The Boy Friend, directed by Ken Russell and starring famous 60s model Twiggy, is usually considered by critics to be right up there with The Great Gatsby as one of the most iconic 70s-does-20s period movies. Yet it isn’t nearly as well known, and until recently has been impossible to get on DVD. Luckily, the BBC showed the film last month so I was able to see what all the fuss was about.
The pre-colour days of the 1920s are often best understood visually through modern films or colour illustrations. The usually blurry, monochrome photographs and films of that period are not very helpful for looking at details, and often it actually makes it even harder to imagine how things must have been compared to using imagination alone. I was therefore extremely pleased to find this BFI film of the 1920s in colour, made by a man named Claude Friese-Greene travelling around the British Isles in 1924-26 with his home-invented colour film technique.
A few posts back I mentioned Cold Comfort Farm. The novel was written by Stella Gibbons and published in 1932, and in 1995 was made into a BBC TV film starring Kate Beckinsale. Don’t you hate it when one of your favourite books is made into a film and completely destroyed? Or when you see a great film and seek out the book only to find it is a total snore? Well not in this case; I absolutely love both the book and the film of Cold Comfort Farm, and have lost count of how many times I have read and watched each. The film is particularly worth watching for the marvellous vintage 1920s/30s clothing.
The story begins with pragmatic Flora Poste (an Emma Woodhouse for the jazz age) becoming orphaned and deciding to go and live with her country relatives. Aided by her favourite book, ‘The Higher Common Sense’, Flora efficiently sets about ‘remodelling’ the loony Starkadders. Shenanigans ensue.
Favourite Flora quotes:
“When I am 53 or so I would like to write a novel as good as Persuasion, but with a modern setting, of course. For the next 30 years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say, ‘Collecting material’. No one can object to that. Besides, so I shall be.”
“One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one’s favorite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one’s dressing gown.”
“Nature is all very well in her place, but she must not be allowed to make things untidy.”
“On the whole, I dislike my fellow-beings; I find them so difficult to understand. But I have a tidy mind, and untidy lives irritate me. Also, they are uncivilized.”
Check out some of the exquisite vintage clothing from the film:
Lounging about in silk kimonos
Brogues, long socks and tweed plus fours
Belted sweater and umbrella
Embroidered gardening apron
Amazing zig zag collar shirt with rust coloured waistcoat
Pretty trimmed and scalloped collar
Petit point top
Chiffon or voile sleeve draped shirt
Ruffled edge blouse
Delightful vintage hats