Posts tagged ‘mink’

2011/09/25

Furs on Film – What a Way to Go!

Back this week to fill in a bit more of that rather great-fur anemic decade, the 1960s. The 60’s still have the charm of not being the 90s, at least. This one is able to row against the prevailing fashion tide mostly thanks to the liberal use of fantasy sequence and parody of Hollywood “excess.”

What a Way to Go – The Film

In her current life, Shirley MacLaine stars as Louisa May Foster, a very rich, very unhappy woman who finds herself on a psychiatrist’s couch, retelling the various stories of how she tried to marry for love, not money. In each case, her poor, loveable husband of choice ends up striking it rich, neglecting her, and then dying, leaving her increasingly well off, but still unhappy. The film is an anthology of sorts, with Lousia’s time on the couch the framing device. As surprises no one, the process starts to repeat itself just before the credits roll.

What a Way to Go – The Furs

Shirley wears pretty much all the furs in the film. Part of the charm of the film is the framing sequences at the psychiatrist’s office all feature Miss MacLaine wearing a mink hat. The remainder all occur in the flashbacks to her various relationships, culminating in one of the best uses of dyed fox in film history.

Here’s the mink hat in question. Granted, if you’re not impressed, you’re going to be bored pretty quickly, since she never takes it off the entire time she’s “in therapy.”

Due to the length of time it appears, there are many nice close ups of Miss MacLaine capped by the mink. As should be a surprise to no regular reader, I’m not a mink fan, but I do like the hat. Sure, it should be fox, but, well, split milk and all.

More mink from Husband One’s story. This conservative mink fringe is hooded, at least.

After suffering through Husband Two with nary a fur in sight, things pick up with Husband Three. Already rich, Lousia meets Rod Anderson, equally if not more wealthy, at the airport. She’s wearing a fox hat and this fox fur trimmed coat.

This is a long sequence, as Lousia goes aboard Rod’s private jet and chats all while keeping the furs firmly in place. Sadly unlike many of the furs in the film, this is fairly conservative fox by any standards.

She flips that around in the film’s fantasy sequence, as Louisa imagines life with Rod and their money combined. In the sequence she wears a series of outfits by Edith Head, intentionally “over the top.” The first is more feathery than fur, obviously.

Things pick up a bit when the white mink trimmed outfit with the rather large muff appears.

While again, mink isn’t particularly my favorite, this is certainly of one my favorite minks.

Finally there’s the first of two dyed foxes in the film. Would have picked something other than yellow, myself (like the color of the film’s second dyed fox), but still, not too bad overall.

Each element of the fantasy sequence is fairly brief, so individual elements do not get a lot of mileage, but a whole thing is about a minute and some change.

Finally, Husband Four’s story provides the marquee fur. Lousia meets and marries Pinky Benson, a stage performer who, after they’re married, becomes an overnight Hollywood success. Pinky “embraces” his name, surrounding himself with his namesake color, and that includes Louisa’s wardrobe.

The dyed pink fox fur cape is spectacular. It’s supposed to be, and the dyed hair to match is, well, “the cherry on top” is, yes, very, very cliché, but I’m going there.

Even get a quick bonus of double fox in this part of the scene. That lynx-dyed fox isn’t exactly well shot, though.

Finally one close up of Miss MacLaine in her pink wig and huge pink fox. While the point of this was to lampoon Hollywood excess (and is the only reason it even appeared in a film shot in 1964), I would suggest to any lovely lady they can consider a cape like this for the average trip to the grocery store or cinema. Just think about it, that’s all I’m saying.

The full fur runtime of What a Way to Go! clocks in around 23 minutes. Now, all of that isn’t the large pink fox cape, sadly. Miss MacLaine wears her mink hat through pretty much all of the framing story, and while I don’t want to say that “pads” the runtime a bit, others may not be so kind. The fox hat and trim from the third story consumes the other big chunk. The best parts, her fantasy sequence and the pink fox are about four minutes combined. Still, for the 60’s, this is an amazing little gem.

Fur Runtime: 23 minutes
Film Runtime: 111 minutes
Onscreen Fur Ratio: 21%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1964 film What a Way to Go!

2011/08/14

Furs on Film – Funny Lady

More color. 70’s color! 70’s color about the 20’s and 30’s! The 70’s don’t get enough credit for some nice furs, because, well, it’s hard to see anything in the shadow of the blinding brilliance of the 80’s. Most period pieces are as much a product of the time in which they are produced, so lucky for us there was no problem with big furs in the 70’s.

Funny Lady – The Film

Funny Lady (1975) is a sequel to the film Funny Girl (1968), both biographical of Fanny Brice, an early success in stage, radio, and film. Staring Barbara Streisand, Funny Girl was one of her first big hits. For what it’s worth, there’s s bit of fur in Funny Girl, but it’s from the 60’s about the Teens and 20’s, so it’s yawn-worthy. Funny Lady deals with Brice’s later life in the 30’s (yeah!), and her marriage to showman Billy Rose (James Caan).

Funny Lady – The Furs

As Brice, the subject of this two-hour plus biopic, Streisand does most, but not quite all, the fur wearing. Brice is depicted as the classic Hollywood star from the period, and that includes a lot of fur. One of the reason I’m rather fond of that period, indeed.

The opening scenes are set earlier, in the late 20’s and the costume designer (sadly) went for a bit of realism. Brice wears some dark, short-haired furs, such as this wrap.

Followed by this, another bit of brown fur trimming a fabric top. The horizontal pelt work is mildly interesting. This scene also features Miss Brice smoking in fur, using a short cigarette holder.

Finally, someone remembers they were designing costumes in the 70’s. Here’s a nice white fox stole, with Fanny’s somewhat “signature” cigarette holder. Good shot of the white fox here, very high on the shoulder.

Streisand spends most of this lengthy sequence seated, but there is a short shot of her changing seats where we see more of the white fox stole.

The cinematographer rightly keeps Streisand in frame most of the time, and most of the time she’s smoking with that cigarette holder.

“Most” of the time. Probably one of the few on the planet who’d notice this, I admit, but she “mysteriously” looses the holder at the very end of the scene. Here she is smoking without it right before leaving. This will not go down as one of the great goofs of cinematic history. I’ll tell you the greatest goof: the character Helen Shirley wears two different full length fox coats at the end of Christmas Vacation, one outside, one inside.

On to the marquee fur. One that’s hard to describe, and I like it when that happens. Show’s some creativity on the part of the costume designers. This appears to be a kind of wrap / collar made from fox tails with a more easy-to-describe matching fox muff.

Like the white fox stole, this item also receives the attention it deserves in this long sequence between Streisand and Caan. It includes a few nice closeups.

And we see it from a few angles, always a nice bonus.

It also tickles my preference for colors that don’t occur in nature. This looks like a nice, dark, richly saturated plum dyed fox.

Streisand doesn’t do all the heavy lifting in the film, though if you blink, you’ll miss the other stuff. Well, not quite, but certainly nothing major. This lady in an external shot with the black fox trim probably isn’t even visible if you’re not seeing the film in its original aspect ratio.

Up next is the part of the film that almost becomes “padding.” It’s a black fox stole, though, a perfectly nice one, in fact. Sadly it’s worn in a very “moodily” lit sequence over a black dress (which, fashionably speaking, is a great match). So it’s really hard to see a lot of the time.

Not all the time, of course, and this shot at the mirror where Fanny lights up for another smoke while wearing the stole is quite clear. It moves from this to a full musical number on a dimly lit stage that, again, doesn’t do the stole much justice.

Another non-Streisand fur, a nice one, but a quick one. This blue fox stole needed a better, longer shot.

It also needs to be in a shot that doesn’t remind me that karakul is actually considered a “fur.” I’d say it’s a fur I actually “hate” but I don’t consider it a fur, just some sick joke by someone who wanted to associate one of the ugliest things you can wear with one of the most beautiful.

We do end on a better note, though this one is quite literally a “blink and you’ll miss it” fur. Brice is leaving her radio show, pulling on this really full silver fox stroller coat. It’s around for a couple seconds in a hallway then a couple more in a very wide shot outside the studio.

20 minutes of fur sounds impressive, but the move is over 2 hours long, so the ratio clocks in at 15%. According to the Wikipedia article, they had to cut to get to that length. Hope there weren’t any more great furs that ended up on the cutting room floor. A solid entry, and worthy addition to any library. Fanny’s smoking habit and affection for holders will be polarizing for some, I suppose, but obviously I’m in the ‘pro’ camp on that one. Actually, if I had to nitpick, I’d say the holder was a little too short.

Fur Runtime: approx 20 minutes
Film Runtime: 136 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 15%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1975 film Funny Lady

2011/06/26

Furs on Film – This is the Night

Back this week with an actual update, one I’ve been sitting on for a while now. Another entry from the early 30’s, this one pulls out the big gun right up front, but doesn’t completely fizzle later. It also boasts two prominent female roles where one is not objectionable to look at. That’s a sad rarity for films from this period.

This is the Night – The Film

I’ve read two different summaries of the plot of this film and am still not entirely sure how all the characters fit together. One thing is certain, there’s marriages, both legitimate and sham, and cheating on said marriages. There’s a lady pretending to be an actress playing someone’s fake wife, and a man named Bunny. That later fact does not make reading plot summaries any easier. Because, seriously, there’s only one reason someone with a Y chromosome should legitimately be called Bunny, and it’s generally only a temporary state, and he better be good at it.

The is the Night – The Furs

Okay, so our designed fur-wearers in this complex little relationship comedy may at least be named. They are Thelma Todd as “Claire” and Lily Damita as “Germaine.” Lily is memorable from one of the other 3 films she appeared in during 1932: The Match King. She does not fare as well in this film, though.

As alluded to in the opening, This is the Night hits the ground running with one very short exception. This very quick shot happens just before the arrival of Claire, part of a set of shots that build to her appearance.

Appear, Claire does, stepping from the limo in this marvelous white fox trimmed coat.

The coat’s collar and cuffs are the appropriate size, namely the sort that makes it hard to tell there’s parts that aren’t fur.

In the opener, Thelma Todd’s character suffers the 1932 version of the “wardrobe malfunction,” where she looses her skirt before the crowd that gathered to watch her arrival. The results were a little more demure, as one might expect from the period. She lost a skirt but still had a slip. For those wondering, seeing a ladies slip at that time was rather “scandalous”. What can I say… they didn’t have the Internet then.

Fortunately for us, that means an extended limo ride back home where Claire chats with… Bunny. Yep, the thing on the left, that’s “Bunny.”

The combination of the arrival and the return provide three and a half mintues to enjoy this lovely white fox trimmed coat.

Say what you will about spread of modern 3D films (fine by me), back in 1932, single color sequences were the super high tech gimmick of the day. We do get a brief look at the white fox as more white than super light blue as Claire returns home.

The white fox is the best thing in the film, but not the only thing. Later Thelma Todd appears in more fur trim. This time it appears to be lynx.

The wider shot gives us a better idea of the extent of the trim.

I’m more partial to this close-up, of course.

As you can see, Lily Damita shares some fur in this scene, sadly one that pales in comparison to Themla’s lynx fur trim.

Lily doesn’t fare much better later, as my old nemesis returns: ugly-silver-fox-stole-with-bits-still-attached. It’s the poison pill of 30’s fur fashion.

Finally, near the end, Lily finally gets a nice looking fur, sadly all she does his hold it over her forearm.

As you may hopefully infer, that is a large fox collar, and it’s part of a cape or coat that Lily mostly keeps firmly folded over her arm for the entire scene.

One, admittedly enjoyable, exception is near the end of the scene where she’s hugging it to her body, making for this oddly compelling close-up shot.

Honestly, you can probably give up after the white fox goes away, but the remainder of the film isn’t a complete wasteland. Unlike The Awful Truth, there’s more fur here, and substantial fur in a couple cases. Granted, Irene Dunne’s white fox coat could easily carry the entire film. Themla Todd’s white fox fur trim, though very nice, can’t. I would have liked to have gotten one nice close-up shot of Miss Todd’s face wreathed in white fox, but that’s the one fur the director of photography chose not to display in close up.

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

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film This is the Night

2011/05/01

Furs on Film – Rockabye

Well, I was going to post this last week, but it kind of sucks to roll out of bed and suddenly discover the workflow you’ve used for three years now suddenly fails. Ah, codec drama! I have no idea what screwed it up, and the prospect of figuring it out is daunting, so I did a lazy workaround that involves moving mountains of data on an external hard drive, and… What, you don’t care? Right, right…

Then how ’bout one of the single biggest fox collars committed to the screen?

Rockabye – The Film

This early 30’s Constance Bennett flick, she plays Judy Carroll, a Broadway actress who testifies for her former boyfriend, an embezzler. While I’m not sure about the particular legal statute involved here (probably because they made it up), doing so ends up costing her custody of an orphan she had planed to adopt. She drowns her sorrows with a trip to Europe with, (le sigh) her old, rotund, alcoholic mother, and meets a playwright with an eerily autobiographical play called, wait for it: Rockabye. Judy theoretically falls in love with him and wants to take the play back to Broadway, but, in a twist that may not have been quite so cliché in 1932, ends up with her loving manager instead.

Rockabye – The Furs

As famous Broadway actress Judy Caroll, Constance Bennett does most of the fur wearing, and almost all of the fur wearing you’d particularly want to see. For the sake of accuracy, if not the level of bile in my stomach, I should mention Judy’s mother also wears fur. She’s played Jobyna Howland, a woman every bit as young, thin, and attractive as Marie Dressler. Okay, that’s a little unfair to Jobyna, she’s maybe 2% more attractive.

How do you get your dirty, embezzling, ex-boyfriend acquitted? You go to court and testify in this:

He’d be in the clear if I was on the jury.

Anyone who dated a woman with this kind of fashion sense is a-okay in my book.

Not sure how else to put this, but: I really, really like this collar.

I realize this isn’t exactly the insightful level of commentary you’ve come to expect from me, but, honestly, I’m a little distracted.

Now, the collar is pretty much grade-A, but let’s not forget what’s been in her lap the whole time. As she leaves the stand, she helpfully hefts that big barrel muff so we get good look at it.

The cherry on top of this is that not only is the quality amazing, but it’s not merely a fleeting glance. The courtroom sequence provides over 3 minutes of footage alone.

It’s followed by about 2 more, most with this shot as she’s riding home from the courtroom. Now, if I were to find fault with any of this, it’s that she spends the entire time in the backseat doing absolutely nothing with that cigarette holder in her hand.

She returns home where we meet her soon to be ex-orphan for a little heart-string tugging. This shot illustrates a point I made in an earlier update. The better the collar, the less of the head you can see from the back (or the side, for that matter).

There’s other fur in the film? Oh, right, yes, there is. Not that I think it matters at this point. There’s this probably mink item that I’ll call a wrap since “bib,” while seemingly more accurate, doesn’t sound all that fashionable.

For a film that starts out so spectacularly, it briefly descends into the depths of mediocrity with Constance Bennett in this most basic of full length mink coats. This fur is given all the screen time it deserves, which is: not much at all.

Finally, in what would have been a fur with a pretty decent collar in any other film but just ends up being an afterthought here, we see Virginia Hammond in this silver fox trimmed wrap.

It is a very nice, full-body trim, one that I might ordinarily lavish a bit more attention upon, but, really, you can just scroll up and call it even.

While the full Fur Ratio is 19%, and that’s pretty darn impressive, the only fur that really matters is actually on screen for a total of five and a half minutes. That makes the “Awesome Fur Ratio” about 6%, but that’s still not shabby. That five and a half minutes is filled with closeups that lavish the appropriate amount of attention on Constance and that amazing outfit.

Fur Runtime: approx 14 minutes
Film Runtime: 75 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 19%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film Rockabye

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

2010/08/15

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.

2010/07/25

Shirley MacLaine – What A Way To Go

Shirley Maclaine 1963

Originally uploaded by autumnsensation

Another 60’s entry that I forgot about, What a Way to Go!, and one that I haven’t seen recently, otherwise I’d post it. Though I have a really old version of this, I’d prefer to update with a better copy before inducting it here.

If you like the mink, (and at least it’s something other than brown) don’t get too attached, it appears for about 5 seconds total in a fantasy sequence in the film along with some other furs. The entire outfit would have been 5 stars if it were fox instead.

The real star of the film is the full length hot pink dyed fox coat that appears near the end of the movie. A favorite shade of mine. Miss MacLaine also wears a bit more conservative fox hat and trim combo for a nice long scene in the middle of the film.

2010/07/04

Furs on Film – Success at Any Price

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

Success at Any Price – The Film

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

Success at Any Price – The Furs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010/05/30

Furs on Film – Break of Hearts

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

Break of Hearts – The Film

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

Break of Hearts – The Furs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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