Posts tagged ‘sable’

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

2011/01/16

Furs on Film – Shanghai Express

So, everything is back to “normal,” which is to say all the reviews have been updated to replace the example shots and all the galleries have been returned. Wanted to get that out of the way before I went ahead with a new post. I haven’t done this since October, so I should probably start with an easy one without much personal significance so I picked… oh crap.

Shanghai Express – The Film

Yes, after months of my complaining, TCM ponied up with the Shanghai Express. This waste of Internet bandwidth pretty much is here again because they did. The story of the 1932 film is of a whimsical train ride through the Chinese countryside between Beijing and Shanghai. Among the notable passengers are “Shanghai Lily” (Dietrich) and Cpt. Harvey (Clive Brook) in addition to others, including an incognito rebel leader (Warner Oland) who eventually takes over the train to find a valuable hostage. Harvey and Lily are “old friends” whose career paths diverged a bit after they broke up five years ago. Harvey is a successful (and highly-ransomable) military surgeon on his way to perform a procedure on the Governor-General of Shanghai and Lily is a prosti- er “courtesan.”

Shanghai Express – The Furs

Actually mostly this film is about the camera making sweet, sweet love to Marlene Dietrich, as well it should. Actually, if you want to know more about the background to the film, check out this TCM Spotlight blog post on it. Lily’s obviously pretty good at her work, since she can afford a very nice wardrobe, which includes a couple of furs and a couple of “other.”

We’ll start with Lily’s “getting off the train” fur. It is thusly named because it is the fur she invariably takes with her anytime she leaves the train. It is a dark cloth coat with a very full silver fox collar. The sizable feathery hat is a one timer, though.

Chronologically this coat appears briefly first, then the “marquee” fur scene on the train appears, then it returns. I’m going to explore this fully instead of bouncing around. The cinematographer, Lee Garmes, should be congratulated for his work on both.

Some of the “iconic” shots of Dietrich come from this film, including this one, where, though it’s sadly hard to tell, she’s wearing the fox collar.

This is couple seconds later, a shot from the opposite angle where the size of the collar is very visible.

Another favorite of mine is in the film. Anna May Wong is Hui Fei, a friend and fellow courtesan who, as usual, is totally deprived of fur. Here Lily wears her silver fox while she talks Miss Wong’s character down from a rash course of action.

Building suspense… This isn’t fur, I know, and I don’t care, she looks amazing in it.

It appears in yet another iconic shot.

Here we are, the train sequence. On paper if you told me a scene featured a brown sable collar and cuff (singular), I’d probably not be too interested in watching it. Yet I will say this is probably one of the greatest fur fashion scenes of all time.

This is the scene where we learn the history of Lily and Captain Harvey, and where Dietrich’s, I believe the clinical term is “smoldering sexuality,” is not just on display, it’s burning through the screen.

There’s a catalog of closeups throughout, and I added way more than I probably should have to the full gallery.

We learn that Lily tested Harvey all those years ago and it didn’t go well. They start the process of kissing and making up.

All a deft move to borrow his hat and produce what I consider one of the most iconic images of Marlene Dietrich.

One of the important things to note as you’re watching this sequence is that her coat has only one cuff, the right.

The left is bare, yet as the sequence plays out, its hard to notice anything but Dietrich and the fur.

Sadly, all stupendously great things come to an end. Some needs to rediscover this “vertical collar” technology stat!

And that’s it. What would I improve? Well, sure, I could say that the train sequence would have been a little better had Dietrich been wearing Irene Dunne’s coat from The Awful Truth, but that almost seems a bit disingenuous. After all, part of the magic of the sequence is the fact that Dietrich and the cinematographer did so much with what, on paper, wasn’t all that great. The film as whole comes up well, with a solid 14% ratio that doesn’t even include that fancy feather number she wears at the beginning and end of the film.

Fur Runtime: approx 11 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 14%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film Shanghai Express

2010/09/12

Dietrich in Fur – Shanghai Express

Originally uploaded by shanghai ІiІy

Not sure I’ve mentioned this… oh, yes, I have… but I’m a big fan of this scene from Shanghai Express and continue to wait patiently for TCM to show the film, which used to air almost every freaking month, again.

Ironically this publicity shot provides a much clearer view of exactly how much fur “isn’t” there, whereas it’s almost impossible to tell from the way she was shot in the film itself.

Working on an actual update for next week.

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.

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

2009/11/21

Carole Lombard in Fur


Carole Lombard

Originally uploaded by Music2MyEars

Trying out Flickr’s “Blog This” capabilities. This is a very nice shot of Carole Lombard in what is most likely sable.

2008/09/08

Fur Super Star – Marlene Dietrich

I’d say I’m starting this series out on an easy one, but that’s the point. Marlene Dietrich is one of those figures who is quite clearly associated with furs. Her on screen fur wardrobe is stocked with classics.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. I’m concentrating on films I have clips from, and little else. I think it’s a bit disappointing to just write about something and not actually be able to show you.

Shanghai Express

Despite the fact that this is neither fox, nor all fur, it ranks as one of my favorite fur outfits of all time. The coat in this scene is virtually all collar and cuffs, which earns big bonus points. What further heightens the power of the scene is that, with the exception of the introductory shot, you’d never know it wasn’t full fur coat.

After Marlene approaches from the interior of the car, every subsequent shot of her is completely framed in fur. The massive size of the collar and cuffs of the coat make them the only parts visible in the scene. The added touch of appropriating the uniform hat of her old flame only further heightens the beauty of the shots.

This a prime example of a scene where the cinematographer knew exactly how screamingly hot Marlene Dietrich in furs truly was.

Pittsburgh

The white fox cape in Pittsburgh isn’t the only fur in the film, or even the only one Dietrich wears, but it’s the greatest. The runner up is a massive collared coat that I lack a decent still frame on. This massive white fox is an example of why I love the furs of 30’s Hollywood. This type of fox will show up a few more times in the posts like this come, trust me.

The huge fox is fully framed only briefly as they approach the door to the hero’s love pad and enter. The subsequent shots still make good use of Miss Dietrich, as they refrain from pulling in too tightly, allowing us to drink in a fuller view of her shoulders and chest, both beautifully framed in the gleaming white fox.

Oh, and she smokes, too. Once she makes it to the couch, the scene smoothly revolves around her lighting up, in fact.

Stage Fright

Someone apparently noticed Marlene Dietrich looks very good smoking in furs. Like Pittsburgh, this much shorter sequence involves Miss Dietrich lighting up, this time with a full bodied white fox stole on her shoulder.

This is a slightly more “mature” Dietrich, but she wears it better than many of her contemporaries did at the time.

Dietrich in London

It’s probably one of the more famous furs of all time. Marlene Dietrich is probably associated with furs more so because of this one mega-fur than any other reason. Compound that with the fact that shots from this concert performance are used a “B-reel” virtually any time she’s mentioned.

Not that I mind. That thing is amazing.

Full Gallery: Marlene Dietrich in Fur