Posts tagged ‘furs on film’

2012/09/02

The Ultimate Fur Film That Never Was – 1938

Greetings, remember me? I’m the guy who found new ways to occupy his time. Since this is the first new post in… well, geeze, I should have waited a month for the 1 year anniversary, but hey, no one ever said I had any sense of timing. Ahem, anyway, lo these 11 months later, I come baring… not much at all. I had some ideas on how to expand the wheelhouse a bit, as both Flickr and TCM were kinda drying up. This sort of post (except this meandering paragraph, of course) was one of them.

Flights of Fancy

This is purely a mental exercise where certain minor inconveniences like “reality” are not taken into consideration. The gloves are off (though usually it’s best they stay on, for the record, opera-length, preferably), anyone is fair game to populate this little imaginary film. The idea is to come up with the best fur movie of the 30’s, with all this site’s favorites tossed into the same film with very flimsy excuses why the costume designer could… indulge.

Obviously the studio system is one of those minor inconveniences, so this would never happen for that reason alone. Rest assured, there are many, many, more reasons…

So, without further ado, and, no doubt, far less explanation than is probably necessary, I present:

The 30’s Ultimate Fur Film : The Battle for House Burlesque

Plot:

Ruby Richmond, the nation’s biggest star, just opened The Arctic Lounge. It quickly becomes the hottest new burlesque club in Chicago. She got the property from a very nervous seller, and she quickly discovers why. The hottest new burlesque club in Chicago happens to be located on the border of two of Chicago’s biggest rival mobs. Ruby has to use all the tricks in the book to keep her new club independent from two very determined mob bosses.

Setting:

The Arctic Lounge is an upscale burlesque club with a chilly theme. As the sign outside warns: “The Temperatures are Low Everywhere But On-Stage!” Patrons are urged to dress accordingly.

Starring:

FurGlamor - Barbara Stanwyck - The Mad Miss Manton - 1938

Barbara Stanwyck as Ruby Richmond. Let’s just say type casting happens for a reason. Ruby worked in burlesque before making in big as Tinsel Town’s hottest new star. She wants to cultivate a high class burlesque with her new establishment. She’s tough-as-nails and doesn’t take kindly to anyone trying to muscle-in on her club. Ruby is a famous fashionista who is rarely seen in anything other than some large fox fur.

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Greta Garbo - Inspiration - 1931

Greta Garbo as Ivana Ivanova, head of the Russian mob vying for control of The Arctic Lounge. Sure, Greta’s really Swedish but she had a lot of practice with a Russian accent thanks to Hollywood, and who am I argue? Every bit the stereotypical product of central casting, Ivana is usually found in modern deco takes of intricate czarina outfits in plush fox fur. Ivana is a ruthless criminal mastermind who carved out an empire in Chicgo in short order, taking most her territory from her hated rival…

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FurGlamor- Marlene Dietrich - Shanghai-Express - 1932

Marlene Dietrich as Karla Kristoph, leader of the German mob into whose territory Ivana is encroaching. The Arctic Lounge becomes the line she draws in the proverbial sand. Old school but cunning, she realizes she may have to adapt the old ways to win. Karla is every bit the Hollywood fashionista, and a particular fan of Ruby and her famous fox wardrobe, which she models herself on. Her love of Ruby’s work may be the key to her success or the Achilles heel of her plan.

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Co-starring:

Joan Crawford as Jenny Johnson, a new dancing hire at The Arctic Lounge. She becomes a pawn in the rival mob’s attempts to gain control…. And does burlesque numbers in big fox outfits.

Hedy Lamarr as Vanessa Van Pelt, seinor dancer who takes Jenny under her wing, but is really a plant for Karla’s gang…. And does burlesque numbers in big fox outfits.

Anna May Wong as Machinegun Mai. Gangsters need gun molls, and Mai is Karla’s top enforcer, and dresses according to her whims.

Carole Lombard as The Blonde. Ivana’s enforcer from the old country, skilled in most forms of violence and intimation, sharing her affinity for the big fox coats of home.

Kay Francis as Police Commissioner Mary Masterson. Caught between allowing the gangs free reign over the city and knowing things will be more peaceful when one side “wins”, the wealthy heiress turned policewoman tries to do what’s best, all while suffering from her recent divorce (need to have a divorce, it’s a rule for a great fur film).

Lucile Ball as Betty Blaze, the Arctic Lounge’s famous burlesque guest star whose kidnapping from the club kicks off the big finale…. And does burlesque numbers in big fox outfits.

Finale:

After numerous failed plots, Karla and Mai kidnaps Betty Blaze while on stage, forcing Ruby and (her biggest fan) Karla to team up and get her back. They succeed, and Karla and Ivana agree to leave The Arctic Lounge as “neutral territory” in their conflict, securing the future of the club.

Conclusion

That’s it, the best fur film of the 30’s that was never made and never could be. Was it comedy? A drama? It’s whatever you thought it was. I think it could take a run at unseating The Mad Miss Manton. If anyone has ideas for improvement, feel free to post them in the comments. I might try to come up with a version for the 80’s, at least, and maybe the 70’s, but there’s a lot of crossover there.

Phew… bought another 11 months…

2010/04/11

Fur on Film – Darktown Strutters

It’s late at night. The core demo of Turner Classic Movies is long since retired for the evening. This is where strange things happen, as TCM goes all film history buff on you. Sometimes it’s unintentionally amusing old “educational” films, foreign stuff, and sometimes it’s obscure Blaxploitation from the heart of the 1970’s.

Darktown Strutters – The Film

Darktown Strutters is supposedly a screwball comedy in the vein of Blazing Saddles. Apparently people not watching the film on fast forward looking for furs have trouble figuring it out, so I’m really not qualified to comment. The plot is about a female biker gang and their leader, Syreena (Trina Parks) looking for her mother. They end-up thwarting the plans of a thinly disguised Colonel Sanders look-a-like to clone and replace black leaders so they will vote for white people. Moving right along…

Darktown Strutters – The Furs

The biker gang in question is usually fashionably outfitted in a way that would stand out in a procession down Burbon St. in the middle of Mardi Gras. The attitude the film takes towards fashion virtually demands big fox furs.

Here’s fox number one. Syreena in a club wearing a neo-flapper outfit. The most anachronistic aspect is the best part: a huge white fox stole.

She’s here to hire a private eye to look for her mother. That doesn’t go well, but she receives a tip from a lady in the club, whose got a red feather stole on that is grandfathered in because of the white fox in the shot.

Close up of Trina Parks in the white fox fur stole.

The white fox was merely an appetizer to the main course. For reasons I’m not entirely clear on Syreena goes to a place called the “Pot-cicle” to get information from a woman named Lixie. It’s cold in the Pot-cicle, so very very cold.

Syreena’s large gray or cross fox vest coat and stole looks more at home in some caveman spoof film, but that hardly means it can’t be appreciated. It fits like a glove with the films fashion sensibility, and is the best thing here until Lixie emerges from that igloo…

…wearing a thick dyed pink fox parka.

Yes, my favorite fur in my favorite dyed color, this keeps Lixie warm in style, with matching ear muffs no less.

Lixie and Syreena warm their hands by the igloo’s upper exhaust port. Even I’m not sure what I just wrote there… Anyway, the scene would have worthy enough with Syreena’s fox alone, but I was rather floored when Lixie emerged in that pink fox fur parka.

If you have occasion to watch the scene, notice how much trouble Trina Parks has with the stole attached to the vest coat. She throws it back over her shoulder at least three times, each time they cut back to her it’s slipped off, and she has to throw it over again.

Darktown Strutters is certainly one of the more surreal entries I’ve done, owing a bit to its Blaxploitation and (if you hadn’t caught on) weedsploitation roots. While the ratio isn’t huge, I think this one comes down to the (slightly more than) 1 epic fur rule, embodied in the combination of pink fox parka and cave-woman super-fox combo. Really, how can you not consider that combo noteworthy.

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 90 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 7%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1975 film Darktown Strutters.

2010/03/21

Furs on Film – Easy to Wed

TCM finally showed Easy to Wed again, so I can do my “remake comparison post”. The idea of remaking things as musicals didn’t start in the 50’s. No that trend started a while back, and Easy to Wed is one of the examples from the 40’s. What film was it? Well, something long time readers will be familiar with: Libeled Lady.

Easy to Wed – The Film

Easy to Wed is pretty much the exact same story as Libeled Lady, though there’s some people singing since it’s now a musical, and, since Esther Williams is involved, an additional swimming poll or two. I suppose MGM had a crack team of specialist screenwriters completely devoted to figuring out ways to put Esther Williams in water. The only differences here are the people playing the roles as even the character names are the same.

Easy to Wed – The Furs

So we have a “Tale of Two Gladys-es”, the first the screen legend Jean Harlow, the second Lucille Ball, who in this film occupies the space between her film and television careers. It seems the people who remade the film felt the need to preserve some, though sadly not all, of the original’s costume direction.

As Gladys and Bill Chandler (Van Johnson) get their sham marriage, she starts things off with this white fox hat. An appetizer, at best, but not unworthy of notice.

Now, in terms of how this film differs from the original, the producers saw fit to present the dinner scene from the original without Esther Williams in a huge white fox cape as Myrna Loy’s Connie Allenbury wore. This was easily the best fur from Libeled Lady, and I’ll throw it up here just to remind everyone.

Gladys on the phone. In Libeled Lady we had righty Jean Harlow in chinchilla:

Easy to Wed provides us Lucille Ball as a lefty in ermine. Advantage Libeled Lady.

While Connie didn’t wear a huge white fox cape to dinner, she does get married in this mink:

Finally we have the core of both films, the furs worn by the 2 Gladys-es during the film’s comedic climaxes. Libeled Lady provided this fox trimmed beauty with an enormous collar.

Easy to Wed puts Lucy’s Gladys in a fox wrap of some, not-unworthy size. I’m still giving it to Libeled Lady, though.

The end of both films is virtually identical, where Gladys confronts Connie and Bill with the true status of their marriage, runs to the bedroom, and exits when Bill and Warren (Keenan Wynn) have a brief altercation. Both fade to credits with a 5 way argument, though Easy To Wed adds a mariachi band to the mix. Here’s Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow in the bedroom.

And Here’s Lucille Ball and Esther Williams in the bedroom.

On its own Easy To Wed isn’t a bad fur film. The last part with Lucille Ball in the fox wrap is quite nice. It suffers for the inevitable comparisons to Libeled Lady, though. It should be noted that Gladys is a kind of proto-Lucy (Ricardo), something that some may find a plus, but, simply put, I do not. To be fair, she was the same character when Jean Harlow played her, it’s simply that Harlow didn’t end up playing the same character for the rest of her career.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 106 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 9%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1946 film Easy To Wed.

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

2009/12/06

Furs in Film – Why Did I Get Married

Film subjects of this blog have tended towards a few specific time periods. Not my fault fashion doesn’t stand still. That doesn’t mean there aren’t promising signs as we slog through a nearly 20 year drought in fine on-screen fur fashions. We have Tyler Perry to thank for this modest little reminder, which is nicely winter themed as well to go along with holiday season. So enjoy this barely 2 year old entry, it’s probably not going to happen all that often.

Why Did I Get Married – The Film

The film Why Did I Get Married is based on a play of the same name, and is set, fortunately for us all, in a luxury retreat cabin in snowy Colorado. The film is about 4 married couples and the problems they’re currently experiencing. You know what that means… talk of divorce. Yes, something in common with films from the 30’s with fine fur fashions. Granted, this one probably has a bit more nuance to the character relations than a 30’s divorce comedy. Or maybe not, as I’m probably not the person who should be grading “nuance.”

Why Did I Get Married – The Furs

The film is notable for 2 reasons, primarily the fact the furs are there at all, but also because they’re just run of the mill cold weather fashions for the affluent women wearing them. So it’s no big deal that the ladies are adorned in fox, mink, and sable as they go through their marital strife.

To get the ball rolling we have Denise Boutte in this red fox jacket. Won’t do anyone any good to bother comparing 2000’s fox coats with 1930’s fox coats, so I won’t. Pleased to be seeing this “modest” little jacket at all.

Greeting Denise and “friend” are the other wives at the retreat, led by Tasha Smith in the film’s “signature” full length silver fox coat. Sharon Leal appears in a full length mink beside her.

We have the film’s brief shot of both fox coats on screen at once.

Tasha Smith is the only one to really get more than one coat in the film, here appearing in an oddly mismatched combination of furs. The full length mink is fairly conservative compared to the silver fox.

Due to the character she plays, it’s difficult to find a close up of Tasha Smith’s character when she’s not possessed of some disdainful or exasperated look on her face, at least while she’s wearing that lovely silver fox.

The ladies go shopping later in the film, and while it’s apparent it’s not exactly a furrier, there are furs in the racks. Here we see Janet Jackson in the sable wrap she wears along with Sharon Leal in her mink once more.

Janet is still better known for her other career, but she looks very fetching in the sable, accented by a red scarf.

One more with all the furs on screen at once, Tasha and her fox, Janet in the sable, and Sharon in her mink.

The stats for this film fall into what is probably pretty “average” for fur fashions in a lot of films, so it certainly can’t be called a “fur film” for its on-screen ratio. It’s a film from 2007 with a full length silver fox coat in it, so that alone is pretty notable.

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

Fur Fashions of Why Did I Get Married – Full Gallery

2009/12/02

IMDb Fur Coat Movie List

http://www.imdb.com/keyword/fur-coat/

Noticed this list while doing research for posts.  Surprised me to find it, actually, and more surprised to find it reasonably well stocked.  The primary thing to note is the “rating” is not of the quality of furs in the film, but the overall IMDb rating.  Took a moment to dawn on me, but the fact that The Mad Miss Manton wasn’t at the top was a big clue.

Miss Manton is on the list, though, as are other good choices, like Forever Lulu and Blond Cheat. It appears the rationale behind applying the tag isn’t necessarily confined to furs being a plot point in the film, a la Forever Lulu and Butterfield 8.  Otherwise Miss Manton and others wouldn’t be on the list.

Definitely a few I haven’t seen on that list.  Take care in using it, though, as I checked out RocknRolla on its recommendation was quite disappointed in the results.

2009/11/29

Furs in Film – The Films of The Falcon

I know what you’re thinking… I like the Lone Wolf, but what do you have in an ornithologically themed gentleman detective? Well you are in luck. Today we have the films of a gentleman (and his brother) called The Falcon. The Falcon was created by Michael Arlen in a short story in Town and Country and quickly thrown up on the screen by RKO a year later. Basically, every aspiring writer’s wet dream fulfilled by a studio looking to get into the gentleman detective film franchise business.

The Falcon – The Films

The Falcon first speedily appeared in The Gay Falcon in 1941, played by George Sanders. To quell the hysterical reaction of your collective inner twelve-year-olds, the name originated with the character’s name of Gay Lawrence. Okay, that probably didn’t help. In the original story the character’s name was Gay Falcon, which explained the name. The films fell back on using The Falcon as a nickname. Sanders  played The Falcon in 4 films, then, in The Falcon’s Brother, he passed the role to Tom Conway, who played… The Falcon’s brother, and was, in fact, George Sanders’ real life brother.

The Falcon – The Furs

The entire series was filmed in the early 40’s, but the reliable gentleman detective theme overcame the fashions of the day and provided some very nice furs. Not every Falcon film featured great furs, and no single film really rises to worthiness on its own (a couple almost make it), but taken as a group, they make for a good survey. So here’s a quick look at the fur fashions of the Falcon films.

The Gay Falcon – 1941

The Falcon came out of the gate strong with Wendy Barrie as the Falcon’s fiancée de-jour in this large white fox coat. Accented with a nice veil, the big white fox fur is well photographed for the few minutes it appears.

The Falcon ends up being a bit of a serial fiance, though Wendy would make it back for another film, this particular white fox would not. Not to worry, there’s better white fox ahead.

A Date with the Falcon – 1941

Yes, they made films quickly back then. I’m 90% certain this is Mona Maris in a red fox stole near the beginning of the film.

This sequel wasn’t the best of the bunch for furs, but Miss Maris does look fine in this fox stole.

The Falcon Takes Over – 1942

Probably the best of the bunch for 2 reasons, one, this amazing full length white fox fur coat, and two because Helen Gilbert is doing a great Veronica Lake impression.

Check out the main gallery for more of this lovely specimen. As this image suggests, Miss Gilbert is playing the bad girl. This film is actually the first adaption of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely.  If you want pretentious amateur film critic analysis of that, read the IMDb comments, not this blog post.

The end of The Falcon Takes Over includes what would become a standard trope of the Falcon films… someone appears to ask the Falcon for help on a new case. In this case it’s a group of showgirls, some of whom are wearing furs. Sadly, the other standard element of this trope is that it actually has nothing to do with the next film.

The Falcon’s Brother – 1942

George Sanders must have realized they weren’t going to have a better fur than the white fox in The Falcon Takes Over, so he wanted to move on. Or maybe there was another reason… In any case, The Falcon’s Brother did not carry the fur fashion momentum of the previous film and gives us only this silver fox stole worn by Amanda Varela.

The Falcon In Danger – 1943

The second best Falcon film for fur fashion, this one features a number of furs, on screen at the same time. First up is the showcase fur, a long silver fox cape worn by Amelita Ward, who is playing The Falcon’s latest main squeeze.

As the mystery unfolds, ladies in fur gather at the airport with The Falcon. Amelita and her silver fox meet up with Elaine Shepard in this full length mink coat.

Finally, by process of elimination of women listed as being in the film on the IMDb, I think this is Jean Brooks in a spotted fur collar, which would not have ordinarily been noteworthy without Miss Ward’s silver fox being in the shot.

The Falcon and the Co-eds – 1943

Another light entry, which gives us, at the very end, this actress in a short haired fur hat and muff.

Which wouldn’t really have made it either if not for being a few seconds away from the Falcon’s latest end-of-film setup as this lovely lady appears in a short fox jacket to ask for The Falcon’s help on another new case before the credits role.

The Falcon in Mexico – 1944

Much like the fur carrying showgirls at the end of The Falcon Takes Over that lady in fox isn’t in the next film, The Falcon Out West, which has only a single rather bland mink to show for it. Thankfully the next sequel has two very full fox jackets, starting with this white fox on The Falcon’s current girlfriend, who’s in this film for about a minute.

The Falcon sends his girlfriend off for the rest of the film then immediately catches this very well dressed burglar (Cecilia Callejo) in the act of breaking into a gallery to steal a painting for which she posed, wearing this large marble blue fox fur jacket.

The Falcon in San Francisco – 1945

We end on neither a high nor low point, as Fay Helm (I think) brings us this very nice silver fox fur coat as she bails the Falcon out of jail.

Fay’s a bad girl, so the silver fox is a good fit, as is her smoking at the restaurant she brings the Falcon to after bailing him out.

For a series of film from the 40’s this is a pretty good showing. Not all of them are really great, and there’s the oddball The Falcon in Hollywood (1944), which by all rights should have been the best of the bunch but was completely dry. Whatever the reason, the wardrobe requirements for the gentleman detective film took a valiant stand against the fashions of the day and we all got something good out of it.

Fur Fashions of the Films of The Falcon – Full Gallery

2009/11/22

Furs in Film – Blond Cheat

Another lower wattage star power film today. Though not Born Reckless, it features a young Joan Fontaine prior to the height of her career. Blond Cheat is from 1938 and is about rich people, so they could have cast any random starlet, and the costume department would have had a winner on their hands.

Blond Cheat – The Film

A slightly more twisty pot in this one than the usual boy-meets-girl thing. An officer in a loan company, Michael Ashburn (Derrick DeMarney) is tasked with safeguarding some very expensive diamond earrings. No big deal right, keep the little box in his pocket and he’s home free… But wait! The earrings are “non-removable” and currently attached to a young blond woman named Julie Evans (Joan Fontaine). Michael apparently isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, so he buys this and spends the evening with Julie, blowing off his social-climbing fiancee. That’s the first half hour, things get more complicated from there, but the one thing this film an every boy-meets-girl film has in common is Mike and Julie live happily ever after.

Blond Cheat – The Furs

This film has some great shorter fox in it, trims and wraps. During Mike and Julie’s first date Joan Fontaine wears one of those common silver fox stoles of the period, with head/legs still attached. They have a proper name, though my search through Google turned up mostly vintage eBay listings. I believe I may have mentioned before I have a kind of love/hate relationship with them, as I love them anytime the aforementioned head/legs aren’t visible. Blond Cheat is a bit of a tossup there, as it has scenes of both. Fortunately it is, by far, the least notable fur in the film.

This is Julie and Mike’s first “date”, as Mike virtuously safeguards the earrings. Here’s the silver fox fur stole, now visible only a blaze of thick fur across her right shoulder, one of the best ways to film this particular piece.

In another good shot, you can see Mike hasn’t lost track of those earrings yet. Not to be too nit-picky about the title of the film and Miss Fontaine, who is lovely, but there were a lot “blonder” actresses who could have done this role.

In order to dine and be arrested with Julie the previous evening, Mike blew off a date with his gold-digging fiance, Roberta Trent (Lilian Bond), who appears the next morning hunting him down. She appears in this lovely fox trimmed dress with a match fox muff.

And proceeds to smoke in an annoyed fashion with Mike as he tries to explain.

A little later thankfully Roberta hasn’t taken this outfit off, and we see a nice shot of the fox trim and matching muff as Mike meet’s with his fiancee’s equally gold digging parents. You will also notice the extremely long haired fur muff on Roberta’s mother, who is played by a woman named Cecil. Have to say I never cared for fur like this, as it simply is too long, and too much like human hair… which I am a big fan of, when it is on top of a lady’s head.

In a shorter sequence, as Julie and Roberta continue to spar over Mike, Roberta appears in this coat with a full silver fox fur collar.

Finally, Joan Fontaine appears in this white fox wrap in a dueling dinner date sort of set up. Not the largest ever seen, but a fine one nonetheless.

Not sure if this is the best fur in the film or Lilian Bond’s muff accessorized fox trim from earlier wins that prize. Sadly, for some of the fox wrap’s on-screen time; it’s shown mostly in the background of a wide shot.

There is this fine direct shot of the back for a few seconds.

To close things out the director of photography makes up the earlier wide shots with the cozy if “foggy” carriage ride where we see Joan wrapped up nicely with white fox.

This is another good film for fur runtime. Though I didn’t meticulously document each instance of their first encounter, Miss Fontaine remains costumed in her silver fox stole throughout her character’s first meeting with Mike Ashburn. Both the fox trimmed dress of Lilian Bond and the later white fox wrap on Joan both appear in two scenes instead of one. The barely over 60 minute runtime also helps out there.

Fur Runtime: approx 15 minutes
Film Runtime: 62 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 24%

Should note both Lilian Bond and Joan Fontaine have brief smoking in fur sequences as well.

The Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1938 film Blond Cheat