Posts

Aah! A Shriek in the Night (1933)

Image
              Doesn't that poster just say it all? Pre-Code murder mysteries are a special kind of madness - the usual formula includes a sassy reporter trying to make her way in a man's world, inevitably stumbling into a murder (and a romance). She's your everyday career girl but somehow dresses like a model, isn't afraid to confront creepy guys lurking in basements, and cracks cases as easily as one-liners.             A Shriek in the Night followed this well-loved storyline, proving the biggest hit that independent "Poverty Row" studio Allied Pictures would ever release. Its success was mostly due to Ginger Rogers, fresh out of 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 and about to become a worldwide sensation in Flying Down to Rio . Despite her undeniable screen presence and comedic timing, A Shriek in the Night doesn't make full use of Ginger's talents - it's more of a preview for what's to come.               The movie starts with - what els

Fred and Ginger in Technicolor: The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

Image
            By 1949, musicals were in a bit of a slump. MGM had been churning out song and dance movies like  Good News  and  Anchors Aweigh  through World War II, largely due to the star power of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, but nothing compared to the glittering productions of the 1930s. At the same time, Fred Astaire's career was reaching its second peak. After retiring briefly in 1946, he replaced an injured Gene Kelly in 1948's Easter Parade and quickly became MGM's musical star of choice. The smash success of Easter Parade led the studio to re-team Fred and co-star Judy Garland in  The Barkleys of Broadway.               Sadly, by this point in her career, Judy was already struggling with addiction and her mental health was too unstable for her to work regularly. After a few rehearsals for the Barkleys , she was forced to drop out. The studio scrambled to find a replacement who could act, sing, and dance alongside Fred Astaire, and was reminded of a telegram they&

The Palm Beach Story (1942)

Image
                Everyone loves a madcap remarriage rom-com, especially when it stars two of Old Hollywood's best and most gorgeous stars. Meet The Palm Beach Story , the perfect summer watch for comedy lovers, costume design lovers, and Joel McCrea lovers (so, everyone).                 The movie starts with a wild credits sequence in which we see our main characters, Tom and Gerry Jeffers (Joel and Claudette Colbert), race to the altar and get married. Five years later, they're broke (but somehow living in an amazing Art Deco apartment, of course). An old couple come to tour the now-for-rent apartment and find Gerry. The old man, who turns out to be the incredibly wealthy owner of a sausage company, likes Gerry enough to give her 700 dollars to pay off the rent and buy some nice things. As one does.               Tom, who is a struggling inventor, is trying and failing to get his plan for an all-new airport off the ground. (Pun intended). Gerry welcomes Tom home to the news t

Dress in Detail: the "Scarlett" Dress

Image
               Here I am with another Dress in Detail costume analysis! (If you missed my others, on Judy Garland's "I Don't Care" dress and Ginger Rogers's "Never Gonna Dance" dress, give them a read!) I must confess to you that I've never seen Gone With the Wind , but the costume design is legendary. Walter Plunkett (who I just featured in my Singin' in the Rain article) was the mastermind behind the extravagant, historical costumes of this film - and none were grander than Vivien Leigh's. I'll be taking a closer look at the famous red dress from the birthday party scene which perfectly sums up the character of Scarlett O'Hara.             The "Scarlett" dress is meant to be a showstopping attention-getter, slightly scandalous for the 1870s. It certainly achieves its goals. The design for this costume was meant to be wildly different from both what the other characters were wearing and what Scarlett had worn in the rest

A Costume Analysis of Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Image
               Singin' in the Rain is one of those gorgeous films where you can pause at any moment and it might as well be a painting. Besides being an iconic movie, it's a stunning combination of Technicolor and fashion - which is why I decided to round up the costumes in one big stunning survey. Here it is: the Singin' in the Rain Costume Analysis !                  Scene One: The Movie Premiere               At the beginning of Singin' in the Rain , Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are at the premiere of their latest film, The Royal Rascal. The year is 1927, and silent films are just making the switch over to talkies. Don and Lina are dressed in coordinating white outfits - because they're such an amazing screen team who totally adore each other! (Sarcasm intended.) Even though Don can't stand Lina, their matchy-matchy outfits turn them into a unit. Don wears a trench coat over his tuxedo, and Lina's in a sparkly sequin fur wrap, m