#ReelInfatuation Blogathon: The Most Stylish Sisters of 1954

Move over, Jackie and Lee. The unofficial (and totally made-up) title of The Most Stylish Sisters of 1954 goes to Betty and Judy Haynes. These savvy and sensational showbiz siblings prove the veracity of the famous Coco Chanel quote: “Fashion changes, but style endures.”

Bombshells in Blue

Bombshells in Blue

Their styles are different, but, as befits a sister act, complementary. Betty (Rosemary Clooney) is chic but serious; this perfectly suits her role as the mother hen elder sister. Judy (Vera-Ellen), the irresponsible kid sis, is kicky and fun on-stage and off; her wardrobe definitely fits her attitude. They both know how to dress, with panache, elegance, and personal style, for any occasion that presents itself. Proof of this can be found in the following fashion show… Continue reading

Glorious, Glorious Gloria the Birthday Girl!

On 27th March, 1899, a baby girl was born in the great Midwestern metropolis of Chicago. She grew up to conquer the world, armed with an arsenal of talent, wit, style, unusual beauty, and a staggering amount of well-justified ambition and self-confidence.

The camera loved her. Clothes loved her.

Fans loved her.

We still do.

**

Five (of the Many) Faces of Gloria

Magnificent:

Gloria Swanson in Male and Female, 1919

Gloria Swanson in Male and Female, 1919.

Demure:

Gloria Swanson, Motion Picture Classic (1920)

Gloria Swanson, Motion Picture Classic (1920).

Determined:

Gloria Swanson by Nickolas Muray, 1922

Gloria Swanson by Nickolas Muray, 1922.

Edgy:

Gloria Swanson in The Impossible Mrs. Bellew, 1922

Gloria Swanson in The Impossible Mrs. Bellew, 1922.

Timeless:

Gloria Swanson, Stars of the Photoplay (1924)

Gloria Swanson, Stars of the Photoplay (1924).

**

Happy birthday to the one, the only, the superb Gloria Swanson!

Until next time…

**

◊Effie is our Film correspondent. She (shockingly!) prefers House Peters’ profile to John Barrymore’s!

[The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon] Design for Living: Part Four-Not Your Average Rom Com Heroine

Not Your Average Rom Com Heroine

Venetia

**

Gilda Farrell is the unicorn of women movie characters: she’s unconventional without being (the cliched Hollywood-version of) a free spirit. Sure, most of us have heard that such a thing exists, without ever believing it could be true.

Trust me, dears. Gilda is the real deal.

She’s whip-smart, witty, straightforward, and determined to make the choices that are best for her. Even, as it turns out, when they are considered brazen or unbecoming of a “nice” woman. She starts with the awareness that women suffer from an almost unrelenting series of double standards:

Gilda's Speech

Gilda’s Speech in Design for Living (1933)

 From there, she decides to take action. This is why Gilda is so exceptional, why her decision to live romantically with two men is so fucking revolutionary. It is, also, why she is not a free-spirit:

To label her as such denies Gilda her self-governance, her experience, her bravery, and her brains.

Without them, she’d be just another silver screen beauty feigning eccentricity before accepting her fate as the good wife of an exceptionally handsome man.

Thank God for Gilda.

Her supposed immorality not only goes unpunished, but she gets to keep her self-respect, Gary Cooper, and Fredric March.

That’s pretty damn nifty.

 **

♣Venetia is our Feminism correspondent. She loves equality, swearing, and huge cups of coffee.

 The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

[The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon] Design for Living: Part One-There’s Just Something About Miriam

There’s Just Something About Miriam

Effie

**

Miriam Hopkins was born to play Gilda Farrell. Not Noël Coward’s Gilda, of course. He created that role for Lynn Fontanne. Miriam’s Gilda was written by the hilarious Ben Hecht, and lovingly crafted for the silver screen by the great German director with the famous touch, Ernst Lubitsch. Together, they set Miriam up with one of the plum parts of her career: a progressive heroine for the ages. Her Gilda is just that: her Gilda. No one else could have filled her with such élan or intelligence, warmth or charm. For, you see, Miriam Hopkins was as exceptional a performer as Gilda is a character. To have one without the other is unthinkable!

**

There’s Just Something About Miriam…

Miriam Being Miriam

Miriam Being Miriam

In an industry where conformity to one’s ascribed type is the ideal, if not quite a requirement, Miriam Hopkins’ transgressions against the celluloid status quo were enough to fill a small ledger.

On screen, she is demurely beautiful or joyously erotic or a sad excuse of a slattern. Her smile lights up the whole universe, but is often tamped down under a weight of  sadness, fear, or anger. Miriam-the-actress knew how to toss a biting, pointed quip better than anyone. Than anyone. She was sexy as hell. Spiteful, generous, flirtatious. Girl embodied it all, and with such intelligence. Her special brand of It translates seamlessly from one genre to the next. She subtly Miriam-ified everything she touched.

Whether backed by good or bad material, her romantic comedy heroines were (and remain) truly different.

Especially Gilda.

Design for Living Poster

Design for Living Poster

Successful commercial artist Gilda Farrell is the emancipated heart of Design for Living (1933). After meeting flatmates and best friends, playwright Thomas Chambers (Fredric March) and painter George Curtis (Gary Cooper), on a train to Paris, she falls very much in like with both men. 

The opening sequence is fresh, playful, and wickedly funny. The script gets off to a banging start, and never slows down for even half a heartbeat.

Case in point is her assessment of George’s painting of Lady Godiva (riding a bicycle): “I saw it with a friend of mine. She loved it. We haven’t spoken since.”

and

“You’re wisecracking with paint. It simply creaks with originality.”

Gilda is perceptive, and is not afraid to voice her opinions. Although acerbic, she is good-humored and down-to-earth. She also knows what she wants, and what she wants is Tom. And George.

Thus, after an insightful and mature conversation, their “gentleman’s agreement” is born.

Decisions Decisions

Decisions, Decisions!

“Boys, it’s the only thing we can do. Let’s forget sex!”

They spend the rest of the film sticking to, and breaking, their pact. Gilda’s not so good at it, herself.

“It’s true we have a gentleman’s agreement, but unfortunately, I am no gentleman!”

Edward Everett Horton rounds out the main cast as Gilda’s boss, prospective paramour, and eventual (short-term) husband. You know that things have taken a drastic turn for the absurd when she leaves Tom and George to marry the fusty Max. If there’s one thing we have learned from E.E.H.’s many character parts, it’s that he is good for some laughs (albeit at his expense) but not romance or a roll in the hay. This is no exception. In the end, Gilda Farrell gets her man men. Both of ’em.

How’s that for a happy ending?

**

The Cast

 After the horrors of the terrific Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), it’s nice to see Miriam Hopkins and Fredric March engaging in a healthy, playful on-screen relationship. Gilda and Tom are as far removed from Ivy Pearson and Mr. Hyde as possible. Add in the magical Gary Cooper, who excelled in odd comedies, and you have as scrumptious a love triangle as ever existed. The three stars play off of each other in a natural, infectious way. Edward Everett Horton, too, is delightfully, if predictably, on point. The overall cast is so small (only eight actors are listed in the opening credits), that the issue of chemistry is vitally important. Fortunately, we need not worry. Their chemistry is even more impressive than Tom’s hit play, Good Night Bassington.

 Credits

Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton, Franklin Pangborn, Isabel Jewell, Jane Darwell, Wyndham Standing

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch; Screenplay by Ben Hecht; Based on the Play by Noël Coward

91 minutes

Tasty Quotes

  • Max Plunkett: “Immorality may be fun, but it isn’t fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day!”
  • Tom Chambers: “Oh, now don’t let’s be delicate, Mr. Plunkett. Let’s be crude and objectionable, both of us.”
  • George Curtis: “Mustache or no mustache, I need a clean shirt for tomorrow.”
  • Gilda Farrell: “We have to tell him the truth, no matter what happens to the furniture.”
  • Tom Chambers: “I’m afraid, Bassington, that you are wrong!”
  • Gilda Farrell: “I’m going to be a Mother of the Arts!”
  • Tom Chambers: “I’m a playwright. I write unproduced plays. I’m very good at that kind.”
  • Tom Chambers: “A bicycle seat is a little hard on Lady Godiva’s historical background.”

 **

◊Effie is our Film correspondent. She shockingly prefers House Peters’ profile to John Barrymore’s.

Up next: In Part Two of our review, Charlotte gives us tips for dressing like Gilda.

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

[The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon] Design for Living: Intro

A Note from Maedez:

Before SNL, before Rita, there was Miriam. Pronunciation differences aside, her Gilda, from the 1933 motion picture “adaptation” of Noël Coward’s sensational play Design for Living, is ten steps beyond delightful.

Knowledge of the play isn’t a prerequisite to watching the film: the two share little more than a superficial resemblance. Each can be enjoyed on its own merits. Of course, only one has our Miriam!

Miriam Hopkins, 1933

Miriam Hopkins, 1933

Up next: In Part One of our review, Effie argues why Design for Living’s Gilda Farrell is Miriam at her comedic best.

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

♥ Maedez

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon