Posts tagged ‘smoking in fur’

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

2011/04/10

Deitrich’s Fox Fur Trim

Imagine my surprise when a commenter suggested that one of my favorite fur film moments was not, in fact, fur at all. I speak of Shanghai Express.

This Is Not The Sable You Are Looking For

The fringe on the garment she wears in the “hat” sequence, which I had presumed was sable, is feathers, or rather down pelts, simliar to the ones that made up the also rather visually appealing white coat she wore in the Dietrich in London special. I see no reason to doubt this assertion, after all, it’s not like they were suggesting there was no fur at all, or that everything in The Mad Miss Manton was fake. No, actually quite reasonable now that I look at it again.

I’ll blame my sable dreams on a combination of low resolution and highly wishful thinking.

Ah, but someone didn’t desecrate her grave because Marlene Dietrich wore a lot of goose down. Thus, finding photos of her wearing real fur is not exactly difficult. What is always enjoyable is finding those few that just knock you off your feet when you see them for the first time. This is one such example:

MARLENE DIETRICH

So the Shanghai Express collar wasn’t sable. I’m pretty dang sure this is fur, so I’ll get over it by picturing this one instead.

2011/03/27

Elizabeth Taylor in Fur

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

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

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

Elizabeth Taylor

42-16655720

287

078

Elizabeth Taylor

256

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

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

2011/03/20

Furs on Film – Snapshot

How bout that Ozploitation flick? This one is fun for a few reasons (not to actually watch, mind you). It’s one of the first I’ve posted with a unique combination of multiple release titles and a severed pig’s head. TCM showed it as Snapshot, as that was the name it was released under in its country of origin, Australia. It can also be found under the title One More Minute (as in the IMDb), and also as The Day Before Halloween or The Night After Halloween, both a transparent attempt to capitalize on the recent success of Carpenter’s film in the states at the time.

Should note the quality of the caps is a little lower than I’d like. Amazingly, the version TCM showed was a 16:9 ‘zoom’ of a 4:3 pan-and-scan. Basically, you’re looking at the least amount of actual film possible, like seeing a movie through a keyhole.

Snapshot – The Film

Sigrid Thornton stars as Angela, a hairdresser who becomes friends with Madeline, an actress played by Chantal Contouri. Madeline convinces Angela to drop the hairdresser gig and become a model. On a shoot for a cologne ad we get to see both of Angela’s talents (this one is rated R, kids). Angela becomes the next big thing in Australian modeling, but she has some baggage with an ex boyfriend who follows her around in an ice cream truck and may or may not be trying to kill her. The ex isn’t the only suspect, and it wouldn’t be a “thriller” if he was. Madeline ends up liking Angela… a lot, (a lot, a lot), further mixing things up. Apparently there’s a twisty sort of ending, but I can’t be sure since Chantal wasn’t wearing any furs there so I wasn’t paying attention.

Snapshot – The Furs

Chantal Contouri as the actress / model who propels Angela into what passes for for the film’s plot also wears all the fur in the film. Not only that, but at least half time she’s wearing those furs she’s smoking as well.

Madeline and Angela meet at the hairdressers. Madeline enters in this so very 70’s horizontally striped red fox jacket.

Red fox was particularly popular in the 70’s it seems. Not my favorite natural shade (I prefer far more unnatural dyed shades of red), but Madeline has a couple in her fur wardrobe.

At the shoot, just before Angela and her chest meet the celluloid, Madeline gives her a little pep talk, like the concerned, supportive friend she is. This is her other major fur in the film, though again, hard to see thanks to the cut. I do enjoy the fact that she’s basically “popped the collar” here.

Here we are the club, a location with which viewers of the film will become quite familiar. The club scenes are a perfect illustration of why I take the time to edit clips in the first place, as otherwise they’d be unbearable. It’s here we find Madeline in her other red fox coat, in a long sequence that’s interrupted routinely by a horrible cabaret singer.

Smoking in her furs, Madeline watches Angela dancing in the club. The remainder of the sequence may be less-than-favorably be referred to as “filler,” but this is certainly my favorite kind.

After minutes of casual, detached smoking, Madeline intervenes when it appears Angela has met a new male friend, seriously inhibiting the rest of his evening. There may be subtext to this, but it’s totally lost on me.

Leaving the club, we see this is full length red fox coat, unlike the one from earlier in the film.

After more of the things that pass for events in this film happen, we find ourselves back at the club. Madeline finds Angela again, striding through the collected patrons in a long white mink coat with a cigarette holder perched high in her right hand. I like where Madeline is going with her fashion choices.

The cinematographer and the broadcast display issues contrive to make this more difficult than it should be, but we do get half a closeup of Madeline smoking with her cigarette holder in the white mink. This one was all too short.

If you were hoping to get a better view of the ‘pep-talk’ fur from earlier, here it is. This walk and talk gives a good chance to take in the fur, which I’ve studiously avoided naming because I’m not entirely sure what it is. Opinions are welcome.

Brief closeup of Chantal Contouri’s character framed with the large collar.

Back at the club… again, with Madeline smoking in the same fur coat, this time mostly in a background shot.

Finally we see the same fur one last time as Angela visits Madeline on the set, finding her relaxed with her fur and, yes, smoking once more. Seriously, even I have to say you should probably cut back a bit Maddy.

Yet another little obscure fur fashion gem that TCM aired, along the lines of Darktown Stutters. Granted, I doubt they were airing it because of the furs. Great examples of 70’s furs in this, and yes, I admit Madeline’s bad habit is one I enjoy viewing, from a distance, at least. Since there’s still no 70’s or 80’s nostalgia channels yet, can’t pass up the opportunity to post these when I find them. The ratio isn’t particularly great, but the quality definitely makes up for it.

Fur Runtime: approx 9 minutes
Film Runtime: 92 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1979 film Snapshot

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

2010/09/19

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

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.

2010/03/28

Furs on Film – Broadway Melody of 1936

Broadway’s been around longer than the movies, and Hollywood really liked movies about Broadway. Not quite so much today, but in the 30’s, it was “sure-fire hit” material, it seems. Or it was a really easy way to make a musical, same thing.

Broadway Melody of 1936 – The Film

Eleanor Powell’s first staring role, Broadway Melody of 1936 was a non-sequel to an early film named The Broadway Melody from 1929. In it, Eleanor plays Irene Foster, who’s looking to make it big on Broadway and auditioning for her former childhood sweetheart’s latest Broadway show. Said sweetheart, Robert Gordon (Robert Taylor), doesn’t remember her and brushes her off. He has problems of his own with columnist Bert Keeler (Jack Benny) who is running a campaign against the new musical. When Bert makes up a famous French singing sensation named Mlle. La Belle Arlette, Irene assumes her identity in order to get into the show. This is taking too long, on with the furs…

Broadway Melody of 1936 – The Furs

There are 3 people wearing furs in this film. Julie Knight, Elanor Powell, and… Sid Silvers. More on the latter momentarily.

Robert’s show is bankrolled by Lillian Brent, played by Julie Knight, here appearing a in a fur stole to kick things off.

Lillian wants to star in the show, but has given Robert 2 weeks to find a big star for the production. If he can’t, she’ll take the lead roll. Here she’s back in a very full silver fox wrap.

There’s a brief musical interlude before we return to Lillian and Robert, where the last part of their conversation is accompanied by Lillian smoking with a short cigarette holder while wearing the silver fox wrap.

Okay, so, as part of the general shenanigans with Bert Keeler’s fake French singer, he has his assistant “Snoop”, played by Sid Silvers, dress up in drag. The drag is this rather nice fox trimmed dress, sporting a big collar and cuffs. I simply couldn’t ignore it.

It should be noted that, while some men are blessed with the facial features to pull this off brilliantly, sadly Sid is not among them. I suppose it’s a credit to the Hollywood makeup department that it turned out as well as it did.

Eleanor eventually “impersonates” the fake French singer in order to get into the play, and what do successful French singers wear? Giant fox trimmed fur wraps, of course.

This beauty sports a lovely collar, and we get ample closeups of Miss Powell’s face framed with the thick fox fur.

Thankfully, this wrap is given the screen time it so richly deserves, including this perfect wider shot.

There is that pointless little strip of fabric on the back, but I suppose I can overlook it. Why they didn’t just toss on the extra couple inches worth of fox is a mystery.

The wrap here is probably a “Top 5 Fur Wraps of All Time” contender, and it’s nice there’s some other furs in the film as well. Works out to a good ratio, though if you’re going to be picky and exclude Sid’s little slice of the pie it’s more like 7%. I generally don’t count anything with a Y chromosome… unless they’re very accomplished at disguising it.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 101 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1935 film Broadway Melody of 1936.

2010/01/24

Furs on Film – Baby Face

Today we look at one of the more famous films I’ve profiled, while mostly ignoring everything that made it famous. We’re going to look at (the furs in) the 1933 film Baby Face, staring Barbara Stanwyck. Yes, Miss Stanwyck’s career highlight may not be until 1938, but she was no slouch in the fur wearing department in the years leading up to it. The film itself is notable as one of the more “infamous” “pre Code” films, and one of the reasons said Code exists.

Baby Face – The Film

Why did said Code exist? Because people couldn’t handle a chick sleeping her way to the top, that’s why. Yes, in this film Barbara Stanwyck stars as Lily Powers, a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. And get it, she does, always off screen and totally implied. This is still 1933, when the mere idea of a female sexual predator was enough to give fine, upstanding people tha vapors! Lily climbs the corporate ladder, leaving behind broken boyfriends in a heap along the way, until she reaches the president of Gotham Trust and thinks her life of luxury is assured. Things actually do work out in the end, but only because the New York State Censorship Board (at least they were really up front with the name) strongly implied the film would never see the light of day if she didn’t.

Baby Face – The Furs

Unlike the scorecard required to keep track of The Mad Miss Manton, this film is almost all Stanwyck all the time. Lily doesn’t sleep her way to the top to dress like a hobo, after all. She’s stuffing the closet with furs, and presumably other expensive clothes and jewelery which I care much less about. Really, shiny rocks? What’s up with that?

Obviously Lily has made it a few floors out of the basement of Gotham Trust by the time she walks on screen in this thickly trimmed cape and muff combo.

Along the way she’s taken her friend, Chico (yes, I said Chico), played by Theresa Harris, and kept her on as a rather well paid maid, as you can tell from the white fox muff and stole.

This is a fairly long sequence leading to a meeting with one her mid-range boyfriends. We get to enjoy the cape from all angles.

This is the boyfriend du jour, things don’t work out well for him. Granted, this can be said of pretty much all of them.

Later, and further up the food chain, Lily is in Paris and hooks up with the new bank president. She had now mounted the top rung of the corporate ladder… so to speak. Here Barbara Stanwyck lounges, face wreathed by silver fox, a object of raw cinematic desire.

We see a bit more of it before this shorter sequence ends, revealing the collar to be even larger than previously seen.

As you may imagine, things aren’t quite wine and roses from that point on, and the bank president has some problems of his own, some of which have to do with the fact that his new girlfriend is kinda a tramp. In a lengthy sequence at the end of the film, Lily wears this full length chinchilla the entire time.

Barbara Stanwyck has a brief smoking shot while wearing the big fur coat.

This is a hefty chinchilla, judging by the size of the collar, which wraps around the back, almost as if it were an unused hood.

Sadly, Lily’s main squeeze bank president meets an untimely end, and the results of all her dirty machinations crash down around her.

But wait! There’s more! He really doesn’t die and it turns out Lily renounces her man hating ways and decides to settle down and live happily ever after with him!

On the one hand, the tacked-on ending designed to get past the New York State Censorship Board is pretty much a substantial betrayal of everything the film was to that point. On the other hand… there’s like another full minute of Barbara Stanwyck in a full length chinchilla coat… So, I’m calling it even.

Baby Face joins a strong second tier of Stanwyck films with great furs. While not everything she did is worthy of inclusion on its own, this one and a few others are, such as Breakfast for Two and Lady of Burlesque. The ratio is fairly solid, a good 8 minutes of fur in a film that ran a little long for the time and was from the early 30’s as well. The film was Warner Bros. response to the film Red Headed Woman, staring Jean Harlow and also notable for the fur fashions within.

Fur Runtime: approx 8 minutes
Film Runtime: 71 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1933 film Baby Face

2009/11/08

Furs in Film – The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt

While the Thin Man series of films is ripe for inclusion on this site, the genre of “gentleman detective” was certainly not the lone province of William Powell and crew. The Lone Wolf was another, this one a jewel thief named Mike Lanyard who was featured in upwards of 20 pictures, a lot more than Nick and Nora. This incarnation was portrayed by Warren William, doing a good William Powell impression, and was released in the magical year of 1939.

The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt – The Film

The Lone Wolf, debonair jewel thief, has quit his jewel thieving ways and is settling down with girlfriend Val Carson and daughter Patrica. A gang of spies looking to swipe some plans for a new piece of anti-aircraft artillery frame The Lone Wolf for a theft in order to blackmail him into helping them. With the police aware of his past and unwilling to help, The Lone Wolf takes on the spy gang with Val’s mostly unwanted assistance. Despite having Rita Hayworth on their side, The Lone Wolf foils their plans and sends them all to the slammer.

The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt – The Furs

It’s 1939 and this is a “gentleman’s detective” film, which means it’s only slightly less likely to have amazing furs than a “madcap heiress” film. It is certainly no disappointment in that regard, as we have both Ida Lupino and a very young, pre-super-stardom Rita Hayworth in large fox coats. Ida spends most of the film in one of 2 furs, while Rita similarly, is rarely out of fur herself between a full length mink and large black fox that befits her stature as main squeeze of the spy ring leader.

This is Val Carson, Mike Lanyard’s girlfriend who supplies much of the film’s comedy. Played by a barely over 20 Ida Lupino, she spends a great deal of time in this silver fox trimmed jacket. Though not visible in this shot, a silver fox muff accompanies it usually.

There’s the muff, a lovely combination with the hat and most likely a silk blouse.

And here is Karen, played by Rita Hayworth, also barely over 20 and looking very refined in this full length short-haired coat as she prepares to crash a date between Mike and Val.

Crash she does, as Miss Lupino’s expression indicates how overjoyed she is this development.

Throughout the film Ida Lupino’s expressive face is one of the highlights, and here it is surrounded by silver fox fur.

Ida and Rita are not the only ones in fur in the film. This is Helen Lynd, playing a prospective buyer for The Lone Wolf’s completely legitimate antique business, who must deal with Val Caron’s jealous streak over her boyfriend.

Really jealous… Though perhaps not obvious from the stills, the scene is rather amusing and showcases Miss Lupio’s comic chops. Unfortunately one of the few scenes in the film where she’s not wearing fur.

Somewhere around act 3, both Ida and Rita step up the fur quality, with Miss Lupino winning handily in this white fox coat.

Briefly seen holding a cigarette in this sequence, though not actually smoking, the white fox is a classic example of the period, full, but lacking any sort of collar or cuffs, cape-like.

Not to be completely outdone, Rita and the gang show up to help her show off her black fox stroller coat. No doubt it’s black because she’s the bad girl in this flick, accented by her veiled black hat over her dark brunette locks.

To drive that point home, she and Ida share the screen, good girl in white fox, bad girl in black fox, the way the universe intended it should be.

Like Ida earlier, Rita briefly holds a cigarette but never actually does much smoking.

One more shot of the 2 together briefly, because two great foxes are always better than one.

Finally, one of the best shots of Ida Lupino’s white fox coat occurs just before “THE END”, here at the police station after The Lone Wolf’s been hauled away as his chip-off-the-ole-block daughter presents the keys to his cell.

Though certainly not the only reason this film deserves mention, it is great film for those interested in “fur runtime”. Not quite a Forever Lulu, but you certainly won’t fall asleep waiting for the next fur to show up (and hang around). In honor of The Green Fairy’s suggestion, I’ll post some “box stats” for each film from now on so people know roughly how long you’ll be enjoying fur on screen in the films I post. The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt definitely clocks into the top 3 at this point.

Fur Runtime: approx 20 minutes
Film Runtime: 71 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 28%

The Fur Fashions of the The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt Full Gallery