Category Archives: 1930s

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.

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Screen Icon: Deanna Durbin


Deanna Durbin, star of the silver screen in the 30s and 40s, passed away last week at the grand old age of 91. It seems that every time a famous actress from times past dies, people say ‘she was the last of the great stars’ or some similar line. I personally don’t think is ever true, because the world will always have stars, and as time inevitably passes by own sense of nostalgia imbues celebrities of old with a sense of mystery and glamour that we don’t afford to those we see in the press every day.

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Fred Astaire Dancing ‘Bojangles of Harlem’

fred astaire bojangles in harlem

The good old BBC has been showing a number of Ginger Rogers films this week, one of which is the 1936 movie ‘Swing Time’, also starring Fred Astaire. I hadn’t seen this particular Astaire and Rogers before, and was delighted to find it way up there with their best. In particular, I was blown away by Fred’s inventive tap dancing in the ‘Bojangles of Harlem’ routine.

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Film Style: Flying Down to Rio (1933)

flying-down-to-rio-1933 dolores del rio 1

Let’s get this out of the way straight away. Flying Down to Rio is a very silly film. However, like many other silly things (whoopee cushions, jaffa cake flavoured milkshakes, nail art, shoes with cat faces), that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. In fact, it is lots of fun indeed.

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Film Style: Australia (2008)


Elegant black riding outfit
Australia is the next well-deserved entry onto the list of awful films with terrific costumes. There were so many tepid reviews of this movie that I wasn’t expecting much, and, predictably enough, it was a total fizzer. I did expect to at least enjoy the scenery, but the shonky dialogue, cliched characters and haphazard plot were so grating that the beautiful outback setting went unregarded.
At least the clothing was up to scratch – the period covered is 1939 to 1942, and being a loaded aristocrat Lady Sarah can afford to wear some pretty decent togs. Catherine Martin was the costume designer and was later nominated for an Academy Award for her work on the film. She also designed the costumes in Baz’s other films such as Moulin Rouge (for which she DID win an Oscar). Ferragamo created Lady Sarah’s shoes and gloves, and Prada the blue luggage (seen in the image below).
A more detailed view of the same outfit. 30s calf-length cream fish-tail skirt, navy short sleeved jacket with puffed shoulders, and tilted Panama style hat.
The calf-length skirt is set to come back in vogue this autumn/winter, which has above-the-knee afficionados howling with dismay. But you can see here the style needn’t be frumpy, and can even look elegant when worn with a low (ie comofortable) heel. It doesn’t all have to be about stripper heels and mini skirts girls; we know you have legs, no need to prove it endlessly.
The mid-heeled Ferragamo spectator shoes worn in the scene above.
Lady Sarah goes on to wear a series of prim little shirts tucked neatly into jodphurs or tweed skirts. Lord knows how she manages to look so immaculate whilst riding through the desert, mustering cattle, chasing after children and canoodling with Hugh Jackman. My shirts manage to come untucked just sitting quietly at my desk.

Hair slightly frazzled but shirt crease-free

Artfully placed dust marks on shirt, but nothing is a millimetre out of place. Note also the natty buckled riding boots.

She also wears a lot of neck scarves tied cravat style and tucked (of course) into her shirt collar.

Oooh branching out into plaid! Still impeccably tucked.

I should be so tucky, tucky tucky tucky

These shirts must be glued to her underpants.

Working a grey pussy-bow blouse.

Tucking away the moments that make up a dull day. Pussy bow blouse and pencil skirt in teal blue.

Hurrah, a DRESS!! And a lovely one at that, printed 1930s tea dress.

Safari suit and horrendous driving goggles.

Printed peach cheongsam. At that time there were quite a few Chinese tailors working in Darwin.

Sheer printed burgundy cheongsam over peach underdress

These red velvet peep-toe heels by Ferragamo were worn by Nicole Kidman in the ballroom scene, and later released for sale.
Main reason for watching the film, rrowrr.