush lynx collar.

The film’s costumers must have thought Virginia Bruce looked great in lynx, and I won’t argue with that.

Fortunately, she looks even better in silver fox. Particularly this lovely example of a very large silver fox muff, one of the best I can remember.

This entire sequence is about her meeting the other interests in her father businesses, and it provides a good 3 minutes of footage of the muff and matching silver fox fur collar.

Included are a couple very nice close ups of Virginia Bruce neatly framed with the silver fox collar.

Still, the star of the sequence is the silver fox muff, and it receives all the attention it deserves.

At this point, the remainder of the film is a bit of a downward slope. Still, Virginia appears once again in lynx for a moment, with this trimmed jacket. A fine addition to the wardrobe.

Finally we get to the coat that I’ll grandfather in for the sake of being particularly complete, this full length fur that may be mink and may be a different short-haired fur. I’m open to opinions on it, and will update if there’s compelling evidence it’s not mink.

We get a tiny taste of more fox at the very end, as Toni and Steve are whisked off by steamer to the credits, standing on the deck and waving good-bye with these ladies and their fox collars.

Toni is wearing another fur here, as well, a collar that may also be mink or not, and very much is included for purely academic purposes.

A well stocked film from both the quality and the time perspectives. The oversized silver fox muff is the real highlight. I’m on the fence as to whether it eclipses the white fox muff from Lady of Burlesque. While slightly smaller and lacking tails, it certainly isn’t marred by some annoying giant silver bird broach. Virginia Bruce’s other lynx furs were fine supporting players. The “brown paper bag” furs I could take or leave, of course. The film also has a few “bit” furs, more so than was common even in this era. Clocking in with a good 15% ratio makes Times Square Lady one of the best I’ve reviewed in some time.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 68 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 15%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1935 film Times Square Lady.

2010/03/14

Furs on Film – Mr Dodd Takes the Air

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

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air – The Film

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

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air – The Furs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brief closeup of Gertrude in the silver fox cape.

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

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

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

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

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

2010/02/21

Furs on Film – Silk Stockings

The 1950s weren’t entirely a wasteland of “elegant and tasteful” (read: boring) mink. There were exceptions, usually in the form of stoles, and this next update is the poster child of 1950’s fox stoles. It also contains my main weakness… pink dyed fox. Silk Stockings is, like fox stoles, something the 50’s presented a lot of: musical remakes of “old” films. In this case the old film was 1939’s Ninotchka. Ninotchka is one of Greta Garbo’s last films, and committed the cardinal sin of presenting her as a Russian who wore no fur at all. Silk Stockings doesn’t quite make up for this, but it’s a solid film nonetheless.

Silk Stockings – The Film

The plot of the film follows the main beats of Ninotchka, but the excuses for the characters being where they are have been tweaked a bit, mostly because this is one of those musicals that provide the thinnest excuse for people to sing. Fred Astaire plays a film producer who snags a Russian composer to write music for his films. The Kremlin sends agents to get him back, but they are corruped by “decadent” western ways. They then send Ninotchka Yoschenko, a true fan of Communism, to bring them all back, proving to be a tougher nut to crack. Since this is 50’s musical, though, said nut is cracked and everyone lives happily ever after in the decadent western paradise.

Silk Stockings – The Furs

Perhaps in homage to the original, Agent Yoschenko is, sadly, not clad in any decadent western fur coats. These are left to the character of Peggy Dayton (Janis Paige), who is the star of producer Steve Canfield’s (Fred Astaire) film. Given the choice, I would have preferred Cyd Charisse be the one swathed in big fox stoles, but, given a real choice, I would have picked Greta Garbo over either of them.

Peggy Dayton arrives, to the film, and the plot, in a big way. It’s a 50’s musical, so entrances are important, and this one is done with a white fox stole and muff combo.

The shot is pretty much wide throughout, sadly. I could have used a closer view of this outfit.

Later, Miss Dayton and Agent Yoshenko briefly meet up, with their contrasting styles on clear display.

Cyd departs, leaving us with an extended conversation between Canfield and Dayton, with Janis Paige vamping around in this wonderful dyed fox stole.

The film’s insistence on wide shots is somewhat frustrating. Though I’m ordinarily no fan, I would have liked the opportunity to direct the “pan-and-scan” cut of the film. Granted, people might wonder where Fred Astaire went to after a while…

Widescreen does have its uses, as this glamor pose on the couch, wrapped in thick dyed fox, does Miss Paige well.

Finally we come to that strange, somewhat rarity… the fur clad musical number. This one features my fashionable Achilles heel… pink dyed fox. I love pink fox, let me just say that directly. I think most fox is a little more “in your face” from a fashion perspective, and brightly dyed versions play that up nicely.

In this musical number, Peggy is trying to “convince” the Russian composer to work for Steve Canfield.

I would have signed up pretty quickly, but it’s a long musical number so it takes some time.

Sadly the big pink fox trim doesn’t hang around the whole time, but in taking it off, the film actually does something akin to a closeup, which is impressive, considering.

Overall this is a great example of 50’s fox stoles, and an even better example of great dyed fox. Still, it suffers for its legacy, as throughout my thoughts drifted first to thinking of Cyd Charisse in those fox stoles, then, to the great one herself, Greta Garbo, who would have filled them out gloriously. Well, Garbo filled out any fur gloriously, so that’s not really saying much, I know. Apologies to Janis Paige, of course, but really, can’t think of many women who would weather a Garbo comparison.

Despite having almost 7 minutes of fur, the ratio is pretty slim because this is (as I believe I’ve pointed out before) a 50’s musical and they were generally pushing the duce / duce-and-a-half mark.

Fur Runtime: approx 7 minutes
Film Runtime: 117 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 5%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1957 film Silk Stockings.

2010/01/24

Furs on Film – Baby Face

Today we look at one of the more famous films I’ve profiled, while mostly ignoring everything that made it famous. We’re going to look at (the furs in) the 1933 film Baby Face, staring Barbara Stanwyck. Yes, Miss Stanwyck’s career highlight may not be until 1938, but she was no slouch in the fur wearing department in the years leading up to it. The film itself is notable as one of the more “infamous” “pre Code” films, and one of the reasons said Code exists.

Baby Face – The Film

Why did said Code exist? Because people couldn’t handle a chick sleeping her way to the top, that’s why. Yes, in this film Barbara Stanwyck stars as Lily Powers, a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. And get it, she does, always off screen and totally implied. This is still 1933, when the mere idea of a female sexual predator was enough to give fine, upstanding people tha vapors! Lily climbs the corporate ladder, leaving behind broken boyfriends in a heap along the way, until she reaches the president of Gotham Trust and thinks her life of luxury is assured. Things actually do work out in the end, but only because the New York State Censorship Board (at least they were really up front with the name) strongly implied the film would never see the light of day if she didn’t.

Baby Face – The Furs

Unlike the scorecard required to keep track of The Mad Miss Manton, this film is almost all Stanwyck all the time. Lily doesn’t sleep her way to the top to dress like a hobo, after all. She’s stuffing the closet with furs, and presumably other expensive clothes and jewelery which I care much less about. Really, shiny rocks? What’s up with that?

Obviously Lily has made it a few floors out of the basement of Gotham Trust by the time she walks on screen in this thickly trimmed cape and muff combo.

Along the way she’s taken her friend, Chico (yes, I said Chico), played by Theresa Harris, and kept her on as a rather well paid maid, as you can tell from the white fox muff and stole.

This is a fairly long sequence leading to a meeting with one her mid-range boyfriends. We get to enjoy the cape from all angles.

This is the boyfriend du jour, things don’t work out well for him. Granted, this can be said of pretty much all of them.

Later, and further up the food chain, Lily is in Paris and hooks up with the new bank president. She had now mounted the top rung of the corporate ladder… so to speak. Here Barbara Stanwyck lounges, face wreathed by silver fox, a object of raw cinematic desire.

We see a bit more of it before this shorter sequence ends, revealing the collar to be even larger than previously seen.

As you may imagine, things aren’t quite wine and roses from that point on, and the bank president has some problems of his own, some of which have to do with the fact that his new girlfriend is kinda a tramp. In a lengthy sequence at the end of the film, Lily wears this full length chinchilla the entire time.

Barbara Stanwyck has a brief smoking shot while wearing the big fur coat.

This is a hefty chinchilla, judging by the size of the collar, which wraps around the back, almost as if it were an unused hood.

Sadly, Lily’s main squeeze bank president meets an untimely end, and the results of all her dirty machinations crash down around her.

But wait! There’s more! He really doesn’t die and it turns out Lily renounces her man hating ways and decides to settle down and live happily ever after with him!

On the one hand, the tacked-on ending designed to get past the New York State Censorship Board is pretty much a substantial betrayal of everything the film was to that point. On the other hand… there’s like another full minute of Barbara Stanwyck in a full length chinchilla coat… So, I’m calling it even.

Baby Face joins a strong second tier of Stanwyck films with great furs. While not everything she did is worthy of inclusion on its own, this one and a few others are, such as Breakfast for Two and Lady of Burlesque. The ratio is fairly solid, a good 8 minutes of fur in a film that ran a little long for the time and was from the early 30’s as well. The film was Warner Bros. response to the film Red Headed Woman, staring Jean Harlow and also notable for the fur fashions within.

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 71 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1933 film Baby Face

2010/01/17

Furs on Film – Fight for Your Lady

Who can’t use more Ida Lupino in white fox? Fight For Your Lady was Miss Lupino’s film before her fashionable exploits in The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt two years later. It’s a broad comedy with the usual themes of suicide and alcoholism.

Fight for Your Lady – The Film

Yes, this is lighthearted comedic romp that mixes opera, wrestling, and the ever amusing alcohol abuse and suicide. Ah, simpler times. Cash strapped Manager Ham Hamilton’s (Jack Oakie) champion Mike Scanlon gets involved with opera singer Marcia (Margot Grahame) and doesn’t throw a fight. This causes Ham more money problems, but leads him to meet with the singer’s fiance Robert (John Boles), whom Marcia eventually leaves at the alter for Mike.

This leads to heavy drinking, thoughts of suicide, and eventually to a trip to Budapest where Robert falls in love with a local singer named Marietta (Ida Lupino) who has a jealous boyfriend named… wait for it… Spadissimo (Erik Rhodes). Spadissimo is quite the killer of Marietta’s would-be paramours, and Robert thinks death-by-Spadissimo is just as good as any… Man… this is a complicated plot… Anyway… uh… Robert and Marietta live happily ever after, which you all knew going in, but this one takes a really twisted road getting there.

Fight for Your Lady – The Furs

Convoluted plot or no, they did a good job in the costuming department. We have the two female leads in lovely fox furs, and, for a very brief moment, in lovey fox furs on screen together. This is always notable if the film you’re watching isn’t The Mad Miss Manton, where in it’s notable because there’s only two.

The character of Marcia Trent follows the standard 1930’s gold digger pattern of being well off enough already to wear furs, yet still desperately needs to marry into money. I have absolutely no trouble at all suspending disbelief for this. Granted… I’d suspend disbelief if someone onscreen walked into a fast foot restaurant and the girls behind the counters were draped in huge fox coats. Wait, that kinda already happened… I digress… Here’s Marcia in a nice silver fox collar.

Marcia is played Margot Grahame, who is costumed very blonde femme fatale in this film, and it works well for her.

Enter Lupino. If you’re keeping score, and I know you are, this lovely full length white fox wrap is rather reminiscent of the full length white fox coat Miss Lupino will we be wearing 2 years later in The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt.

It’s almost as if she took a couple years off to negotiate a pair of sleeves.

Not that I mind, I can put up shots of this all day. Though I regret to say, while this is the best fur in the film, it also appears for the shortest period of time.

The consolation prize isn’t all that bad, though. Here we have Miss Lupino in a fox collared dress and matching fox muff. This is a the start of a reasonably long sequence of the scenes in which she wears this outfit.

Here’s one of the better views, as Marietta, Ham, and some other guy chat about how complicated the plot is for a late 30’s screwball comedy. I do levy my usual critique of most furs on screen; the muff could be larger. You could say I’m a fan of very large muffs… but then everyone would start giggling, and we can’t have that.

Fortunately, we do get some quick close up shots of Ida Lupino’s lovely features framed by the fox fur collar of her dress.

Marcia ends up in Budapest too, of course, otherwise things would not remain sufficiently complicated. Margot and Ida have one quick scene together in their fine fox furs.

Really easy to figure out which one is the “bad girl”, right?

While part of me wishes it was a silver fox hat, I can’t deny the way this one accents the fur is damn near perfect. This is textbook period femme fatale in furs.

Finally, near the very end, we have a short sequence with Ida in a silver fox collar of her own speeding to some destination to save Robert before good ole Spadissimo can kill him. This one is kind of annoying in that the characters she shares the back seat with are far less photogenic than Ida Lupino.

A solid outing from 1937, not only for Ida’s big white fox wrap but the Margot Grahame’s skillfully constructed bad girl outfits. The runtime stats aren’t spectacular, but solid. For any film a 10% ratio is pretty good. Stills last forever, after all, even if they are captured from something that was on screen for only a few seconds.

Fur Runtime: approx 7 minutes
Film Runtime: 66 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1937 film Fight for Your Lady

2010/01/03

Furs on Film – The Mad Miss Manton

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

The Mad Miss Manton – The Film

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

The Mad Miss Manton – The Furs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dora shows up later with another fox collar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For what it’s worth… this guy did it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Gallery- Fur Fashions of The Mad Miss Manton

2009/12/20

Furs on Film – The Annabel Films

At the risk of exposing an opinion that may be slightly outside the “mainstream”… I do not, in fact, love Lucy. I do love Annabel, though, who is played by a twenty-seven year old Lucille Ball during her time as a film star prior to an admittedly pioneering gig on one of television’s most memorable shows. While television Lucy is certainly the most recognizable, Miss Ball made a number of pictures during the 30’s and 40’s… after 1935 she was even credited for her roles. These films reveal Miss Ball to be a stunningly beautiful young woman with a knack for more than just comedy.

Annabel – The Films

Comedy was certainly the center piece of the Annabel films, 2 of the 6 (s… i… x…) films in which Lucille Ball played in 1938. She stars as Annabel Allison, another in a long line of lovely alliterative names common during the period. Annabel is a fading star at Wonder Pictures, and her publicist, Lanny Morgan (Jack Oakie), is doing everything he can to put her back on top, with predictably comedic results. In The Affairs of Annabel, he convinces her to pose as a maid and she ends up in the middle of a kidnapping plot. Annabel Takes a Tour sees our heroine embroiled in a an affair cooked up by her publicist that she believes is real.

Annabel – The Furs

Let’s see, both of these films were from 1938 and featured a Hollywood star, a waning one, but a star nonetheless. That means big fox furs for the lead, and they look amazing on the youthful Miss Ball in both films.

The Affairs of Annabel – 1938

There’s a reason I combined both these films, and that reason is The Affairs of Annabel. There’s only one memorable fur in the film, it occurs at the very end as Annabel and her publicist are ready to “live happily ever after”, to so speak. She’s wearing 2 of those fox stoles I have such a love-hate relationship with.

They make for lovely closeups, though.

This is about 10 seconds before the credits roll, if you’re wondering how long you’ll need to wait to see it.

Annabel Takes a Tour – 1938

In the follow-on about Annabel having an actual “affair”, she wears a much nicer selection of furs. To start we don’t see Annabel in fur, though, we bookend a bit with Frances Mercer in one of the same fox stoles as Annabel wore to close out The Affairs of Annabel.

Now we arrive at the core fur of the film, Annabel’s silver fox trimmed dress and matching silver fox fur muff.

The sequence is early in the film, where meets with her publicist about Frances Mercer’s character’s higher popularity. It’s a long sequence and this outfit is well filmed throughout.

I’ve no doubt mentioned my affinity for big collars in the past, this one certainly qualifies and looks spectacular in all closeups.

One more, another favorite moment at the very end of the sequence as Annabel’s thoughts turn to her rising popularity and her silver fox muff rises to her chin.

Finally, near the end of the film, Annabel arrives in this stroller length lynx coat, another beautiful fur Miss Ball wears well.

Again, there was no shortage of closeups that allow us a moment to drink her in while framed with this thick lynx fur coat.

Were I to complain, it would be about the lack of collar or cuffs, but that complaint would be rather hollow, I admit, this is a beautiful coat.

If your only exposure to Lucille Ball is as a shrill, demanding 50’s housewife, then you’re missing out on a much more beautiful and accessible actress from these early films. She wore furs in quite a few of the films from this period… granted, “this period” being the late 1930’s kind of makes that statement somewhat redundant. These films showcase a vibrant actress with deft comedic skill that wasn’t quite watered down to a single note as it would be later.

The Affairs of Annabel

Fur Runtime: approx 2 minutes
Film Runtime: 68 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 3%

Annabel Takes a Tour

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 67 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

Full Gallery- Fur Fashions of The Annabel Films