Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Design in Film, Part 2




If my cable system ever drops Turner Classics, I don't know what I am going to do. I don't really do reality shows, and I don't like getting involved with a television series- too much commitment. But old movies? Love them! I can't get enough of them.

Nerve.com posted an interesting article yesterday about design in film. Blogger Phil Nugent listed five movies where "design nearly stole the show". I'll let you click over to see his choices, but one movie about which Nugent and I are in complete agreement is "My Man Godfrey". Early last year I posted a list of six of my favorite movies where design played a starring role, and "Godfrey" is right up there amongst the top. But why stop at six? Here are a few more movies whose sets and interiors have struck my fancy.



The Divorcée, starring Norma Shearer. When this film was released back in 1930, it caused a great scandal. A married woman having an affair... on screen? Horrors! The movie has those quintessential 1930s glamorous movie sets- Cedric Gibbons was the Art Director of this film, after all. But what you should really see is the so-called "country house" of the lead characters. It's a vision in white, black, Serge Roche-esque furniture, and satin. If Miles Redd had a country house (and maybe he does), this would be it!




Trouble in Paradise. Ernst Lubitsch's 1932 film is a sparkling, witty movie with Art Deco interiors and exteriors galore. The stylized Colet & Co. perfume factory is absolutely fabulous.




Who wasn't struck by the interiors in Gosford Park? I don't know which part of the house I preferred- the upstairs or the downstairs. Things were awfully glamorous up with the wealthy people, but I did love that kitchen too!




You can't have a list about movie interiors without mentioning Auntie Mame. Mame was a bit like Dorothy Draper on speed- she was all about having FUN, especially in her decorating. Mame's apartment went through so many different phases, and I can't decide which version I like best. Was it the over the top Chinese restaurant look? Or the crazy, modern Yul Ullu version?


The Paradine Case (1946), starring Gregory Peck. Set in London, this lesser known Hitchcock movie is actually rather good. Peck plays a dashing attorney who has an attractive, kind wife and lives in a very elegant home. What I never understood was why he would fall for his client, a woman of questionnable virtue- especially when said client has a gaudy, Baroque bed with a painting of herself on the headboard. Would you choose a tacky bed over a gorgeously appointed home? I thought not.

This:


Over this? What was Peck thinking??



Image at top: My favorite person on TV- Robert Osborne.

19 comments:

  1. Sometimes I can barely watch the film for looking at the sets. Maybe the new Brideshead will need to be added to the list.

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  2. as you know I LOVE old movies as well and find a lot of inspiration from them. I love all these movies you mentioned but have never seen 'trouble in paradise' -it's number one on my blockbuster list now upon a recommendation from you!
    I purposefully do NOT have TCM because I know I would become a TV addict -without it I can carry on as usual!

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  3. Jennifer -- you've inspired me to rent some films I've never seen before and perhaps to watch Gosford again this weekend.

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  4. Oh yes- Brideshead Revisited. Can't wait for that one! Too many movies... too little time!

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  5. How about the classic witty and charming "Thin Man" series with William Powell and Myrna Loy? Or how about the ever-so-classic "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House"? Or perhaps the hard-to-find "The Clandestine Bride" -- a more recent film with very funny and witty characters! Of course -- "The Philadelphia Story" is my personal favorite! Or for a more recent one -- "Cold Comfort Farm" -- another fun movie!


    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  6. love this! one day I have to see Auntie Mame - maybe i'll rent it tonight.

    Joni

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  7. Oh my goodness...old movies and vintage jazz (my heart's desire)...there is nothing like the old days...ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!

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  8. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Oh thank you for picking so many of my favorites. I still watch Auntie Mame sometimes after a bad week -- I've never forgiven the musical movie for ruining it! But a couple of my other favorites are the Thin Man series, The Women, and 1985's After Hours. The whole movie is about the look - a nightmare played out in New York taxicab motif!

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  9. Pat H.1:54 PM

    Jennifer--loved this post. I also relish the interior shots of movies--thought I was the only one! Two more recent movies that I rent for their interiors are "Someone to Watch Over Me"--Mimi Rogers' NY apartment is gorgeous and also Cybil Shephard's Georgetown home in "Chances Are". Thank you for your list--will rent "Auntie Mame" again! (Love "Bringing Up Baby" for the interiors too)

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  10. Pat H.2:09 PM

    To continue with a listing of more recent beautiful homes in films, one must list "War of the Roses" and audiences' favorite "Something's Gotta Give". I've rented both, stopping the films to analyse rooms!

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  11. lecaro2:15 PM

    Love your choices. A more recent favorite is Diane Keaton's house in "Something's Gotta Give."

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  12. It's easy to see how Gregory Peck would fall for his shady client, played by the exquisite Alida Valli. Ann Todd, who played the wife, with her blonde page-boy helmet, was someone in whose mouth butter would not melt. About that questionable bed with its velvet covered carved wood, I'd have it in a flash! It would be quite easy to suppress the portrait medallion beneath more velvet.
    This is a marvelous subject, Jennifer. I happened to see Auntie Mame last night on Turner Classics, remembering how, as a boy, I was dazzled by the dramatic alterations in her decor from one phase to the next. Upon closer inspection they are quite basic~it's all about that curving staircase wall more than anything else~and not terribly detailed. Still, to be able to change the mood of a place~that stuck with me.

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  13. Oh my gosh, you all have come up with some great ones- and ones I haven't seen before. Yay! I agree about "Something's Gotta Give", but chose not to include it as Linda and Joni have done such good jobs writing about it.

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  14. Balsamfir2:52 PM

    Great choices. You've reminded me its been too long since I've seen Auntie Mame. I also agree with the person who suggested Bringing up Babe. But what about the Europeans? Enchanted April for the gardens, and a movie by Daniel Auteuil I watched on a plane and don't know the name of. Another favorite for style was Diary of a Chambermaid. Anyone got any ideas about greek movies?

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  15. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Greek movies. Can anybody help?

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  16. becky from hatch6:54 PM

    Down with Love - a so-so Renee Zellweger movie with amazing sets and costumes - they make it worth watching. Also, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette knocked my socks off.

    TV is stepping it up as well - right now I'm re-obsessing over Mad Men (AMC) on TV, and I'm intrigued by the 70s sets on Swingtown (CBS). Both do a good job of matching transitional decor with transitional/turbulent times.

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  17. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Hasn't anyone else noticed the great interiors in "Laura"? Clifton Webb's bathroom? The antique clock played an important part in the plot? Thanks for the great post.

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  18. I posted a comment yesterday that must have gotten lost! I just wanted to say what a great post! I just watched Auntie Mame the night before last on TMC - now those are some wild interiors! The set decorators must have had the time of their lives doing those sets!

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  19. I bought Godfrey and Trouble in Paradise just for the sets and clothes. If you haven't already, you must see "Female". It is a pre-code film, the gal runs a car company and has the house, clothes, and office to prove it!

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