Film Style: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders Lost Ark 1981 Marian 12

You know the problem with growing up watching a film as perfect as Raiders of the Lost Ark? You don’t actually realise it is perfect. You are so young and stupid, you think all movies are that good! It is only after spending the next few decades watching several thousand ‘not-quite’ movies, that you get to understand just what a magical combination it is. Fools. They don’t know what they’ve got there!

Harrison Ford is perfect as Indiana Jones. Karen Allen is perfect as Marian. The score is perfect, the pacing is perfect, the fight scenes are perfect, the supporting actors are perfect, the dialogue is perfect. And, oh yes, the costumes are perfect.

Continue reading

Film Style: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Lady from Shanghai Rita Hayworth (5)


The Lady from Shanghai (1947) is a superbly fun, and beautifully filmed, 1940s film noir starring a blonde Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles (who also directed) and Everett Sloane.

The movie is a little gem, with a tight storyline, delicious dialogue (“You’ve been traveling around the world too much to find out anything about it”), wonderful cinematography with buckets of suspenseful shadows and angles and particularly good mirror scene towards the end,  sizzling chemistry between Hayworth and Welles, and of course, Rita Hayworth’s fabulous wardrobe.

The costumes in the film were designed by Jean Louis, who is most well known for creating the famous black strapless gown worn by Hayworth in Gilda. He also designed the risque bejewelled figure-hugging dress that Marilyn Monroe famously wore to sing ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to JFK in 1962. With that kind of pedigree, you know the clothes in this film have got to be good. Continue reading

Film Style: The Odd Couple (1968)

The Odd Couple 1968 (3)

The Odd Couple is a classic 1960s comedy starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (which is why it was so totally brilliant when they reunited as another odd couple in 1993’s Grumpy Old Men).

I’m not going to talk here about the odd couple themselves, Oscar and Felix. Frankly, these guys do not dress to impress. But WOWSERS to the Pigeon sisters, Cecily and Gwendolyn! As soon as Gwendolyn walked through the door in that amazing polka dot yellow shift dress with enormous bow, I was smitten. And then Cecily’s lime green capri pants later! Phwoar!

Continue reading

Christmas Movie Battle: First Blood v It’s a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Rambo First Blood Life

The battle of best Christmas movies rages without fail every yuletide season, and I’m often baffled as to why some films are regarded as Christmas classics (with only the most tenuous of links), while others that are clearly set at Christmastime are never mentioned.

First Blood is one such oversight. I might say it is because running around killing people doesn’t seem very Christmassy. But the popularity of Die Hard as a festive favourite (as well it should be) would disprove that theory.

Of course for many people, the number one heartwarming Christmas flick is It’s a Wonderful Life. Which is, obviously, an amazing film that always gets me properly teared up (‘no no, I’m not crying, I just got half a mince pie stuck in my eye’). However… most of it doesn’t even take place at Christmas. It is about a guy who is so unhappy he wants to die, thinks his life has been entirely meaningless, and that the people he loves would be better off if he’d never even existed. This is grim stuff people!

Continue reading

Film Style: The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Andromeda Strain 1971 1

The Andromeda Strain (1971) is adapted from a Michael Crichton novel, and worth watching for Kate Reid alone. Her character of Dr. Ruth Leavitt is flipping amazing, and pretty much my number one movie scientist idol.

In the ordinary way of things, movie scientists are men. IF a woman happens to be a film scientist, the rules are that she should be young, slim and beautiful. She might occasionally don a pair of spectacles if she needs to appear particularly clever at any point, but for the rest of the movie she’ll look like a supermodel in a lab coat. It’s always been the way, and sadly still is.

What is absolutely tops about Dr Ruth is that she is a REAL person. And this way back in 1971! She has a terribly frumpy hairdo, doesn’t wear make-up, doesn’t even seem to be wearing a proper bra, has crumpled, baggy clothing and an untucked shirt, smokes, coughs, takes pills, uses her loud nasal voice to deliver withering sarcastic comments to all and sundry, and then basically saves the world with her scientific brilliance. SHE RULES SO MUCH.

She also definitely deserves her own place in the list of the coolest glasses ever seen in the movies.

Continue reading

Film Style: Angel Face (1952)

Angel Face 1952 Jean Simmons (29)

Angel Face is a 1952 film noir directed by Otto Preminger that, although lesser known than some of his other movies, has a cult following of its own and is a well respected example of the genre.

Jean Simmons stars as the Angel Face in question, Diane Tremayne, opposite noir fave Robert Mitchum. Simmons was more commonly seen in rather more innocent roles, but she plays the part of a devious femme fatale chillingly well. From the first moment Mitchum happens upon her playing piano, every nerve in your brain is screaming ‘run Bobby, run, this dame is Bad News!’

Continue reading

The coolest ever glasses in movies

glasses michael caine ipcress file

I’m an idiot. I was thinking about The Ipcress File one day, and the ineffable stylishness of Michael Caine and his black-framed specs, and thought that coming up with a list of similarly awesome (or in some other way, striking) glasses worn in the movies would be quick and easy. It took me three months. SHEESH.

This, naturally, is not only because it turns out there are many more amazing spectacled movie characters than I previously knew about, but also because a stubborn streak of perfectionism meant I had to keep discovering MORE movie glasses. And more. And still more. And then it became overwhelming and I felt I was drowning in glasses and had to run away and hyperventilate for a while before I felt I could continue with my movie glasses mission.

Continue reading

Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood Costume Finale

Extra Romeo and Juliet 1936 dress costume

Last week the final auction of Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood costume collection took place. Debbie had been collecting costumes for her entire career, and since 2012 had been auctioning what was one of the largest costume collections in the world.

There were some incredible pieces available to view (and buy) in this last sale. Some of the items are noteworthy not so much for their design as for the iconic productions they were used in – a selection of hats worn by Vivien Leigh in ‘Gone with the Wind’, a dancing dress from An American in Paris, Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat, simian limbs used in ‘Planet of the Apes’, and Laurence Olivier’s jacket worn in Pride and Prejudice.

Continue reading