Saturday, November 27, 2021

Bette's Hats & Reviews: The Cabin in the Cotton (1932)

Bette's next film, The Cabin in the Cotton (1932), has one of her many memorable lines, and one of the stars personal favorites. The experience, however, was an unpleasant one - she did not get along with director Michael Curtiz, who made it well known he did not want her in the picture - but the part, an "excellent part, mine - that of a rich, vixenish belle" was her "best role to date." Davis wrote in her book The Lonely Life, "I refused to let him [Curtiz] get me down. The part was that good" (134-135). 

It looks like the critics agreed that the part was good, and that Bette was the reason:

Miss Davis shows a surprising vivacity as the seductive rich girl.

 ~ Richard Watts Jr., New York Herald Tribune

Windy film material, but it is [...] strengthened mightily by [...] that flashy, luminous newcomer Bette Davis, who romps off with first honors, for hers is the most dashing and colorful role. . . . The girl is superb.

 ~ Regina Crewe, New York American

Isn't this dress gorgeous? Here's a lovely promotional photo of it. It looks like she has a different hat though.  

I must have gotten my screenshots off of YouTube. As you can see, they are not the best quality. The photo on the right came from the Gene Ringgold gold listed below.


Davis, Bette. The Lonely Life: An Autobiography. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1962.
Ringgold, Gene. Bette Davis: Her Films and Career. Citadel Press. 1966, 1985.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Cinema Wedding Gowns: Born to Kill (1947)

I figured for Noirvember we needed a Noir wedding gown ;)

This lavish home wedding hides a secret - the groom (Lawrence Tierney) is in love with the wealthy bride's (Audrey Long) penniless sister (Claire Trevor). 

The dominate feature of this gown is its half circles that appear to be thick piping. They are everywhere on the dress. Above you see a fully lined, fitted bodice with small buttons up the front and diaphanous sleeves with the padded shoulder so typical of the 1940s. The large rounded neckline is edges with the piping loops. A simple strand of pearls graces the throat. The veil, which looks a little like a nurse cap, is also trimmed that way, with the center loop being pointed. 

In this shot we see how the tulle of the veil is attached to the headpiece. Note the loops adorning the wrist. 

A giant sash is draped around the waist of the floor-length gown. Here you can see the sleeves are gathered and puffed to the elbow - with the loop trim inside - where they become fitted to the wrist. The veil appears to be at least floor-length. 

The sash is completely trimmed with the loops. As you can see, the bow is extremely large and ends hang far down the back of the dress. You can see the loops in the sheer sleeves well in these shots.

Here is Clair Trevor as the bride's sister and Maid-of-Honor. Like the bridal gown, it too has a large rounded neckline, padded shoulders, and long sleeves, but here the similarities end. There is pleating at the neckline for a perfect fit. The bodice is decorated with sequins or beads. Her elbow-length veil sits atop a crown-shaped hat, also sparling. 

The sleeves are looser at the top and fitted at the wrist. The full tulle skirt ends at the calf. A glittering necklace and large round earrings complete the look. I wonder what color it was?

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Bette's Hats & Reviews: The Dark Horse (1932)

"What can I possibly say about this movie..."

Bette Davis' tenth film, The Dark Horse (1932) with Warren William, didn't get a mention in either of her books, The Lonely Life or This 'n That

Bette wears five hats in the film. I also noticed that all of the costumes pictured here have draped and/or flowy bow-tied necklines


The New York Times
Miss Davis gives a splendid performance.


September 1932 Picture Play Magazine
The secretary is "competently played by Bette Davis."


From the April 1932 Photoplay (page 19). Not about the movie but I thought it was fun. It's right under what Doug Fairbanks Jr. and his wife Joan Crawford eat ;)
Bette Davis certainly is no help to the collector of breakfast recipes. Her sole fare consists of a glass of orange juice, one slice of either raisin or bran bread, toasted; prunes and a cup of black coffee!

Hat 4

I like this description of Bette's performance from this article by Jay Carr on the TCM website:
You can accomplish a lot with Bette Davis on your side. Doffing the cloche hat we first see her in, she's a smart cookie beneath her blond marcelled hairdo. If William is the mouthpiece of the duo, he's as naïve in his way as Kibbee's buffoonish pol. She's the brains of the outfit. Here, her savvy but straight-shooting working girl never does anything impulsively. We're aware that even at this early stage of her career, she's well aware that in film a lot of acting is reacting. In scene after scene, we see her take in new information, shrewdly evaluate it, then figure out the right next move. Those big eyes filled with skepticism convince us utterly that she really cares. She's fully engaged, fully in the moment. At the end, when they fall into the obligatory clinch, the film deflates into one of those you're-a-big-lug-but-I-love-you-anyway-and-I'll-keep-going-with-you moments. You can't help believing that this tough cookie would know better. Whenever they share a scene, William is wood, Davis is fire. Her way of getting her smart-guy boyfriend out of jam after jam is awfully sexy. It, and its surprising political relevance, make The Dark Horse seem still larky today.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Royal Film Performance Series: Where No Vultures Fly (1951)

The evening of November 15, 1951 was, as seemed usual for a Royal Command Film Performance, cold and rainy. The choice of film for the sixth RCFP annual event was the British film Where No Vultures Fly, starring Anthony Steel, Dinah Sheridan, and Harold Warrender and filmed on location in Africa. It was a surprising choice but prompted from the controversy of the previous years' film, which had an American star, Irene Dunne, playing Queen Victoria.

Excerpt of a poster for the film.

Here was the leading lady's reaction when she heard the news that her film was to be screened by royalty:

King George VI was too ill to attend. A copy of the film was sent to Buckingham Palace for him to view in private.

We get to hear some of them speak in this one!!

The arrival of Jane Russell at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square made the biggest splash and her scarlet velvet gown was "voted one of the evening's most striking outfits."

Russell wrote about the experience in her autobiography, My Paths and My Detours:
I received an invitation to a Command Performance to be held in London for King George and the royal family. I was thrilled. It promised to be a marvelous experience, plus it would be a great chance for me to look for a baby boy [Russell was trying to adopt an older brother for her infant daughter Tracy]

I asked Mother if she'd like to come along, and she was thrilled. Robert [her husband] wouldn't come, since football season was with us once more. Michael Woulfe started designing two dresses. The first dress was to be worn when were presented to the royal family. I said, "Everyone wears white, not I." I wanted ruby red velvet a la Wuthering Heights or Rebecca with a low bodice trimmed in mink. 

Here is a description of the second dress:

Russell continues:
All the gang was thrilled I was going to do a Command Performance, now called the Royal Film Performance. As we were all sitting by the pool one Sunday afternoon, I was full of myself telling them about the gowns Michael was having whipped up for when I met their majesties. Robert quietly said, "Honey, please don't say 'sh*t' to the queen." We broke up.

When we got to London, the first thing Mother did was send a cable to my brother Tom that read, "Have arrived safely in London. God save the King!" Tom's return message to her was typical of him. It read, "God HELP the King, YOU will save him."

Rehearsals for the Royal Film Performance were starting soon... the previous day England had held her national elections and Winston Churchill had become prime minister again. On the front pages of the newspapers two large photos appeared side by side: Churchill and me. Over mine were the words "MISS RUSSELL IN LONDON TO ADOPT BABY BOY."

Finally, the big night itself:

We stood in a long line at the theater, all dressed up, to meet the king and queen... King George was ill and couldn't come. The queen was truly dear, though, sweet and unassuming. She had something to say to each one of us. She told me she had enjoyed my pictures with Bob Hope. The princesses [Princess Elizabeth was in Malta] seemed shy and were very pretty. 

The show was successful and there was a grand party afterward, but my throat was sore. The next morning I awoke with strep throat.  

Other stars in attendance were Peggy Cummins, Dan Duryea, Peter Lawford, Fred MacMurray, Merle Oberon, Margaret Rutherford, Scott, Zachary Scott, Orson Welles and Michael Wilding. Van Johnson wore his famous red socks and when he was presented to the royals [the book says "the future queen" meaning Princess Elizabeth, but she was in Malta with Prince Philip. I presume he meant Princess Margaret] she immediately looked down at his feet. "I just like red" he told her (Van Johnson, MGM's Golden Boy. Ronald L. Davis).

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were accompanied by the Duchess of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester.

This article from The Australian Women's Weekly gives us some insight into the evening. Sounds like one interesting evening!

The Queen and Princess with their bouquets. Source.

Davis, Ronald L. Van Johnson: MGM's Golden Boy. University Press of Mississippi. 2001.
Russell, Jane. Jane Russell: An Autobiography, My Paths and My Detours. A Jove Book. 1985. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Movies I Watched in October

For Those Who Think Young (1964)

This month I finally read Myrna Loy's autobiography Being and Becoming. I had checked it out from the library in 2018 and used it for a post on Jean Harlow but ran out of time to read it (I tend to check out too many books than wait until a couple days before they're due to start them). It was so good! They are re-releasing it in paperback soon (or already have). I also read William Powell: The Life and Films by Roger Bryant.

I started my third rewatch of Downton Abbey. I was in the mood for something 1920s. I dog-sat for my cousin. She had Disney+ and Paramount+ so I was able to watch some different things. Notice how I ended up watching at least one movie from every decade from the 1920s to the 2020s :)

* indicates a rewatch

  1. Piccadilly (1929) - Anna May Wong
  2. The Purchase Price (1932) - George Brent & Barbara Stanwyck 
  3. *Wise Girl (1937) - Miriam Hopkins & Ray Milland
  4. Beauty for the Asking (1939) - Lucille Ball, Patric Knowles, Donald Woods, Frieda Inescort
  5. *Virginia City (1940) - Miriam Hopkins, Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott, Alan Hale, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams
  6. Ladies Must Live (1940) - Wayne Morris & Rosemary Lane, Roscoe Karns & Lee Patrick, George Reeves, William Hopper
  7. I’ll Wait for You (1941) - Robert Sterling & Marsha Hunt, Virginia Weidler, Paul Kelly, Henry Travers, Fay Holden 
  8. Strange Affair (1944) - Allyn Joslyn & Evelyn Keyes
  9. Objective, Burma! (1945) - Errol Flynn, James Brown, George Tobias
  10. Daisy Kenyon (1947) - Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda
  11. Her Husband's Affairs (1947) - Lucille Ball & Franchot Tone
  12. Mystery in Mexico (1948) - William Lundigan & Jacqueline White, Ricardo Cortez
  13. Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949) - Lucille Ball & William Holden, Janis Carter, James Gleason, Frank McHugh
  14. The Fuller Brush Girl (1950) - Lucille Ball & Eddie Albert
  15. The Story of Robin Hood (1952) - Richard Todd
  16. A Summer Place (1959) - Troy Donahue & Sandra Dee, Richard Egan, Dorothy McGuire, Arthur Kennedy, Constance Ford, Beulah Bondi 
  17. The Mummy (1959) - Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
  18. The Magnificent Seven (1960) - Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn
  19. An Autumn Afternoon (1962-Japanese) - Chishu Ryu, Shima Iwashita
  20. For Those Who Think Young (1964) - James Darrin & Pamela Tiffin, Woody Woodberry, Bob Denver, Paul Lynde, Anna Lee
  21. Goldfinger (1965) - Sean Connery & Honor Blackman
  22. The Train Robbers (1973) - John Wayne, Rod Taylor, Ann Margaret, Ben Johnson
  23. Anne of Green Gables (1985) - Meghan Follows
  24. Anne of Avonlea (1987) - Meghan Follows
  25. Throw Momma From the Train (1987) - Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal
  26. Air America (1990) - Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr. 
  27. Frequency (2000) - Jim Caviezel, Dennis Quaid
  28. *Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) - Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Carl Urban, Leonard Nimoy
  29. A Quiet Place Part II (2021) - Emily Blunt, John Krasinski 
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2018)
The Adventures of Spin and Marty (1955)

Handsome Flynn

Least Favorite Film: I’ve put off watching A Summer Place because it sounded too adult and I prefer Sandra Dee as the innocent Gidget. I watched it for Dorothy McGuire (I have no plans to ever watch Old Yeller).

Favorite Movie: I was really impressed with Piccadilly. The accompaniment however was very distracting and didn't go with the film at all. I would love to see it get a 40s style score! The Fuller Brush Girl and Miss Grant Takes Richmond were both really funny. I rewatched Wise Girl and it was even more hilarious than I remembered! It's sadly not on DVD :( I really liked Henry Fonda's performance in Daisy Kenyon (which has always sounded like a Western to me so I literally had no idea what the movie was about).

Favorite Quote: "You can wear the pants, Pete, but I'll tell you when to put them on!"~ Lee Patrick in Ladies Must Live.

This cracked me up for some reason - The Purchase Price (1932)

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Recycled Costume Roundup - October

Last month I shared costumes that were worn twice by the same actress in different films. I did not share the other two recycles I had noticed, so I will be sharing them today. I only noticed one other recycle at the beginning of the month so I had to try to find some more so this post wouldn't be too small ;)


First up is Eleanor Parker in a cameo appearance for The Hollywood Canteen (1944) wearing Bette Davis' red butterfly cape from Now, Voyager (1942). 

Here are a couple of gifs of Davis that show the cape in action:


I was looking through my screenshots for something else and stumbled across this recycle. The one on the left I took in 2018 and is worn by Frances Drake in The Affairs of Martha (1942). The one on the right is Laraine Day in Fingers at the Window (1942). I watched it in March of this year. I love the unique way this coat fastens!


Here is a three-peat! This gold Adrian gown dazzled audiences when it was first worn by Joan Crawford in The Women (1939). It also appeared briefly on an extra in Sky Murder (1940) and thirdly on Carol Hughes in I'll Wait for You (1941). Who knew it was such a great dress to dance in!!

Check out that voluminous skirt! I would imagine it would take a great deal of energy to cause it to twirl so well, as it looks quite heavy. I wish I could have made a gif of it.

The skirt, top, and belt of the costume became separated. The top is part of the Gene London Hollywood Collection.


We close the post with two Marsha Hunt related recycles ( the theme of this post seems to be Marsha Hunt and Laraine Day).

I recently purchased a copy of Hunt's book, "The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and '40s and Our World Since Then." I had been wanting it for a long time, especially after watching her documentary Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity (2014) on TCM. But after it aired a LOT of people wanted it and the few copies available were out of my price range ($70+). So when I noticed a couple weeks ago that TCM was showing the documentary again I quickly checked Ebay and found a copy for $35 (combined with a sale that got me $10 off)! 

I started flipping through it to see if I noticed any recycles. When I got to this page I noticed the lace from this gown in The Human Comedy (1943) was very familiar...

A dinner dress to make any lady look lovelier is Irene's filmy white lace  
that goes over a pale nude crepe slip. Sheer white mousseline de soie 
cascades down the cutaway skirt to form a full underskirt; it ruffles softly 
at the wrists in quaint contrast to the sleek princess lines of the dress.

It was made with a remnant of lace left over from Norma Shearer's lace robe in Marie Antoinette (1938)!!! I wish I could tell Marsha. I feel like she would find that as interesting as I did!

This exquisite creation is still with us!

The lace has a floral and foliate pattern and is embellished with hand sewn artificial pearls and scattered celluloid sequins of varying sizes with scalloped edges. The cape is worn by the newlywed Marie Antoinette during the ceremonial blessing of the bed. Costume design by Adrian. Center Back length, 75 inches; Bottom width, approximately 313 inches. Winning bid $4,000.

I was then looking at photos of Laraine Day, to see if I could spot any more recycles and discovered that she wore the Hunt gown in a publicity photo! 

Does anyone know if this is from a film, and if so, which one?

The second recycle I noticed while looking through Hunt's book was this "creamy-white wool" jacket trimmed in black, worn by Hunt in Irene (1940).

Hunt describes the trim as "pagoda-like."

It was the same jacket worn in The Falcon in Hollywood (1944). Notice that the lapels have been modified: the points were removed and black and metallic (?) trim were added down the front. The buttons were changed from white to black. 

You can view Hunt's book for FREE on the Internet Archive, with an account. If you've never checked out the Internet Archive, it's a treasure trove for Classic Movie fans. You can look at the old copies of Photoplay magazine without an account (see my Movie Magazine Archives tab at the top of my blog). 

Be sure to check out August's roundup again. I found another wear of Olivia de Havilland's Government Girl gown!