Posts tagged ‘silver fox’

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

2011/06/05

Furs on Film – I’ll Take Romance

Hey, I should post one of these “review” things… Admittedly the allure of just tossing out something I find on Flickr each week is pretty strong, but this is what I’m “supposed” to be doing, after all. This entry is from the late 30’s, that most special of times, and this film is another fine example of why.

I’ll Take Romance – The Film

This film is based around the romance of kidnapping. Just one of the many felonies made attractive by Hollywood’s lighthearted romantic comedies over the years. Fonts of juvenile delinquency worse than comic books, they are. Elsa Terry (Grace Moore), budding opera singer, is contracted to do a show in Buenos Aires, but isn’t going thanks to a better offer in Paris. James Guthrie (Melvyn Douglas), responsible for getting her to the Buenos Aires show, meets and ends up romancing her, but she still refuses to go. Elsa enjoys his company and, forewarned, plays along when Guthrie puts her on the “wrong” ship. That’s only the fake kidnapping in the film, there’s more real ones later. Lighthearted-romantic-comedy-immunity applies, though, and everyone lives happily ever after, instead of, you know, in a supermax facility.

I’ll Take Romance – The Furs

More Broadway divas in fur here, as actual-Broadway-turned-Hollywood star Grace Moore does almost all of the fur wearing, and all of it you’d want to see. Grace’s character has an “aunt,” you see, the kind scraped up from the leftovers of Marie Dressler’s fat and wrinkles (Helen Westley), who disgraces a silver fox fur for a mercifully brief few seconds early in the film.

Elsa’s first fur is not only refreshingly unique, but given quite a bit of screen time.

The silver fox fur trim on this dress is thick and heavy, just the way I like it.

One might say the 80’s big shoulder craze had nothing on this.

How you really boost your on-screen fur time? Easy, if you’re a musical, you do a number.

Elsa sings wearing the silver fox, accumulating an impressive seven minutes and some change in the big fur trimmed dress.

This next one is kind of tricky, because, while it suggests that it is pretty impressive, the age old quandary of black fox at night rears its… well, not exactly ugly… mostly just “hard to make out” head.

Most of the time she’s wearing this it’s in the dark backseat of a cab or on the equally dark deck of the ship. However, very briefly, she enters her stateroom and we get a better idea how nice it is.

Sadly this is a very short scene, but it does look rather nice for these few seconds we can actually make it out.

To the marquee fur, a white fox cape, as usual. Also a pretty good example of why white fox should always be your “go-to” choice for evening fur filming. Because… you can see it.

And this one is, like most from this period, rather hard to miss.

Melvyn’s getting himself a handful. Easy there, cowboy.

This is a good sequence, giving up almost 3 minutes of white fox goodness. Sadly, Melvyn’s also in frame the entire time.

The film doesn’t stop there, providing this shorter tidbit on the dock where Grace appears in a coat with a large fur collar.

This is fairly short, and while a very nice collar, it’s not a particular loss that we don’t see it for very long.

To cover absolutely everything, there is another sequence near the end where Grace wears a different fur trimmed dress, but there’s not much fur and it’s very hard to see. Hard to film black fur even in the daytime. Even without this sequence the ratio clocks in at an impressive 16%, so there’s no reason to pad the totals with it. The white fox cape is virtually definitive of the period, and makes the film worth a look all by itself.

Fur Runtime: approx 14 minutes
Film Runtime: 85 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 16%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1937 film I’ll Take Romance

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

2011/01/30

Furs on Film – Father Takes a Wife

Back to my favorite part of the 1940’s, the bit where costume designers didn’t get the memo about how “fur is boring this decade.” Father Takes a Wife is from 1941, and falls into that period quite nicely. This was Gloria Swanson’s last film before a nine year hiatus that would eventually lead to her “comeback” role in Sunset Blvd. This was Swanson at 42, and while not quite the young hottie from her silent film days, she still cuts an impressive figure.

Father Takes a Wife – The Film

While I can’t really call this a divorce film, the plot veers close to it. Fred “Senior” Osborne (Adolphe Menjou), a shipping magnate, decides abruptly to get married to actress Leslie Collier (Swanson) and turn the company over his son, Junior. Don’t really get a lot of films about shipping magnates these days. The marriage is a little rocky as Senior turns out to be the jealous sort, and things don’t get easier when he invites a stowaway Latin singer they met on their honeymoon home with them. Hey, that’s what anyone would have done…

Father Takes a Wife – The Furs

As a successful actress and soon to be trophy wife, Leslie has quite the wardrobe. Swanson’s Wikipedia entry suggests her early history in silent film was as the first “clothes horse,” a tradition this film attempts to continue.

In a shot as brief as the fur deserves, Leslie heads off to her farewell performance in this 40’s mink. Thankfully it’s around for only about 5 seconds.

That farewell performance is apparently set in a cold place, as her stage outfit includes… this. Now, I don’t know what ‘this’ is, but I do know I like ‘this’.

Gloria Swanson putting on a muff that matches the coat and hat. That is all.

What’s odd about this fur is that I can’t recall seeing anything like it anywhere else. It’s like a mutant fox with extremely long black guard hairs.

We see it on stage in a very brief, very wide shot before she takes it off, leaving only the hat.

Which gets a close up, again, not really suggesting what kind of fur it is. I’m sure someone knows and may help us all out in the comments section. Or everyone will just skip reading all this noise and go right to the gallery page, which my analytics suggests is, in fact, the case.

Intercut with the final performance we see in the audience Leslie’s new family on her husband’s side, including Junior’s wife, Enid (Florence Rice), wearing a white fox fur wrap that is given the attention it deserves after the show.

Enid and Leslie smile at one another. The mystery fur is in the background.

This sequence could be a little longer, but the shots of the white fox are well done.

Returning from the honeymoon cruise, stowaway in tow, Leslie has a large dark fur coat.

This one is also a little quick, and not as well shot as should have been.

There’s a decent but quick full view as they all return home. The coloring in the sleeve suggests it may be fox, but can’t be 100% sure.

After the aforementioned stowaway gets kicked out of the aforementioned home, he shacks up with Junior and wife Enid. Enid takes him in wearing this very full fox jacket.

Not a common length for the time, but well done, and well shot.

If the stowaway is looking vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s Ricky Ricardo, er… Desi Arnaz in an early film role.

This one is a little short in the runtime department, but has a very nice variety of furs. Definitely could have used some rewrites to keep them in frame a little longer, but considering it was 1941, getting this many was amazing enough. There’s a couple more foxes on the character of “Aunt Julie” played by Helen Broderick, who wasn’t quite up to making the cut in the “looking at for any extended period of time” department. Still, they wouldn’t have done much to pad the runtime, and one of them was that standard 30’s silver fox stole I already dislike. I suppose pairing the two makes sense now.

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 79 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 8%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1941 film Father Takes a Wife

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

2010/10/10

Furs on Film – Love Is A Headache

And we’re back.

When I find out who the “we” is in this one man operation, I’ll be sure to fire them.

We return with another of the increasingly rare gems that TCM has seen fit to dole out from that most halcyon of fur fashion years, 1938. This is nice film about a Broadway star named Charlie that had the potential to be something of an all time classic, but they botched it in the end, literally.

Love Is A Headache – The Film

Fortunately, “Charlie” is short for Carlotta, last name Lee, a star of the Broadway stage whose latest production did not fare so well. She’s getting blasted by Peter Lawrence, a newspaper columnist who is, of course, secretly in love with her and is only trying to help. Her publicist, Jimmy Slattery, decides a publicity stunt is needed, so he arranges for her to adopt a couple of kids, for which the casting call no doubt used the term “precocious.” While this doesn’t speak highly of New York City’s adoption agencies circa 1938, “Charlie” gets the kids, and winds up liking the heck out of them, while eventually getting married to Peter. You’d think this was written in Hollywood or something.

Love Is A Headache – The Furs

With one notable exception Gladys George, as “Charlie,” does all the fur wearing work in this film. Personally I’d suggest today’s ladies of Broadway could take a lesson or two from her sense of style.

First up is that exception I noted 2 sentences ago. This would be Fay Holden, playing a bit role where she visits Peter Lawrence (Franchot Tone) to get some better press in his column wearing this enormous fox fur collar. Sadly, this is the fur we see the least of in the entire film, but it is well shot for the time it does appear on screen.

Gladys, as “Charlie”, who is referred to as that throughout the film, much to everyone’s dismay- Look, you’re a girl, use a girl name. If you just dress up like girl, have a girl name. I’m looking at you, Jeffree- Ahem, rant over, back to the update. Gladys, who will be Gladys from this point forward, appears first in this silver fox cape.

Pre-adoption, Gladys is wooed by millionaire Reggie O’Dell (Ralph Morgan, who, if he looks familiar, sounds familiar, and has a familiar last name, is because he’s Frank Morgan’s brother, he’s Frank Morgan lite).

Gladys moves fluidly between the silver fox and her next fur, one I thought was just black fox, but later, in different lighting, suggests it’s something else. The top guard hairs of the fur muff that complement the large collar are just visible at the bottom.

Good close up of Gladys in her fur collar.

Here’s where the lights catch the “not-black” parts of the fur collar, also you can see a better view of the muff. It is visible in a few shots, but mostly wide ones when she’s moving around. Those make for bad stills.

Next up, white fox cape, of the sort very common to 1938, though this one is not the full ankle-length version that we’re used to. Still, a fine addition to the film’s wardrobe.

This cape and the next outfit make up the bulk of the film’s fur runtime (again, there’s another notable exception here). A worthy way to spend your fur gazing time.

Next up is the fox trimmed dress, the (best) fur that takes up the longest amount of screen time. You can see the muff/purse accessory in this shot.

As Gladys spends nearly five minutes in this outfit alone, you get a lot of nice shots of it, including closeups like this.

Also nice upper body framed shots like this one. My only quibble… needed a bigger collar, and cuffs…

So that’s the end of the film as I’d prefer to see it. If you’re interested in being picky, there’s another fur in the film, one that Gladys wears for what constitutes much of the last act. Sadly, that fur is a rather distressed looking mink, muskrat, or some equally unappealing drab brown stole with, you guessed, a bunch of little rodent heads hanging off it. Honestly, to this point the film had been destined for greatness, and then to wrap on that fur, it was a serious disappointment. So, my runtime figures don’t include it. If they did, it would be more like 20-25%. If they’d only swapped that ratty piece and the one by Fay Holden in the beginning, this film would easily be a hall of fame contender.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 73 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 16%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1938 film Love Is A Headache.

2010/09/19

Furs on Television – Deceptions

When TCM gives you lemons, you find an alternate source of lemonade. Thanks to an associate of mine for providing the “raw material” for this one. In my defense, I actually have a copy of Deceptions from years back, when it was a bit of fluffy filler on the Encore network. Cap quality wasn’t quite so good back then. Hey, if it was, I’d be posting all those Dynasty caps I have… A first here, too, as Deceptions is my first TV miniseries induction. Oh yeah… all those Lace caps I have suck too, sorry.

Deceptions – The Miniseries

I’m a little fuzzy on the details for a variety of reasons, and this little trip down 80’s nostalgia lane isn’t exceptionally well known. Hell, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. This is a dual twin role, trading places, spring-for-split-screen-maybe-once-or-twice story, where Stephanie Powers does what she did very well in the 80’s, wear large fox furs. Oh, and play twin sisters Sabrina Longworth & Stephanie Roberts, one a boring housewife, the other a jet-setting London dwelling rich girl. They have the amazingly original idea to trade lives, and comedic hi-jinks ensue, like kidnapping at gunpoint.

Deceptions – The Furs

One twin is a rich 80’s girl, what more do I need to say about the contents of her closet? Not much, because we actually see the contents of her closet in one scene. Since lives are traded, it’s really the housewife that’s wearing most of the furs, but let’s just say it’s Stephanie Powers and be done with it.

Staring slow, the ennui of the jet-setting Sabrina (you could guess she was the rich, interesting one, because she had the cooler name) limos to her London mansion in this coat. It’s a black fur at night, which may in fact be a very good fashion choice, but it is pretty much the worst choice if you’re actually filming it. Light falls on it briefly when she goes inside.

The sisters meet up in Venice to celebrate their birthday. Sabrina brings her marquee fur to the party, a full length, white fox trimmed sheared cross fox coat. Now, this coat conflicts me, yes, it’s fox, but the shearing bugs me. On the other hand, the shearing does accentuate the white fox collar and cuffs. Oh, and she’s smoking while wearing it.

The plan is hatched and the sisters separate, “Stephanie” taking up Sabrina’s life, and furs, and heading back to London wearing the full length fox coat.

To revisit the black fur at night issue, as we see in Stephanie’s close up, this coat works much better in the dark. It’s far more visible than Stephanie’s classic 80’s bouffant, and that’s saying a lot.

Returning to the mansion, Stephanie settles in, falling to the bed in her full length fox coat to check out her view in the overhead mirror.

I mentioned the closet earlier. Here it is. I’d almost say it’s disappointing in a way. Only 3 full length 80’s mega furs? They could have done better than that.

Injecting a little more variety to the program, the next fur is this silver fox vest/jacket. It’s a bit more “sporty” that way, but I’ll completely shock you and say I’d have preferred the entire thing be silver fox.

I grant, it’s hard to make fox look sporty, and I’d argue that’s part of the charm.

Next up is probably my favorite from the film. Sadly, it’s not given the lavish attention of the marquee cross fox coat. This huge black fox wrap simply overflows all around Miss Powers.

Most the shots don’t give it the credit it deserves, and things are further complicated by the fact that this is the scene where Stephanie’s relationship with Sabrina’s British boyfriend get’s a little “complicated.” By which I mean, it involves attempted asphyxiation.

In an effort to bring down the mean British guy, Stephanie breaks out the full length cross fox coat again in the lengthy climax of the entire miniseries.

The moral of this story? British guys are mean to attractive American women in large fox coats. For shame… for shame….

Don’t worry, Stephanie’s amazingly well groomed husband shows up to sort of save the day. In fact, the climax of the film has a bit in common with The Mad Miss Manton, as they both involve the principle bad guy getting offed by a plot irrelevant police sniper.

Being a miniseries, there’s a lot of runtime to kill, so the ratio is kind of slim. Still, even 6% nets you like 12 minutes of 80’s fox goodness. Deceptions is pretty much a poster child for 80’s fur fashion, and possibly 80’s fashion in general, I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t paying attention to anything else. While I still ultimately rank the 30’s as the better decade overall, 80’s is a close second, and, without a doubt, the reason this blog exists today.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 185-ish minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 6%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1985 Television Miniseries Deceptions