Posts tagged ‘fur trim’

2011/03/27

Elizabeth Taylor in Fur

A brief detour into “current events” for this blog. Elizabeth Taylor’s recent passing gives us a reason to take a look back. Unfortunately, her most high profile roles occurred in the most low profile fur fashion years. The IMDb suggests she started in 1942 and was particularly big in the 50’s and 60’s.

She did some things in the 70’s, but none of them look all that familiar, and I doubt those will be the ones that figure into the eventual TCM retrospective. There is, of course, BUtterfield 8, but as far as movies with fur coats as plot points go, it’s a really boring fur coat. Her character should have stolen that white fox from The Awful Truth instead.

Fortunately, 50 pages deep in Flickr search results, I found some good ones:

Elizabeth Taylor

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Elizabeth Taylor

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By the way, if anyone knows what the story is with the last shot, if it’s from a film, I mean, you’d be doin’ a guy a solid if you posted the name in the comments.

Oh, and not to bite the hand that just fed me a quickie update, but really, guys, is it that hard to tag photos in Flickr? That last one for instance, may I suggest, oh, I don’t know… “fur.” That’s just off the top of my head.

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

2011/02/13

Furs on Film – Fools for Scandal

A small gem of a box office bomb from that most magic of years, 1938, that features what could have been a bit of a Mad Miss Manton moment, but misses the mark a bit. Still, decent selection of good furs here with the good sense to save the best for last. Hope I’m not overselling this one…

Fools for Scandal – The Film

This is the story of movie star Kay Winters (played by movie star Carole Lombard) and Rene (played by some Belgian guy) and how they fall in love despite both being privileged rich people pretending to be poor people. Kay’s cover is blown early, and Rene ends up following her around until she hires him as a cook. Love blooms of course, though Kay has another suitor whom she intends to marry, she and the disguised marquis eventually end up together. That would end up making her a marchioness, which is pretty much the most uncool sounding of all feminine noble ranks. The Spanish got it right by going with marquesa.

Fools for Scandal – The Furs

While movie star Kay is the main character, she doesn’t do all the fur wearing. Isabel Jeans plays noted gossip, and cause for the title of the film, Lady Paula Malverton, and provides her share of fur fashions as well.

In fact, we start off with Lady Malverton hosting a party in this mink stole. Down in the corner there is “Jill” (Marcia Ralston) wearing a silver fox wrap that is not well filmed at all. Bit of a disappointment.

Lady Paula and Jill show up later as the action has moved from Paris to London. The fox trimmed cape on Isabel Jeans gets a nice chuck of screen time, but Jill’s really long haired jacket is quickly forgotten.

Black fur at night strikes again. At least the trim on Lady Paula’s outfit is easy to see.

There’s a long sequence that features Isabel Jeans’ character snooping around Kay’s London home while wearing the fox trimmed cape.

There are a couple decent close shots while wearing it.

Now we come to the part that, while promising, was ultimately a little disappointing. Here we see Kay relaxing in bed with a mink trimmed robe. She is about to have some visitors…

…starting with Lady Malverton in this red fox stole.

She is quickly joined by quite a few other ladies who all happened to be walking their dogs and decided to drop in, and gossip.

Lather, rinse, repeat, until there’s a quite the collection of ladies in some variety of fur all lined up at the foot of Kay’s silk sheets.

Sadly, the furs here aren’t all that spectacular, especially for a year that gave us The Mad Miss Manton. I like the idea, but the costume designer didn’t go far enough with it.

This is the most complete shot of all the girls who crowd into Kay’s bedroom. Lot’s of fox trim and a couple full coats of “not-fox”. Many even have no furs at all. Simply not acceptable.

Fortunately the films narrative sense as regards fur fashion is spot on, providing Carole Lombard in this coat as the climax.

Lombard looks lovely this this thick, shaggy fox coat. It’s so shaggy I won’t discount the possibility that it’s coyote.

There’s a good two minutes of screen time devoted to this fur, a solid performance. Interestingly, the coat’s construction is somewhat odd, as if put together by a few enormous pelts with a big gap between them.

Makes for an odd look from the back, as it appears she’s wearing it backwards.

From what I found in my meticulous research on this film (read the Wikipedia article, natch), this is not considered Carole Lombard’s finest film. It’s on the exact opposite end of that spectrum, in fact. So bare that in mind if you’re actually planning on watching it without the fast-forward button firmly depressed. I found it disappointing for different reasons, of course. It did redeem itself in the end there with that big fluffy fox coat, which is probably worth the price of admission alone.

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1938 film Fools for Scandal

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.

2010/09/05

Joan Collins in White Fox – The Man Who Came to Dinner 1972

man who came to dinner 197

Originally uploaded by collinsfan

Celebrating Labor Day in the states like most people, by doing less labor.

While well known in fur fashion for a couple other “minor” things, I went looking for something from Miss Collins’ lesser known works, and ended up here. “Here” is The Man Who Came to Dinner, which, honestly, sounds absolutely freakin’ riveting! It’s based on a play, so it must be an action packed thrill ride.

Not that I’d be doing anything but fast forwarding to where Joan shows up wearing this, anyway.

I’ll give this one 7 out of a yet-to-be-determined number of stars. I think a floor length white fox fur cape is the one missing element here.

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.