Category Archives: 1940s

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: Magic Town (1947)

Magic Town 1947 (25)

Magic Town (1947) is a slightly forgotten James Stewart film that really should be better known, and is well worth seeing for any fan of It’s a Wonderful Life. Like IaWL, Magic Town did badly at the box office, but for some reason despite it’s charm, it never really got picked up later. A shame, because it is really a terrific little flick.

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Screen Icon: Esther Williams


Star of screen and pool, Esther Williams, died yesterday at the age of 91. Esther never planned on being a film star but had a passion for swimming, becoming a champion in the sport by the age of 16. She was working as a store assistant at I Magnin in order to pay for tuition fees for a degree in physical education, when she was talent spotted and placed in the water show ‘Aquacade’ alongside fellow swimmer (and Tarzan star) Johnny Weissmuller.

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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.


Film Style: The Edge of Love (2008)

The Edge of Love film

The award for the most stonkingly bad film I’ve seen in recent years goes to The Edge of Love, starring Sienna Miller and Keira Knightly. It is a biopic loosely based on a love triangle between Dylan Thomas, his wife Caitlin, and their friend Vera Phillips. In fact the interpretation is so loose as to be almost entirely disconnected; the director admitted in an interview with the Times that there is no evidence that there was any affair, but adds “We wanted to find the dramatic truth about the characters”. Which I think translates as “the story wasn’t interesting enough so we just made it up and hoped no-one would notice”.

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